Signs the Transmission Is Going Out in My Truck


The most common signs that the transmission is going out in a truck are the presence of transmission leaks or low fluid levels, excessive noises and rough shifting. Transmissions may also shift at the wrong time, not shift into the next gear or not engage in any gear. The most common standard transmission problems are in relation to the clutch system.

Transmission Fluid Leak

  • The first signs of a transmission fluid leak can be improper shifting or a leak that is apparent on the ground below the transmission, transmission fluid container or base tube. Check your transmission fluid level. It is rare for the level to be below the recommended guidelines unless there is a leak somewhere in the system as a transmission is a sealed system. When you check the fluid level, also notice if the color is dark brown or black instead of a reddish color. This can be a sign of the fluid not circulating correctly and actually being burnt, which thickens the fluid and leads to insufficient lubrication in the system. Putting a large piece of cardboard under the vehicle that is underneath both the front and rear seals and the transmission fluid reservoir can isolate a leak so that only the seals at any given place may need replacing. Leaks are common at the transmission drain, the front seal between the transmission and engine and at the selector shaft.

Rough Shifting

  • There can be many reasons for a transmission that shifts hard. Newer model vehicles with automatic transmissions have shift sensors that tie into the computer system and notify the transmission when it should shift into each gear. Rough shifting could be a sign of a faulty sensor. There are also several oxygen sensors in a vehicle, which could be faulty and cause the same inconsistent or hard shifting problems.

Shifting At the Wrong Time

  • A transmission that contains a shift sensor may sometimes shift too early or too late. If it shifts too early, it will lag into the next gear without the normal pickup speed associated with shifting into that gear. If the transmission shifts too late, it will audibly rev the engine's RPMs before shifting into the next gear. A throttle cable that is out of adjustment and may only need adjusting to rectify the problem can cause these two scenarios.

Excessive Noise

  • The most common problem associated with a transmission malfunction on a standard transmission is excessive noise. A high-pitched squeal or grating noise can occur when the clutch is depressed. This is the sign of failure of the clutch release bearing or pilot bearing. The same types of noises that are heard when the engine is idling and the clutch is not depressed point to failure of the clutch disc, clutch release or pilot bearing or torque tube bearings.

No Movement/No Engagement

  • If the transmission in your truck will not engage at all, then you have no movement. A transmission may also seem stuck in one gear and not engage into the next. It can be stuck in first, second or third gear and not shift upward, or it may not engage in reverse gear. If you have any of these symptoms, it is best to have a trained professional look at it because more than likely it is an internal transmission problem.

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