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5 Symptoms of a Bad Coolant Temperature Sensor

Coolant Temperature Sensor - Gearstar

A coolant temperature sensor remains one of the most vital engine management sensors. Learn why and symptoms of a bad sensor.

The coolant temperature switch – otherwise known as the coolant temperature sensor – is primarily responsible for monitoring the engine coolant’s temperature. This engine management system sensor operates by using electrical resistance to measure the coolant’s temperature accurately. 

The signal generated is automatically transmitted to the computer so that necessary changes can be made. This includes changing the engine’s timing as well as the fuel calculations for premium performance. Most automobile engines require more fuel when they are cold but require less when fully warmed up.

If the computer detects that the engine’s temperature is too high, it will automatically scale back engine performance settings. This occurs to prevent overheating, which can damage the engine severely.

As you can see, temperature plays such a crucial role in the performance calculations of your engine. And this implies that if the coolant temperature sensor malfunctions, it may translate very quickly to engine performance hiccups.

This post discusses some of the common symptoms of a bad coolant temperature sensor. These symptoms should alert you of potential problems with your automobile and push you to have it checked out thoroughly.

Symptoms of a Bad Coolant Temperature Sensor

Overheating Engine 

If you notice that your engine overheats, the coolant temperature sensor could be the problem. At times, the coolant temperature switch may fail such that it starts transmitting hot signals permanently. 

This causes the computer to erroneously counterbalance the signal, thereby causing the engine to misfire or overheat. 

Poor Fuel Economy

Poor fuel economy is another symptom that indicates your coolant temperature sensor is malfunctioning. 

If the coolant temperature sensor malfunctions, it can transmit a false signal to the computer. And the response of the computer may unbalance the timing and fuel calculations. 

It is also common for a coolant temperature sensor to fail without warning and send permanently cold signals to the computer. The computer mistakenly assumes the engine is cold, even when it is not. 

This will cause the automobile to use up more fuel than is necessary, thereby reducing fuel economy. And this will ultimately hamper engine performance.

‘Check Engine Lights Turns On

If the ‘Check Engine’ light suddenly comes on, this could imply a hitch with the coolant temperature sensor. If the computer detects an unsavory development with the sensor’s circuit or signal, it may set off the ‘Check Engine’ light. And the light will not go off until a specialist readily addresses the issue. 

Black Smoke Emitted from the Engine

Few drivers hardly notice this crucial coolant temperature sensor symptom. But if your vehicle’s exhaust starts emitting black smoke, the coolant temperature sensor could be the culprit.

The coolant temperature sensor can fail and transmit cold signals to the computer. This action confuses the computer and stimulates it to enrich the fuel mixture unnecessarily. This can cause the fuel mixture to be vibrant such that during combustion, the fuel can’t be adequately consumed within the chamber.

This leads to the burning up of your vehicle’s exhaust pipe, thereby causing black smoke. This can be so severe that driving the vehicle in such a condition may result in environmental or excessive air pollution.

Poor Idling

A faulty sensor can cause the fuel mixture to adjust. This causes the engine to shake or vibrate when the vehicle is at low speed and can even bring about strange behaviors, power losses, etc.

Engines are highly sensitive, especially to inappropriate air-fuel mixtures at idle. This is a pointer that something is wrong with your coolant temperature sensor and must be checked out by a certified professional.

Defective Electrical Cooling Fans

Some vehicles’ coolant temperature sensors control the electric cooling fans. Most automobiles come with two different temperature sensors for the fans, engine management and dashboard gauge.

However, if your vehicle only has a single coolant temperature sensor and it becomes faulty, your electrical fans may not function at all.

Where is the Coolant Temperature Sensor Located?

Different car manufacturers and brands have distinct ways of installing the coolant temperature sensor. Its exact location also depends on its overall design.

However, the coolant temperature sensor is often located right on the cylinder head or engine block. You will find it installed conveniently on a plastic hose on the coolant’s inlet.

Some automobiles come with more than one coolant temperature sensor. This is because sometimes, these different switches can be used to send signals to the cooling fan control, dashboard, and control unit of the engine system.

If your vehicle comes with two sensors, the one that transmits signals to the control unit is often known as the coolant temperature sensor.

Diagnosing a Malfunctioning Coolant Temperature Sensor

Diagnosing should be the job of a certified technician. However, this shouldn’t stop you from examining the engine component if you suspect it is malfunctioning.

