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Signs of common gearbox problems you should never ignore

Team AckoSept 23, 2022

A car’s gearbox directs power from the engine to the wheels. Because of this, it is one of the most crucial components of your vehicle. Yet it is something that you may tend to overlook until it completely breaks down! Servicing your car regularly should keep things smooth. However, if you do have an issue, understanding some of the most common gearbox problems will help you know what to expect at the service centre and manage the situation accordingly.

Common Car Gearbox Problems and Their Solutions

List of common car gearbox problems and their solutions

You don’t want your gearbox to have issues as it is a vital component of your car. To help you out, we have curated a list of gearbox problems and highlighted how you can identify and fix them.

1. Loss of power

One of the most common car gearbox problems is the car's acceleration. If you notice a considerable delay in your car's acceleration, it could be the inefficiency of its transmission. If the RPM (Rotation Per Minute) increases upon engaging a gear, but the vehicle’s speed hardly increases, there is cause for your concern.

Cause

  • Worn out or faulty clutch plates

  • An issue with the master cylinder

  • Oil leakage

Solution

  • Call roadside assistance to move your vehicle to the service station.

  • Get it checked with the concerned mechanic over the loss of power. If there is an issue, get it fixed and then you can start driving your vehicle.

2. Leaking fluid

The most visible issue is leaking fluids from under the vehicle. In most cases, it could be the gearbox oil. 

Cause

  • Broken seal or gasket 

  • Crack in the transmission casing

  • Faulty or broken drain seal

  • Loose bolts or nuts

Solution

  • Follow the protocol of not driving the car but tow it to the service centre for a thorough check-up.

  • If the seal is broken, replace it, or if there is a bigger problem, get it repaired before you start driving your car.

3. Clunking noise during gear shifts

Clunking or buzzing noise during gearshifts could indicate an issue with the gear box of car.

Cause

  • Damaged gears

  • Low gearbox oil

  • Worn out bearings

Solution

  • Replace damaged gears

  • Refill lubricants

  • Replace bearings

As mentioned, avoid driving the car as it may cause further damage to the gearbox. Get it towed to your service centre or the nearest authorised service centre to get it fixed.

4. Unable to shift gears

Shifting gears might be tough. The act may even make a grinding noise resisting the gearshift. It could be due to the following causes.

Cause

  • Low levels of gearbox oil

  • Shift cable or clutch linkage issue

  • Sensor issue

  • Service interval is due

Solution

  • Check the oil and replenish if required

  • Adjust the shift cable or clutch linkage

  • Get the sensor rectified

  • Get the car serviced immediately

5. Burning smell

Every time you try to engage your car’s transmission, a burning smell could emanate from the bonnet, or you could smell it inside the cabin. This could mean a car gear issue.

Cause

  • Wire insulation burning on the exhaust manifold

  • The transmission is running hot

  • Oil leakage into the exhaust manifold

  • Low oil level

  • Wrong type of transmission oil

Solution

  • Get the leakage checked and fix it

  • Change the oil if it is too thin or thick

  • Use genuine transmission oil for better efficiency

6. Automatic transmission shudders 

If you have an automatic car and notice the transmission shudders and do not engage gears, there could be a gearbox issue. Sometimes you may hear a rattling noise, and the car may not be able to move out of the first gear.

Cause

  • Failing torque converter

Solution

  • Change or repair the torque converter

7. Jumping gears

Your car’s gearbox slips to the top or lower gear without your intervention. This is known as jumping gears or slipping and popping into and out of gear.

Cause

  • Incorrect amount of transmission fluid

  • Broken or worn-out linkage rod

Solution

  • Top up the fluid or drain it and fill it with a new one

  • Repair or change the linkage rod

8. Blocked transmission filter

Due to the movement of gearbox parts, there is bound to be wear and tear. This results in the accumulation of grime and dirt on the transmission fluid. To arrest this issue, a transmission filter blocks out the contaminants for a cleaner oil. However, over time, it can get dirty and blocked, preventing the fluid from lubricating the gearbox.

Cause

  • Old transmission fluid

  • Fluid is not original or genuine

How to avoid common gearbox problems

Avoiding common car gearbox problems is crucial to keeping your car performing efficiently. Issues with the transmission can lead to expensive repairs, so it is essential to prevent gearbox issues in your car. Here are some tips to keep your vehicle’s transmission in optimal condition.

  • Get a professional mechanic: It is vital that you find an automotive specialist, mechanic, or service centre specialising in the type of car you drive. It ensures that you receive quality service and prevention strategies.

  • Perform frequent inspection: Your vehicle mechanic or specialist should frequently inspect the vehicle for any problem before it becomes a significant issue. Ensure that you stick to the manufacturer’s recommendations for the best results.

  • Adhere to scheduled services: Ensure you maintain the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals. This ensures your car is in good condition at all times.

  • Follow up on suspicious symptoms: Timely action regarding suspicious symptoms, as mentioned in the above-listed signs of common gearbox problems, may reduce the extent of damage and repair bills.

  • Drive with care: Some of the fundamentals of driving carefully are engaging the clutch only when required, not using the clutch as a footrest, etc. Driving with care will ensure your car gearbox lasts longer.

Frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some common questions about car gearbox problems.

How do you know if your car has a gearbox problem?

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You can know if your car has a gearbox problem by being sensitive to unusual sounds, grinding or heating while shifting gears. There could be an issue that needs to be inspected immediately. Always use the clutch and the gears carefully and with a lot of care for a longer-lasting transmission.

Can I get car insurance for the gearbox?

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You can buy the Engine Protection Add-on cover (along with Comprehensive Car Insurance) in this regard. It provides coverage for consequential damage to the internal parts of the car’s engine, gearbox, and differential assembly caused due to leakage of lubricating oil/coolant, water ingression, and hydrostatic lock of the insured car.

Are gearboxes expensive to repair?

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Repairing a gearbox usually costs more than other car parts due to its several critical components. Increased wear and tear of these components can reduce the life of the gearbox and its efficiency.

Can a gearbox be repaired?

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Yes, a car gearbox can be repaired if the repairs aren’t severe. However, checking with a specialist before you begin any repairs is ideal.

Infographic

Infographic on common gearbox problems

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