How to Tell When a Torque Converter Is Out

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A torque converter works similarly to the clutch on an automatic car or truck transmission. Problems with the torque converter can cause your transmission to malfunction and may cause lasting damage if left unrepaired. It can be difficult to determine whether your vehicle's problem is the transmission itself or the torque converter, so you should to take your vehicle to a certified automobile mechanic for a professional diagnosis before you attempt to repair the vehicle.

  • Drive car for 20 to 30 minutes, paying attention to whether the transmission is overheating. Transmission overheating is a common torque converter problem which can be caused by transmission fluid not being allowed to flow through the filter properly. The check engine or transmission light on the vehicle's dashboard will come on if your transmission is overheating.

  • Listen for any noises coming from the transmission when the vehicle is in motion. Noises can be a sign that the gears in the transmission's torque converter have broken. Check the transmission fluid. If there are bits and pieces of metal in the fluid, this will confirm that the torque converter's interior gears, bearings or blades may have broken or fragmented.

  • Determine if transmission is slipping. Slipping occurs when the car should shift automatically, but instead remains in the lower gear while the engine RPMs continue to rise. This is caused by the torque converter not performing its clutching function properly and is a common symptom of a bad torque converter. Vehicle may also shudder.

  • Notice if the car stalls when you are attempting to take off or shift gears. This is a sign of the torque converter failing to perform its clutching function properly.

  • Track your fuel economy by dividing the the number of miles you traveled by number of gallons of fuel you use. A noticeable decrease in fuel economy can be a symptom of a failing torque converter, causing the engine to work harder and use more fuel.

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