You may have to get your hands on a repair manual for the model of your vehicle. This will enable you to find the measurement values that a functioning coolant temperature switch should exhibit.

Check the service manual of your vehicle to locate your coolant temperature sensor. When you set eyes on it, disconnect the connector plugs.

If your sensor has two pins, determine the ohm measure between the pins. Then compare the value with the correct ohm-value – at a given temperature – in your repair manual. If the value does not tally, it means you need to replace the coolant temperature sensor.

If the values add up or tally, consider checking the connectors and wirings between the sensor and the engine’s control module.

You can also make use of an OBD2 Scanner to look for related trouble codes. Check the live data to see the temperature of the sensor. If the temperature is off the range, check the wirings of the sensor or replace the engine component.


The coolant temperature switch remains one of the most vital engine management sensors. This is because it plays a crucial role in numerous calculations that ultimately affect your engine’s performance.

This is why you shouldn’t waste any time if you suspect that the coolant temperature sensor is malfunctioning. Get a professional or experienced technician to inspect your vehicle as soon as possible.

The technician should be able to analyze or diagnose your automobile and determine if there will be a need for the replacement of the coolant temperature sensor or not.


6 Ways to Prolong the Life of Your Performance Transmission

6 Ways To Prolong The Life Of Your Performance Transmission-Gearstar

There are several ways to prolong the life of your performance transmission, and if you employ them, it’ll save you from making huge expenses in the long run. A transmission is one of the most expensive components in a car and as such, a replacement could take a huge chunk out of your wallet.

And that may be the least to worry about since serious issues that arise in your transmission may be difficult to repair. Nonetheless, you can cut costs and at the same time, avoid potential transmission problems just by applying certain tips. These tips will help to extend the life of your performance transmission.


A Great Performance Transmission

Transmission in a manual or automatic car helps to transfer power from the engine to the wheels. What this power transfer does is to enable the car to change its gears and also move in the desired direction.

Now if your transmission is in bad shape, it either has to be overhauled or replaced entirely. The process is expensive and may become a bitter pill to swallow. But the good news is, it can be avoided by carrying out certain checks.


How to Extend the Life of Your Performance Transmission

You can extend the life of your performance transmission by doing the following:


1. Check the Transmission Fluid Regularly

Transmission fluid helps in cooling and lubrication, and it transmits force and pressure, while also preventing build-up. Therefore, one surefire way to prolong your transmission’s life is to check its fluid regularly.

The transmission fluid may run low or contain impurities as it gets old. When either of these happens, it could lead to common transmission problems such as overheating. Nonetheless, overheating can be avoided if you know just the right time to refill or change the fluid entirely.

Now you may be wondering, how often should you check the transmission fluid? You can inspect the fluid once every month to ascertain its level and condition.

Pick up your dipstick and check the level of the transmission fluid, and if it looks opaque instead of clear red, then the fluid is bad and needs to be changed. Similarly, if you give the fluid a good whiff and perceive a foul smell, then it could be a sign of a problem.


2. Use Synthetic Fluid

Synthetic transmission fluid is more preferable than ordinary fluid for a number of reasons. For starters, a synthetic fluid is better at resisting cold, heat, oxidation, and shearing. Heat, on the other hand, can break down the organic compounds in a regular fluid thereby making it less effective.

Therefore, if you want your transmission to last longer, synthetic fluid would be your go to option. Heat-resistant, synthetic fluid will help an aging transmission to still offer good performance over time.

A good number of manufacturers are already replacing regular fluids with synthetic fluids in a bid to ensure that the vehicle is not impacted by certain elements. In line with that, it is worth noting that poor quality fluid can harm your transmission; hence, the high-quality fluid must be used at all times.


3. Service Your Transmission Every 30,000 Miles

Your transmission can last for 300,000 miles or more if it is serviced regularly. The reason can be tied to the fact that the transmission can fail within 100,000 miles. What this means is that if you tend to drive around 10-15,000 miles a year, the unit could be down in seven years. Here’s what we’re getting at:

Another way to extend the life of your performance transmission is to get the unit serviced every two years or 30,000 miles. During the servicing process, one of the most effective maintenance procedures will be carried out on your vehicle and that is changing the transmission fluid.

