Signs of Transmission Slipping & How To Fix It

signs of transmission slipping

The signs of transmission slipping can really be a concern for drivers. Because if the vehicle is driven for a long time with the transmission slipping, it can badly damage the engine and transmission of the vehicle. In many cases, transmission slipping can also damage the drive shaft.

In this post, we will discuss in detail the signs of transmission slipping and also learn how to fix transmission slipping.

What is Transmission Slipping?

Transmission slipping refers to the gears not engaging properly with the main shaft or the gears suddenly moving into neutral while the vehicle is moving, causing the gears to fail to engage properly with the main shaft, causing a loss of engine power transfer. This happens, and the engine stops driving the wheels of the vehicle.

Often, transmission slipping in vehicles is a momentary disengagement or slipping sensation where the engine’s RPM exceeds without increasing the vehicle’s speed and the engine suddenly accelerates. Transmission slipping problems in vehicles can occur in both manual and automatic transmissions. However, the causes of slipping may be different in manual and automatic transmissions.

Signs of Transmission Slipping

Signs of transmission slipping can usually be gear shifts into Neutral, loud engine revs, gear slipping, high rpm, rough & delayed shifts, unusual transmission noises, vibrating gear shifter or transmission warning light illumination.

It is a good idea to investigate the cause of transmission slip when these signs are detected. Now we will know the signs of transmission slipping in detail.

1. Gear Shifting Issues

hard shifting manual transmission

Often, with transmission slipping, you may experience a delay in gear engagement when shifting gears. At times, the transmission may shift unexpectedly into the wrong gear. Transmission slipping can indicate gear slipping or difficulty moving the vehicle.

2. RPM Increase Without Acceleration


When you depress the accelerator, it is normal for the engine rpm to increase, but sudden transmission slipping can cause the engine rpm to increase significantly without any increase in vehicle speed.

In this situation, the engine often overaccelerates. So this is a clear indication of a loss of engine power due to slipping gear. Sudden transmission slipping causes engine power to stop being transferred to the transmission.

3. Delay Acceleration

You may notice a reduction in engine power or acceleration due to the transmission slipping, especially when you’re trying to accelerate quickly or when engine rpms are going upward.

The vehicle may then feel sluggish or struggle to reach higher speeds. At times, the transmission’s slipping causes the engine to idle at very high RPMs.

4. Burning Smell


A burning smell can also be a sign of transmission slipping, which often leads to overheating of the transmission fluid and the smell of burning fluid. Oftentimes, transmission slipping in vehicles can indicate transmission overheating. Because the slipping gears can generate excess heat due to transmission slipping, which can lead to a burning smell.

5. Transmission Fluid Leaking

Sometimes, if you notice a stain of red or brown fluid under the vehicle when it is parked, this could be a sign of a transmission fluid leak. If the transmission fluid leak persists for a long time, it reduces the transmission fluid. Therefore, even a low level of transmission fluid can cause the gear to slip.

6. Transmission Warning Light On

Many modern vehicles have a transmission warning light on the dashboard, which illuminates when there is a transmission fault. If you see the transmission warning light illuminated on the vehicle dashboard, it could indicate a problem with the transmission and could also be a sign of the transmission slipping.

7. Abnormal Noise

tranmission whining noise

Often, slipping gears in vehicles can cause unusual noises. Especially when you are shifting gear or the gear slips suddenly. However, other transmission problems can also cause unusual noises such as grinding, whining, or humming when the vehicle is in motion. These noises may indicate internal transmission problems.

Possible Causes of Transmission Slipping

The most common causes of transmission slipping are worn clutch plates or pressure plates, worn clutch release bearings, low transmission fluid levels, faulty suckinds or valves, bad torque converters, worn gears, or electrical and mechanical issues.

Often, there are mainly two types of transmissions used in vehicles. (Manual transmission and automatic transmission). The reasons for slipping are different in both types of transmissions.

1. Low Fluid Level

Oftentimes, bad or low fluid in an automatic transmission can also cause slipping. If your vehicle has a low transmission fluid level or the fluid is old and worn out, this could result in insufficient hydraulic pressure and may cause gear slipping. In many cases, gear shifting problems can also occur.

2. Faulty Torque Converter

The torque converter in an automatic transmission is responsible for transferring and removing power from the engine to the transmission. If the torque converter is defective, such as a faulty lock-up clutch or worn bearings, this may cause the transmission to slip.

3. Faulty Shifter Solenoid

Solenoids are used in the automatic transmissions of vehicles to control the flow of transmission fluid and engage gears. If an automatic transmission solenoid becomes stuck or fails to operate correctly, this can also result in improper clutch engagement and gear slipping. At times, gear shifting can be a problem.

