Slipping transmission quick fix

Slipping transmission quick fix DEFAULT

Dealing with a slipping transmission can be a significant problem with any car; especially those with automatic transmissions. This is one of the many issues with your auto that can begin as a minor issue and then quickly worsen, becoming more expensive. You should never delay repairing a slipping transmission.

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


There are multiple potential slipping transmission causes, and although maintenance is always required, the severity of the problem can vary greatly. Remember that the transmission slipping indicates that you need a mechanic’s assistance, regardless of the severity.


Signs of a Slipping Transmission: What Does a Slipping Transmission Feel Like?

Signs of a Slipping Transmission

If you are unsure how to tell if your transmission is slipping, be on the lookout for some of the more common transmission slipping symptoms. The following are among the most common slipping transmission signs:


  • Your check engine light is on
  • An rpm of over 3,500
  • Acceleration delays
  • Burning or unusual smells
  • Inability to reverse
  • Problems shifting gears
  • Harsh responses or strange noises when shifting gears
  • The reverse does not engage


If you’re wondering what it means when your transmission is slipping or what transmission slipping is, these transmission slipping signs should give you a good idea. There is no clear definition of exactly one thing that signifies a slipping transmission, as the problem is mostly defined by its symptoms and causes. As such, your best course of action is to watch for the above signs and, if you encounter them, begin to look at your repair options.


Any of the above signs your transmission is slipping may point to a range of problems, not limited to the transmission slipping. However, they do all require maintenance, so if you notice any of those symptoms, you will want to visit your mechanic.


You should also be on the lookout for other potential signs of transmission problems, which may or may not include slipping. Your mechanic can help you with how to tell if transmission is slipping or you have another problem.


Leaking Transmission Fluid

If you notice red fluid underneath your auto, then there is likely a transmission leak from a seal, gasket, or cooler line. This is damaging for the transmission and dangerous if the fluid happens to leak onto a hot surface. You can check the transmission fluid with the dipstick. Keep in mind that some of the other fluids in the transmission must be checked by a professional.


Burning Smell

The potential burning smell is usually the result of low fluid or a fluid leak. Catching this problem early is crucial to being able to fix the transmission.


It Won’t Stay in Gear or Engage

This type of problem may indicate issues with your automatic transmission valve, the shifter cable, the shifter, or a fluid leak. You may even need to have your mechanic check your auto’s computer system to see if there are trouble codes, since the computer lets the transmission known when it should go in gear on newer autos.


No Power for the Car

When your engine runs properly but your auto has minimal or no power, it may be from the computer limiting power, internal transmission problems, or the brakes dragging from a faulty brake hose or caliper.


Shifts Miss Gears or Delay

These problems can be due to low transmission fluid, which could be from water intrusion, lack of maintenance, contamination, or a leak. If you do not take care of this problem, it can lead to overheating that causes serious internal damage. Missing gears or delayed shifting can also be due to engine problems that make the computer prevent the transmission from shifting to a higher gear.


Odd Noises

If you hear a humming, clunking, or buzzing sound from the transmission, this usually indicates an internal problem, such as bad bearing or planetary gear damage. Buzzing might also be due to a leak causing low transmission fluid, a seal, or poor internal sealing surfaces.


Remember that anytime you are unsure of how to determine whether your transmission is slipping, you should consult your mechanic to get an evaluation as well as a fix transmission slipping cost estimate.


Slipping Transmission Causes – Why Is My Transmission Slipping?

As mentioned, there is a long list of potential reasons that your transmission is slipping. Some are more common than others, and most of these are more likely to occur in automatic transmissions.


Low Fluid

Of the various slipping transmission causes, the most common is having low fluid levels. This comes from the vast ways in which low fluid levels can negatively impact your car, from not producing enough hydraulic pressure for engaging gears to overheating.


To check whether low fluid levels are causing your problem, you can just look at the dipstick in your engine compartment. Remember that the system for the transmission is closed. As such, it should never have low levels. If there are low levels, you may be dealing with a leak.


Burnt Fluid

Sometimes, the transmission slipping is due to the fluid burning instead of being low. If the fluid is black or you notice a smell similar to burnt toast, then this is the likely culprit. Burnt fluid can happen when the transmission overheats. In this case, you will need to quickly swap out your transmission fluid. After that, you will need to have a technician inspect your transmission to ensure there is no further damage.