Accordingly, the old fluid will be drained from the transmission, and the pan will be cleaned.  The filter will then be replaced before new fluid is poured into it. At the end of the day, you would’ve been able to enhance the performance of your car just by changing the fluid and allowing its filter to work better at trapping dirt.

Interestingly, a service of this nature would cost you around $60-$100 or less depending on where your car is being serviced. If you want to reduce the cost of servicing your transmission even further, learn to carry out the process yourself.


4. Use an External Filter

You may have taken the needful step to clean your transmission’s filter. But an external filter to the cooler lines can also help to keep dirt away from the fluid. This is because the original filter may be unable to handle all the particles it may encounter, hence an external filter will help it to do a better job.

In the end, more contaminants will be trapped and the transmission fluid will be as clean as possible. Much more, the fluid will be clean for a longer time compared to when a single filter is used.


5. Maintain the Cooling System

Your car’s radiator also serves to cool the engine since heat can cause a lot of damage to the transmission. While you may have a radiator in place, its level of performance may reduce with time, which is why it is advisable that you maintain it every two years.

These maintenance checks will involve inspecting the coolant levels, changing the antifreeze, and inspect the hoses and belts. Other checks you can carry out include carrying out a radiator cap pressure test, and a thermostat check.

A transmission cooler might also prove very useful if you tend to travel in environments where the temperature of the transmission might be raised to high levels. The same applies if you drive with heavy loads frequently, or in heavy traffic.


6. Practice Good Driving

It is important to drive your car more easy. Especially on a cold start since transmission fluid is thicker when it’s cold. If the fluid does not move well from the bottom to the top, it could lead to friction thereby causing damage.

What’s more, the transmission takes time to warm up and if it doesn’t, you may be putting too much strain on it. The point is, don’t drive even before the transmission has warmed up.

If it is in cold weather, let the car idle. When the engine’s RPM has lowered, the vehicle can be put into gear. Asides from being easy on the unit, you can use the emergency brake when you’re parking on an incline, and avoid resting your hand on the gear lever as you drive.


The Bottom Line

These are the easy steps on how to prolong the life of your performance transmission. It revolves around checking your transmission fluid regularly, setting scheduled fluid changes, band adjustments and using more than one filter.

There’s also the need to ensure that your radiator is functional. This will help to minimize the heat produced by the engine while in operation. Try each of these and you’ll be able to extend the life of your transmission for a couple of years if not more.

Most importantly, it’ll help you to save thousands of dollars that would have been wasted on premature transmission failure.

Why Restomods Are Truly the Best of Both Worlds

Restomod Cars Are Truly the Best of Both Worlds - Gearstar

The new trend of restomods is definitely the best of both worlds. Whether you’re a classic or a modern car lover, you can have it all in a single-vehicle. Rock the iconic car look from the 1950s, and count on reliability, performance, and comfort of the latest sports cars. How awesome can that get? If you’re still contemplating if resto-modding is for you, here’s some valuable information that’ll help you decide.

What Is Resto-Modding?

Now if you haven’t gotten a hang of things yet, restomod is a term gotten from “restoration and modification.” It involves restoring and modifying classic cars with modern engines, transmissions, and luxury comforts that can only be found in today’s ride. What this does, is to remove the performance flaws that were evident in the classic car.

However, the catch is that your old muscle car’s exterior still maintains its age long look. This is because its external appearance is either restored to or close to its original look and curb appeal. And if you haven’t guessed already, old pickup trucks can also be resto-modded by upgrading their chassis with long-travel suspension, modern-day drivetrain, and safety measures.

History of Restomods

Back in the 1950s, there were two classes of hobbyists and these were the collectors and hot rodders. Collectors were only out to find classic cars they could show off at events. They were less bothered about low horsepower engines and low-quality brakes that were often present in classic cars.

Hot rodders, on the other hand, were not content with just having an old ride to play with. Their aim was to get better driving experience, and that meant newer engines, improved brakes, headlights, and other features that could give the ride a revamped and modern look.

But years later, a new generation emerged from car hobbyists and this set of car enthusiasts were both interested in retaining the classic car’s look and adopting a modern car’s performance. Cars from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, began to look interesting since some hotrodders stopped taking off the original design of the vehicle.

They maintained the car’s old look but gave it the latest engine, brake, and steering technology for improved performance, safety, and driving dynamics. Let’s take it one step further to show you what you stand to gain from resto-modding.


