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Transmission slipping must be dealt with as soon as possible in order to avoid major repairs. Learn what to look out for.

The transmission is responsible for converting power from the car engine into motion for the vehicle to move. Vehicles come with a manual or automatic transmission. If you drive a car with an automatic transmission, the gears change for you while you may have to put a car with manual transmission into gear via its gear selector.

However, one of the common problems associated with transmissions is known as a slipping transmission. This article covers what transmission slipping means, its causes, signs to watch out for, how to prevent the problem, etc.

Transmission slipping: What does it mean?

Transmission slipping refers to a situation in which your vehicle slips into gear without corresponding to its current speed. This can be discomfiting and troubling. In many cases, it is a signal that your vehicle needs thorough maintenance. This is why it is usually risky to leave your transmission unchecked.

What causes transmission slipping?

The following situations or conditions may cause your transmission to start slipping:

  • Solenoid problems
  • Worn-out gears
  • Broken or worn transmission bands
  • Burned, low, or worn-out transmission fluid
  • Clutch problems
  • Torque converter issues

Signs of transmission slipping to look out for

As with most automotive issues, the earlier you deal with it, the more successful you will be at avoiding major repairs. The longer you put off fixing your slipping transmission, the more damage you will likely compound. This will eventually cost you lots of your hard-earned money to fix.

This is why this section deals with the signs to look out for to inform you that your transmission may be slipping:

Unauthorized switching of gears

One of the signs that reveal that your transmission is slipping is that your vehicle suddenly and unexpectedly switches gears as you drive. In some cases, a change in pitch or a noise accompanies the unauthorized switching of gears.

If your car switches gear out of the blue while driving, it can be a potentially life-threatening situation. This implies that your car is unreliable and may start shaking.

When your vehicle feels sluggish

If your car is not accelerating as quickly as it should or feels somewhat sluggish, you could have a slipping transmission problem on your hands. It may also have other issues related to your transmission. This is why you should waste no time in having your vehicle checked by a professional mechanic.

Inability to change gears smoothly

Another symptom or sign of a slipping transmission is when your vehicle finds it difficult to change gears smoothly. You will hear a thud or clunk as your automobile goes down or up in gears.

When there is a delay before movement

If you experience a delay before your car starts moving, it could signify that your transmission has slipped.

As soon as the gear shift moves from ‘Park’ to ‘Drive,’ a long lag ensues before your vehicle starts moving. During this period, the car engine revs but goes nowhere.

When the clutch stops working

This is for those who drive manual transmission vehicles. When you depress the clutch pedal, and nothing happens, your clutch assembly may have been damaged, or something could be wrong with the transmission system.

When the transmission fluid leaks

When you notice a red fluid on your garage floor, coupled with some of the symptoms shared earlier, your transmission may have a problem.

This is because when there is a transmission fluid leak, it results in a slipping transmission.

Is it safe to drive your vehicle when the transmission is slipping?

When you have a transmission slipping issue, it is not safe to drive that vehicle. This is because the safety of the vehicle is highly unpredictable. It can slip into different gears without giving you any warning, shake, or even cause severe damage.

Therefore, get your vehicle checked out immediately when you observe the signs or symptoms of a slipping transmission.

How to prevent transmission slipping

You can prevent transmission slipping. But you need to be sure that fluid leaks or worn-out bands are not behind the problem. If this is the case, you may have to replace either the worn-out gears, the solenoids, the clutch, or the torque converter.

Any of these repairs will cost you a lot of money, especially if a transmission specialist handles it for you. Having an older vehicle will not be in your favor, and this is why you should check out every other possibility first.

Your automobile’s onboard diagnostic computer can inform you of the problem if you own a newer vehicle. This is true if the problem the solenoid is behind the transmission problem.

However, if your newer vehicle transmits error codes, ensure you check them out first in order to determine what they tell you about your transmission’s status. 

If you still can’t pinpoint the problem, consider examining the transmission bands. Replace any worn or broken transmission band. If you have to replace a single band, then ensure you replace them all. This is to prevent dealing with this particular issue within the next few weeks or months.

You can also get right under your hood to confirm the level of your transmission fluid. Ensure the fluid is at its correct level.

If the transmission fluid level is lower than it should be, try and locate the primary source of the leakage. You may find that a seal is loose or discover holes in one of the fluid lines. The transmission pan can also spring a leak, or you may have a faulty transmission pan gasket.

If you are a keen DIYer, you can replace these faulty parts on your own. However, if you discover a cracked torque converter, you may have to invite professionals for a look-see and in-depth repairs.

Identify the origin or source of the leakage and fix it as soon as possible. You can also consider adding an excellent transmission leak sealing solution the next time you refill the transmission fluid.


If your transmission is slipping, you can easily get tempted to make attempts at fixing it on your own. But if you are inexperienced or feel uncomfortable working on your transmission, the best decision you can make is to allow a transmission specialist to handle the repairs for you.

Transmission specialists have the tools and experience to detect the causes behind the slipping of the transmission. Once they diagnose the problem, they can quickly fix it within a short period, and you can get back to your day-to-day lifestyle.

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