Modern automatic transmissions are full of sensors so that the computer can easily and accurately monitor things like fluid temperature, fluid level, and the overall pressure inside the transmission. Automatic transmissions are very expensive to replace so it is worth the effort to keep it well maintained.
What the automatic transmission light means
If the computer detects any abnormal readings from the sensors, a code will be stored and the automatic transmission indicator light will turn on to alert the driver of possible issues. Malfunctioning sensors will also give false readings causing the light to come on so always have the sensors tested again. One of the most common issues that causes this indicator light to illuminate is that the transmission fluid temperature is higher than normal.
What to do when the automatic transmission light is on
If this light comes on, it should be checked out as soon as possible. As mentioned earlier, automatic transmissions are very expensive to replace and they can sometimes be salvaged if you act quickly and get the necessary repairs done. You will need to scan the car’s computer for any codes to help determine the cause of the issue. You can check the fluid level and condition of your car’s transmission if it has a dipstick, but this won’t always lead you to the cause of the problem.
Is it safe to drive with the automatic transmission light on?
While the car may not drive differently with the light on, you should have the it checked out as soon as possible before any excessive damage occurs. Driving with this indicator light on for long periods of time is likely to cause a lot of wear to the transmission and reducing its lifespan significantly. Some vehicles may go into what’s called a “limp home” mode. Limp mode will limit the vehicle’s top speed to reduce the strain on the transmission.
If your automatic transmission light stays on, our certified technicians are always available to assist you in identifying any issues.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as What Does the Automatic Transmission/Automatic Gearbox Warning Light Mean? and was authored by Spencer Cates.