Why Restomods Are the Best of Both Worlds

You may be wonder if there’s a need to seek vintage vehicle aesthetic and pair it with modern performance. But here are some reasons why restomods are the best of both worlds:

1. Uncompromising Features

Restomod is ideal if you want a classic car, yet the performance and safety features of today’s ride. You can do so without compromising these modern features, while you satisfy your heart’s desire for a stunning classic car. Therefore, you get to enjoy the advantages of a modern car in an old muscle car.

2. A Promise of a Better Ride

It’s a classic car and it was not built with the same high-end tech that is evident in cars today. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise that classics are prone to leaking oil and even frequent breakdowns.

They are sometimes slow and inefficient when their performance is compared side by side with modern cars. However, this less impressive performance can be turned around by revamping the car’s mechanical components. What we getting at?

Your resto-modded car can have the performance of a modern machine, while still maintaining its charming, old school looks. Moreover, it improves the car’s safety features to today’s standards, thereby making it adhere to the current road laws.

3. Enhances Creativity

Who says you must drive around town with a ride straight from the manufacturer’s factory? There’s no rule, and as such, no limitation to your creativity. That being said, a restomod offers the opportunity to bring your creativity to life.

Hence, if there’s an old ride that catches your eye, it can be remodeled as you best dim fit. If you’re new to the hobby of collecting old cars, restomods make it easy to get creative.

 4. An Alternative to Classic Restoration

Restoration seeks to return the car to its original look as it was from the factory. However, there are cases where the original parts are hard to find. Then comes in restomod as a better alternative since you can make do with old and modern parts. This means that the car’s old design can be flaunted instead of being hidden and forgotten in a garage.

Restomod These Classics

Here’s a list of cars that can be resto-modded and if you’re looking for a classic car whose look you should adopt, this list will help you with it.

1. Ford Mustang

It’s no longer new to see a Ford Mustang from the 1960s flying on roads today since it is one of the most popular cars for resto-modding. Resto-modding a ride of this nature is easy given that they are several replacement and restoration parts lying around in the market. There’s the potential to pair the Mustang with a newer Ford drivetrain that will allow modern upgrades to be made to its internal build.

2. Chevy Camaro

The Chevy Camaro is another popular classic ride that is often resto-modded. A better version of its original self would often feature big wheels, hood scoops, matte paint, etc. all to make it look a bit more modern. And like the Ford Mustang, the Chevy Camaro can be upgraded with V8 Corvette engines and newer drivetrains to enhance its performance on the road.

3. ICON Ford Bronco

Now the ICON Ford Bronco is quite different since it has already been resto-modded by the California-based company ICON4x4. This a company that specializes in modifying classic Jeeps and Land Cruisers with modern engines, matte paint, and so much more.

The ICON Ford Bronco, for instance, is a modified version of the first-generation Ford Bronco. This new variant is quite impressive since it features a Ford Coyote 5.0-liter V8, five-speed manual transmission, ABS brakes, and a fully-adjustable suspension kit. It may have been redesigned extensively, but it still bears the iconic look of a classic SUV from the late 1960s.

The Bottom Line

There are more reasons than one why restomods are the best of both worlds for every car fanatic that wants to relive the past today. Pick a classic car from decades ago, replace its engine, wheels, etc. with that of modern parts, and you’ll well be on your way to having it all.

The best part is, you do not lose out on the benefits of driving a modern car since the only difference would be in the aesthetics. It all boils down to what appeals to you most – Driving the latest modern car that is also plying the road? or being unique by driving an old car that moves like a modern car?

Torque Converter Problems: Symptoms & Replacement Costs

Torque Converter Problems Symptoms & Replacement Cost - Gearstar

It may be a bit challenging to ascertain if the problems with your car are originating from its torque converter or transmission. As such, mistaking the symptoms of a failing torque converter for that of the transmission could lead to a waste of time and resources – without getting the solution that was expected.

A repair shop, on the contrary, will be able to determine the root cause of the problem just by analyzing these signs. That does not mean that you too can’t tell if the problem is from the torque converter. However, it begins by knowing the symptoms of a faulty torque converter and the replacement cost that will be needed.


What Are Torque Converters?