4. Valve Body Issues

The valve body is also a component in the automatic transmission that directs the flow of fluid and controls the shifting of gears. If the valve body is corroded, blocked, or damaged, it can cause erratic shifting and slipping of the gears.

5. Worn Clutch Plate/Disk

Over time, clutch plates in vehicles can wear down due to normal use. When the clutch disc wears out and becomes too thin, it cannot provide enough friction to effectively transfer engine power to the transmission, resulting in harsh and slippery gear shifts.

6. Worn Pressure Plate/Disk

In a manual transmission, the pressure plate exerts pressure on the clutch disc to engage and disengage the transmission, thereby transferring and disengaging engine power to the transmission. If the pressure plate becomes worn or weak, it may not exert enough force to properly engage the clutch disc, which can result in gear slippage and harsh shifting.

7. Worn Clutch Release Bearing

The release bearing in a manual transmission allows the clutch to be easily engaged and disengaged by applying pressure against the pressure plate, allowing the clutch system to function efficiently when the clutch pedal is depressed or released. If the release bearing becomes worn or damaged, this can result in inconsistent clutch engagement, which can result in transmission slipping and the harshness experienced in gear shifting.

8. Dirty or Worn Flywheel

Often, oil or other contaminants on the clutch disc or flywheel in manual transmissions can reduce friction and cause gear slippage and shifting stiffness. This can often be caused by a leaking rear main seal, failure of the transmission input shaft seal, or improper maintenance.

9. Improper Driving Technique

In some cases, transmission slipping can also occur because of a slippery driver. Such as using the clutch pedal, excessive slippage during gear changes, or aggressive shifting. These behaviors create excessive heat in the transmission and can cause wear on the clutch components, which can cause transmission slippage or harsh gear shifting.

How To Fix Transmission Slipping?

To fix transmission slipping, you must check the transmission fluid level. If the transmission fluid is low, it should be topped up. Because a low level of transmission fluid can be the main cause of transmission slipping.

If the transmission is still slipping, it could be due to a mechanical problem. To fix this, you should get it checked by a professional vehicle mechanic and consider appropriate repairs or replacement of the damaged parts as recommended by the mechanic.

In addition, there may be other reasons for transmission slipping that you can check and fix yourself, such as preventing external transmission fluid leaks and correcting your bad driving habits.

Fixes For Automatic Transmission Slipping

  • When the automatic transmission is slipping, first check the fluid level; if it is low, top up the fluid level.
  • Check for transmission fluid leaks. Sometimes the transmission may have internal leaks, which will require the replacement of seals or gaskets.
  • Contaminated or burned fluid can also cause transmission slippage. So drain out the contaminated fluid and fill in the new, clean fluid.
  • After this, the shifter solenoid should be checked. If the shifter solenoid is bad, repair or replacement should be considered.
  • Automatic transmission slipping can also be caused by a faulty or failing torque converter. So the torque converter should be checked by the mechanic, and if it is bad, it should be replaced as per the mechanic’s suggestion.
  • If your vehicle’s automatic transmission has worn gears, you may need to rebuild or replace the entire transmission.

Fixes For Manual Transmission Slipping

  • In a manual transmission, the first thing to check is the gear shifter spring, ball, and linkage. These components are responsible for stopping of the gear set by the driver. But due to wear and tear, the gear starts slipping. That’s why they should be changed first, if needed.
  • After this, the clutch plate and pressure should be checked. Because worn clutches and pressure plates can also cause gear slipping. Therefore, the worn-out clutch and pressure plate should be replaced.
  • The clutch release bearing can also be a cause of transmission slipping. If the clutch release bearing is bad, it should also be replaced.
  • Even if the transmission gear is damage or worn, the gear slips. In this case, a suitable repair or replacement should be considered, as suggested by the mechanic.


Q. How do you fix a slipping transmission?

If your vehicle’s automatic transmission is sleeping, the first thing you should do is top up the transmission fluid level. Because the most important reason for automatic transmission sleeping is a low fluid level. If the problem still persists, you need to contact a vehicle mechanic.

Q. Is it OK to drive with the transmission slipping?

No, if your vehicle is suffering from the problem of transmission slipping, then you should avoid driving the vehicle. Because doing so can severely damage your vehicle’s engine and transmission.

Q. Is a slipping transmission expensive to fix?

It depends on the reason behind your vehicle’s transmission sleeping. However, transmission problems are costly. Fixing these problems could cost you between $2500 for transmission repair and $3000 to $4000 for replacement.

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