Car transmission systems are complex networks of moving parts that interact to transfer the right amount of engine power to the wheels with maximum efficiency. They allow the gear ratio between the engine and the drive wheels to be altered as the vehicle gets faster or slower. The car gears are essential as without them the engine revs would be uncontrollably high, leading to the unit’s destruction. These parts are constantly subjected to extreme temperatures and pressures; regular maintenance is therefore critical for keeping your car on the road. Extensive damage can not only cost you your savings but also your safety. It is important to know the symptoms of a failing transmission to prevent further damage.
Signs of transmission problems
How to check the transmission systemHow to do a diagnostic scan:
- If the check engine light illuminates, it would be a good idea to scan the system and decrypt the diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs). You can do this using an OBD2 scanner. The device should help you determine operating factors such as the temperature and transmission inputs and outputs.
- First you will need to locate the data link connector, which can usually be found under the instrument panel on the driver’s side. After switching off the vehicle, plug in the scan tool using the connector.
- Once you have done this, turn the vehicle on and wait for the scanner to start up. You may need to turn it on using the power button. When the device is ready to use, you can click on the scan button and follow the on-screen instructions. It will bring up a number of DTCs which indicate the problems that the onboard computer has detected.
- Read through the diagnosis carefully. You can look up the codes in the manual or on the internet to decipher them.
- You can check the fluid level using a dipstick which is similar to the one used for oil. A lot of issues can be linked back to the fluid levels and if there isn’t enough ATF, there is probably a leak. On the other hand, overfilling the reservoir can cause the fluid to foam, putting greater pressure on the components.
- Before checking the tank, make sure that the car is parked on a flat surface. Run the engine for a few minutes so that the fluid is warm enough. Most manufacturers will allow you to keep the engine running for this process.
- Now you can pull out the dipstick and clean it using a clean, lint-free rag. Then place it back into the reservoir and remove it again to measure the fluid level. The markings on the stick will indicate whether the ATF is low or the tank is full.
- You should also check the colour of the ATF. If it is bright and clean, it is still good to use. If it is black or brown, it is probably burnt and contaminated.
It is better to have manual fluid checked by a technician as it can be difficult to access and most manual vehicles don’t have a dipstick for this.