A torque converter is a device that is situated between the engine and the transmission. This device transfers the engine’s power to the transmission as such; it has replaced the clutch used in manuals. Also, the torque converter helps to keep the power output of the engine in the optimum range by multiplying the torque at low RPM.


Symptoms of Torque Converter Problems

Some symptoms of torque converter problems have been outlined below. These are the signs you should be on the lookout for to ensure your car does not fail when you least expect.


1. Slipping

A torque converter can slip out of gear or delay a shift its fin or bearing is damaged. This is because the torque converter changes the engine’s torque into hydraulic pressure that is required to ship the transmission’s gears.

In the same vein, inadequate or excessive fluid in the transmission can cause the gears to perform in an unexpected manner. One of such is slippage which is evident in the car’s loss of acceleration and reduction in fuel economy.


2. Overheating

Another sign of a problem in the torque converter is if your car’s temperature gauge indicates that there is overheating by flashing a transmission control unit light on your dashboard. This sign may be triggered by a decline in the fluid pressure or a malfunctioning solenoid.

Slipping while you’re driving can also lead to overheating. On the other hand, overheating is not a good thing for your converter since it can lead to the wear of the transmission’s internal components. Moreover, the converter will not be able to carry out its primary function of transferring power from the engine to the transmission.


3. Contaminated Transmission Fluid

A torque converter is filled with Automatic transmission fluid (ATF). If the fluid contains debris, grime, or a black sludge, it is contaminated, and this is a sign that the transmission is damaged. Also, dirty fluid can impact the components of the torque converter such as the stator’s bearings and turbine’s fins.

To prevent either of these from happening over time, you need to ensure that you have high-quality fluid in your transmission at all times. Keep in mind that you can save a lot of money by just replacing the dirty fluid.


4. Shuddering

Your car is shuddering when you’re moving on a smooth road, yet it feels like you’re on a rocky surface which makes the ride bumpy – it is a sign that there could be a problem in the lockup clutch located in the torque converter.

What happens here, is the difficulty of the lockup clutch to enable the converter to make a smooth transmission to direct drive. Thus, if you experience this occasionally, employ the services of a local repair shop.


5. Increased Stall Speed

The point at which the engine’s RPMs are high enough for the torque converter to transfer the engine’s power to the transmission is called stall speed. A damaged torque converter will be unable to provide a seamless transfer of the engine’s rotational force into hydraulic pressure.

The downside to this is that there could be an increase in the normal stall speed, and as such, it could take the transmission more time to engage the engine.


6. Unusual Sounds

A bad torque converter will emit noises, and that is an obvious sign that it needs to be checked. Therefore, if you hear a whirring or clicking sound, either from the damaged bearings or broken turbine fin, you need a replacement.


Causes of Torque Converter Problems

Before your torque converter shows signs of failure, you need to be wary of what could lead to it. Thus, the following are some of the causes of torque converter problems.


1. Damaged Torque Converter Seals

If the torque converter seal is damaged, it could cause the transmission fluid within the bell housing to leak. When that happens, the torque converter will be unable to provide a smooth transfer of power from the engine to the transmission. As a consequence, there could be overheating, slippage, higher stall speeds, among other problems.


2. Damaged Torque Converter Clutch Solenoid

The torque converter clutch solenoid is an electronic component that helps to measure the fluid pressure and regulate how much fluid the lockup clutch receives.

If the solenoid is faulty, there won’t be an accurate measure of how much transmission fluid is a need which could lead to abnormal fluid pressures. As a consequence, there could be irregular behaviors such as poor gas mileage, engine stalling, among others.


3. Degraded Torque Converter Clutch

Torque converter clutches help to lock the transmission and the engine into direct drive. However, a damaged torque converter can cause the car to stay in gear even when the driver has come to a stop. This converter also can lock into direct drive especially if the clutch plate’s friction material has worn away.


4. Faulty Needle Bearings

The needle bearings separate the stator, turbine, impeller, and converter housing. Alternatively, faulty bearings could lead to the creation of noises while driving. It could also lead to the accumulation of metal chips in the transmission fluid due to metal to metal contact between these components of the torque converter.


Torque Converter Replacement Costs

It is less expensive to replace a torque converter compared to a transmission. For starters, the torque converter costs between $150 to $350. Therefore, if you are currently experiencing any of the symptoms of torque converter problems, you may need a good idea of how much it’ll cost to get it fixed or replaced.