Clutch Problems

Both automatic and manual transmissions use clutches, and while manual transmission slipping is most likely due to clutch issues, it is also a possible cause for an automatic transmission slipping. In an automatic, the transmission and torque converter have clutch plates that can burn or become worn out due to insufficient transmission fluid.


In manuals, the clutch relies on brake pads and other friction material to grab the engine flywall, helping separate the transmission and engine as you change gears. If this material gets worn, the clutch will not fully engage or switch gears, requiring a replacement.

Worn Gears

As your car ages, your gears will begin to wear out. This is completely natural and occurs due to wear and tear. Gears can also wear out from malfunctions. If the gears are frayed or worn, they will not link together properly, leading to bumpy shifting.

Solenoid Issues

Your auto’s solenoid is an electro-hydraulic valve that is responsible for controlling fluid flow in the transmission. If this component has electronic issues or suffers damage, it will not dispense the appropriate amount of fluids, leading to issues like transmission slipping. You can use an OBD2 scanner for trouble codes to help you figure out which solenoid to replace.


Problems with the Torque Converter

The torque converter converts the engine’s power so it is torque, which is the form of power that the transmission can use. Over time, the torque converter can wear down. When functioning properly, fluid will flow through your torque converter. If the fluid does not flow properly, the transmission can misbehave in a variety of ways, including slipping.

Damage to Transmission Bands

It is also very possible for your transmission bands to become broken or worn over time, leading to the transmission slipping. The bands are responsible for connecting your automatic transmission’s gears together. You can overcome this cause by replacing or adjusting the defective band(s).


In Manuals: Grinding Gears When Shifting

If the manual transmission grinds as you shift gears, this usually indicates the clutch is not releasing, the transmission’s shift synchronizer rings are broken or worn, there is an adjustment problem, transmission fluid is low, or the shifter is worn.


In Manuals: Clutch Pedal Grabbing High or Low

Your clutch pedal engaging extremely high or low in your manual can also be transmission-related. Grabbing high may be due to worn pressure plates, worn clutch discs, or adjustments. Grabbing low is usually due to the hydraulic or linkage system experiencing problems.


Can You Drive with a Transmission Slipping?

Can You Drive with a Transmission Slipping?

It is not smart or safe to drive with a slipping transmission. Similarly, you should not drive the car at any point that the transmission does not work properly; this could lead to the auto unexpectedly changing gears as you drive. You would also likely notice acceleration problems.


Transmission Slipping Fix – How to Fix a Slipping Transmission

In the case of transmission slipping due to minor problems, such as low fluid levels, ineffective or burnt fluid, or a leak in the transmission, you may be able to fix the problem yourself. Most people should be able to check the fluid themselves and many will feel comfortable changing it as well. You would likely want help from a mechanic to fix a transmission leak.


The fix becomes significantly more complicated with the other causes. If you need to adjust or replace your clutch, adjust or replace the bands, or replace the gears, you are in for a bigger repair. In this case, you will likely need to dismantle the transmission to resolve the issue. It should come as no surprise that this is not something that a novice should take on. As such, you should expect to pay a mechanic to inspect and repair the transmission.


The key here is that the solution will depend on the cause of your slipping transmission.


From Low Fluid Levels

If the problem was due to low fluid levels, check the fluid levels and top them off if necessary. Ideally, you should check the levels at least monthly. This is a very quick-fix slipping transmission solution.


From Worn out or Burnt Fluid

In this case, you need to drain and change the fluid. This is a bit messy and requires some mechanical knowledge, although many home mechanics can do it themselves.


From Fluid Leaks

This type of problem requires finding the source of the leak and fixing it.



Transmission Slipping Prevention – How to Stop Transmission from Slipping

The best way to prevent your transmission from slipping is to stay on top of regular maintenance. At the very least, follow the transmission maintenance outlined in your owner’s manual. Ideally, you should regularly check your transmission fluid. You may also want to make sure that you flush it and install a new filter every 30,000 miles, although the recommended interval for this maintenance depends on your auto.