If you plan on fixing it yourself, then you’ll spend around $150 to $500. On the contrary, taking the vehicle to the transmission shop may require $600 to $1000 to cover the repair costs. It’ll also take about 5 to 10 hours to get the job done.


The Bottom Line

Torque converter problems can be avoided when you know the symptoms to look out for. Once these signs are evident, it is needful to get the unit fixed or rely on the expertise of a professional.

The replacement cost of a torque converter is inexpensive, especially when you compare to the damage it could cause to your car’s transmission if it is not fixed on time. It is, therefore, needful for you to spot these signs and take action immediately if any of the symptoms are evident.

Why Are Automatic Transmissions Better Than Manuals?

There’s an everlasting debate around manual and automatic transmissions, with both the types showcasing some promising pros and cons. However, modern problems call for modern solutions and hence a majority of the top-notch motor vehicle brands have adopted the automatic way of life with self-shifting gears making transmissions smoother than ever. However, if you’re a novice when it comes to car gear, we have just the list of pros and cons needed to tell you why automatic or self-transmissions will be perfect for you.

How Do Automatic Transmissions Work?

Before we take the dive into the pros and cons, let’s get to know automatic transmissions better. Every time you change gears in your car, the power from the engine transfers to the drive axle and powers mobility in the vehicle, making it move forward. In a manual transmission, the driver has to engage or disengage gears to make it move, whereas, in automatic transmissions, multiple gears work together constantly allowing the car to change gears on its own. Because of this, drivers, usually beginners or intermediate level drivers, prefer the automatic transmission over the manual. Apart from this:

    • Automatic gears are much easier to use and are considered a safer option for unsteady terrains. The next time you plan a weekend gateway to the hills, make sure you choose automatic over manual.
    • Automatic gears can start, accelerate, and stop cars much easily because of the automatic gears, which means cutting through traffic, sudden halts, open highways, and crowded roads can easily be steered with automatic gears.

Intrigued yet? If you’re already looking at automatic transmission for sale, you’ve come to the right place. However, before you splurge on your new gears, let us tell you why manual gears too are in demand.

    • Manual transmissions are usually cheaper and come with better fuel efficiency.
    • Professional riders usually prefer manual since you can customize your gear shifts according to your needs without having a machine automatically determine.

While some cars are incomplete with an automatic transmission, the others prefer a vintage touch to their vehicles! The trick is to choose the right gear for the right vehicle, and the rides will be smoother than ever!

5 Signs Your Transmission Fluid Is Low

5 Signs Your Transmission Fluid Is Low - Gearstar Performance Transmissions

Do you own a car and are you aware that your transmission can encounter problems? If that’s a no, then be informed that there are sure signs that your transmission fluid is low and knowing these symptoms can help you to avoid issues in the long run.

You may be wondering, what happens if the transmission fluid is low? The hard truth is that for each time you delay to top up the fluid, it is one step closer to totally damaging your car’s transmission, its engine, and other essential components.

The effect may be evident whether you’re aware of the early symptoms of low transmission fluid or not. For this reason, we’ve outlined the low transmission fluid symptoms, which will enable you to know when you need transmission fluid.

Why Is Transmission Fluid Important?

It may just be fluid and not some expensive component of your car, but why is transmission fluid so important? Now, if that question has crossed your mind time and again, here’s what you should know.

1. Facilitates the Transfer of Power

The transmission’s ability to transfer power from the engine to the pavement can be attributed to its fluid. In the same vein, the torque converter relies on automatic transmission fluid (ATF) to form a hydraulic circuit which enables it to transmit the rotational force between the engine and the transmission.

2. Cooling the Transmission

As the transmission operates for a long time, it tends to create heat. However, the fluid helps to absorb this heat and expels the heat through the radiator. This fluid helps to reduce slippage or the tendency for it to occur.

3. Enable Smooth Operation

Generally, the transmission fluid enables the car’s internal components to run smoothly. That is evident in that fact that when it runs low, these components can wear and tear and even to a level where they are beyond repair.

Signs of Low Transmission Fluid

Outlined below, are the symptoms of low transmission, which will ensure that you do not keep driving when the fluid is low. Several users have asked if there is a low transmission fluid light that would’ve quickly notified them that it’s time for a refill.

While there’s no outright yes or no to that, nonetheless, being on the lookout for these significant symptoms can save you a lot of time, energy, and money, of having to repair car parts. They include:

    • Warning light.
    • Transmission overheating.
    • Difficulty in shifting gears.
    • Transmission fluid leakage.
    • Generation of unusual sounds.
    • Transmission slipping problems.

1. Transmission Overheating

If your transmission begins to overheat, it’s a clear sign that trouble is brewing. It won’t come as a surprise if the car’s transmission ends up failing as a result of this ineffective transmission of fluid. This is because the fluid aids in the lubrication of components to reduce friction.

On the other hand, it is recommended that your fluid temperature should not go higher than 200 degrees since it also impacts negatively on the vehicle’s performance. Also, consider the following temperature which could damage the transmission:

    • 220 degrees: Varnish begins to form on metal parts.
    • 240 degrees: Seals start to harden.
    • 260 degrees: Clutches and the transmission bands start to slip.
    • 295 degrees: Urgent need to call a tow truck.

2. Difficulty in Shifting Gears

Car problems can also stem from the sudden hard shifting of gears. While the sign might be most prevalent in manual transmissions which have led to the term “low manual transmission fluid symptoms,” there’s no saying that hard shifting cannot occur in automatics. The difficulty in shifting gears in automatics is evident when the car accelerates less smoothly compared to its mode of operation in the past.

That is to say; there is a sluggish response or delay (two to three seconds) in engaging the Drive or Reverse gears. It’s also possible for these gears to be unresponsive, which can also be linked to the low transmission fluid pressure.

For manual transmissions, the gears may respond for a while since they do not require oil pressure to function and rely on direct drive system to move between gears. Nonetheless, there will come a time where the transmission overheats to the point that the gears begin to melt. One way to prevent this is to ensure that the oil in the gearbox is sufficient. It must also be clean and free of any dirt that could be transferred into internal parts.

3. Transmission Fluid Leakage

Another sign of low fluids or low ATF is transmission fluid leakage. You can tell if the fluid is leaking from your car by carrying out frequent checks underneath the vehicle as well as the engine’s compartment. A bright red color leaking will tell you that something’s not right.

It’s even worse if it has a dark color and smells burnt, then there’s a need to get help immediately. That is because if the leakage is left unattended to, more content will be discharged, which affects the way the internal components are lubricated. Less fluid at some point will create noise as the car shifts between gears and could take it one step further to need a new set of gears as a replacement.

4. Generation of Unusual Sounds

Vehicles are meant to operate noiselessly, but that may not be the case if you’re running low on the fluid. It means the bands and clutches will be poorly lubricated as they rub together.

Similarly, if there is a loose transmission torque converter, it can also result in the production of noise, which may be similar to a rhythmic pounding. There’s also a grinding clatter that can be heard while in a neutral position and it is a sign of low transmission fluid. Any of these sounds produced calls for a check-up of the transmission to prevent future problems.

5. Transmission Slipping Problems

Poor synchronization between the vehicle and the engine could cause transmission slipping. This is when an engaged gear slips and as such, does not stay in the mode which it was selected. What happens here is the engine speeding up without the car itself responding.

As a consequence, it should not be ignored since it could cause problems in gear engagement. This and many more make driving on low transmission fluid, not advisable. Another issue is having residue build-up in the fluid, which could retard the free flow of fluid.

6. Warning Light

The fastest way to detect a problem in your car is to take note of the “check engine light” and if it’s notifying you that there could be a minor issue. Even if the car seems to be in great shape, it’s not full proof that there could be no issues somewhere, which is why the light notification should be given importance.

On the other hand, it may be nothing to worry about if it’s the only sign that is evident because some check engine light problems may relate to anti-pollution systems. This means the car can still be in drive without necessarily being stopped. However, if a smell is perceived and noise is heard while the light is blinking, it’s better to stop the car and have it towed to the nearest auto repair shop.

How to Check Your Transmission Fluid Level

If your vehicle is having any of the listed above signs of needing transmission fluid, then you need to confirm that the culprit is actually a low fluid or debris in the oil. All you have to do is use a dipstick to check if oil’s level is in line with the level that has been specified in the car’s manual.

The use of the dipstick can be carried out on a monthly basis. One more way to carry out an examination is to determine if the fluid’s color has changed, or it has a bad smell. Finally, you can change the fluid if its color changes to brown or black, and it has an excessive burning smell.


These signs that your transmission fluid is low are a sure banker since they can help you preserve the life of your car. On the contrary, not being aware of what could potentially damage your much-admired ride could do more harm than good to it.

That being the case, each of the symptoms should be prioritized, and if one or more are encountered, then you need to seek the professional help of a mechanic. They’ll be in the right position to help you out and get your car into good condition again.

And whatever it takes, do not ignore these signs or procrastinate hoping that you can manage the vehicle till the end of the week or months end. The earlier your transmission fluid is restored, the better.

Automatic Transmission Fluid Is Vital to Car Performance & Longevity; Choose Wisely

Automatic Transmission Fluid Is Vital to Car Performance & Longevity; Choose Wisely - Gearstar Performance

Regardless of the car you drive, it’s important to use the proper transmission fluid. And, if your car has a high performance automatic transmission, it’s imperative! The wrong fluid won’t just give your vehicle less performance; it could potentially cause serious damage to the transmission as well. Protect yourself and your car with these tips that will better help you understand and identify the proper automatic transmission fluid to utilize.

How to Check Transmission Fluid

Firstly, you’re going to need to know when to change the fluid in your car. Many regular drivers won’t even think about it, until their car seems as though it’s lagging when changing gears. They’ll pull the dipstick out of the auto transmission, and find that the fluid has gone down, smells bad, and looks dirty. If that’s happened, the damage may have already been done.

If you’re keeping up with regular auto maintenance, you’ll know that for every 30,000 miles you should be changing your car’s automatic transmission fluid. If your car sees a lot of time on the track, you can even step that up to an annual fluid change. This ensures that your car’s fluid is always fresh and optimal.

Choose Automatic Transmission Fluid Wisely

Back in the day, you only had two choices when it came to automatic transmission fluid: Type F, or Dexron. Now though, there’s a plethora of choices out there. This is because car companies are looking to increase the fuel mileage in their cars, and creating lubricants for meeting different sets of requirements. That’s why you have to be careful about the fluid you use, as the wrong one could spell all sorts of disaster for your engine.

Here’s what you have to keep in mind when you’re picking out a fluid for your performance car:

Car Age

If you have a classic car, then the fluid you pick needs to be compatible with it. Newer fluids won’t have been made with your vehicle in mind, and so you need to be very careful. For example, the GM 4L60E is said to work well with Dexron VI. However, that fluid wasn’t even created until 2005, so you’d actually be better off with Dexron III.

Fluid Types, Brands

If you’re driving a Ford car, you may think that you can only use Ford fluids in it. In fact, that isn’t true. In some cases, you may be better off with a different brand of fluid altogether. Don’t be blinded to the right choices, because the brand isn’t ‘right’.

Avoid Universal Fluids

To reduce confusion, some companies are creating universal automatic transmission fluids that are designed to work in all cars. If you’re driving a performance car though, they’re to be avoided. Stick with a single purpose fluid that you know will work in your car.

Synthetic Fluid vs. Conventional Fluid

You have a choice of synthetic or conventional fluids to use in your transmission. The best type in performance cars is synthetic fluids, as they offer higher performance.

How to Change Transmission Fluid

Once you’ve got the right transmission fluid for your car, you’ll need to get it changed. Here’s how you should change your fluid to get the maximum performance. You’ll need to take the transmission pan off to do this, so ensure that you’re blocking the back wheels of your car. Put the car on sturdy jack stands or ramps so you can get good access to the transmission pan itself.

Once you’ve opened the pan, you can either let it drain out this way, or pump it out to ensure that you get as much out as possible. You’ll then need to remove the pan completely, so you can get any sediment or debris out.

Now this has been done, you’ll need to replace the filter and seal. Once this is done, you can them replace the fluid with the new fluid you’ve obtained.

Of course, you can go to an auto mechanic and have this done for you. Many have the equipment needed to get the job done quickly and cleanly. However, you do need to be careful which mechanic you choose to go to. Be sure to do through research on various local mechanics who are familiar with working on high-performance automatic transmissions – ask around and read reviews before you trust just anyone with your car.

As you can see, there are a few things you need to think about before changing your car’s automatic transmission fluid. Do research beforehand, to ensure that you use the proper fluid for your performance car.