Are Repairs the Only Option? Consider Selling Your Car

Depending on the severity of your transmission slipping problems and their causes, you may find that it is impractical to make the necessary repairs. Sometimes, they will be very expensive, especially if the transmission needs to be disassembled and assessed. In this case, you may have to deal with a situation where:


  • You cannot afford the repairs
  • Your vehicle is worth less than the cost of repairs
  • You do not want to pay that much for repairs on an aging car
  • You do not want to pay that much for repairs on a car you were planning to replace


No matter the reasons that you do not want to proceed with repairs on your car, there are still other options available. The best choice in this scenario will likely be to sell your car.


You could try to find a private buyer who wants to buy your car with its transmission slipping, but they would likely want a discount for the price of the expected repairs. This would go against the point of selling the car instead of making the repairs in the first place.


You could also try junking the car and bringing it to a scrapyard. However, these junk yards are notorious for giving poor prices and only valuing the car based on the weight of the metal, regardless of how many functional and reusable components it has. You would also have to get the car to the scrap yard.


We Will Buy Your Car – Even with a Transmission Slipping

What is Stalling a Car? – It’s a Good Time to Sell it to CashCarsbuyers

The easiest option will likely be to sell us your car. We buy cars in any condition, even with slipping transmissions. We always offer a fair price for your car and are up front with the quotes. Once you agree to our offer, we will come pick up your vehicle quickly; this way, you do not have to keep storing a useless car in your driveway. Our efficiency also ensures you get the money for your car quickly, giving you the chance to figure out your next mode of transport.


Contact our team or fill out the form for an online quote. We will offer a fair price for your car based on its make, model, year, and condition. Once you accept our offer, we arrange to pick up your auto and give you cash in exchange for it, without hidden fees.

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Transmission Slipping: Causes & DIY

Transmission slipping can be a major issue, especially for automatic cars and less so for manual transmissions. If your car is showing signs of slipping then you need to get it fixed quick. What can start off as a small problem can easily turn into a bigger issue later on that will cost even more money to fix. Slipping does not necessarily mean that your transmission is near failure but it is signalling that maintenance is heavily required. For automatics there can be many different causes while for manuals the problem is often associated with the clutch. Here are the common causes of a slipping transmission and how to fix it yourself.

Although diagnosing for slipping is not always easy, there are a few common signs that you should look for. Signs of slipping can appear in a number of forms when you are driving. Signs include a high RPM (over 3,500), delays in acceleration, inability to reverse, unusual or burnt smells, the check engine light going off, difficulty shifting gears, shifting gears produces a harsh response, or any strange noises. If you experience any of these symptoms then your car is likely showing signs of slipping. There are a handful of possible causes for this and if you can find the exact reason soon then you have a chance of fixing it without further damage to the transmission.

Common causes of transmission slipping:

  • Low fluid levels – The most common cause for slipping is low fluid levels. Low fluid levels can create a number of problems, such as overheating and not enough hydraulic pressure being produced to engage gears. The best way to find out whether you have low fluid levels is to check the fluid, which you can read below. If this is the case then you will have to add more fluid in order for the gears to engage properly, although low fluid levels could also indicate a transmission fluid leak.
  • Burnt or ineffective fluid – Burnt fluid can be distinguished by the smell of burnt toast or a color that is black. Burnt fluid occurs because of overheating, which means you will have to change the transmission fluid quickly or have it looked at by a specialist in order to diagnose for further damage. Ineffective fluid is similar to burnt fluid in that it has lost its effectiveness, but this is often because of too many contaminants or just from normal wear and tear. Though this doesn’t always mean transmission problems, a fluid change should be performed in order to stop slippage. Both burnt and ineffective fluid can be tested by checking the fluid.
  • Transmission fluid leak – If you experience low fluid levels, this could indicate a transmission fluid leak and transmission slipping is likely to occur. A leak can occur anywhere though, such as a leak in the pan, ruptured fluid lines, a worn pan gasket, a crack in the torque converter, or faulty seals. Continuing to run your car with a leak can cause serious internal damage and you need to seal it up quick. Check underneath your car and on your driveway for any signs of leaks. Seal leaks can be eliminated with special friction modifier additives.
  • Worn or broken transmission bands – Sometimes transmission bands can become worn or broken, which can cause transmission slipping not to mention engine troubles or worn gears. Bands are what links the gears in the automatic transmission together, so they can’t be overlooked. To remedy this problem you simply need the defective band replaced or adjusted, although Lucas Transmission Fix helps to renew worn transmission bands.
  • Clutch problems – Automatic and manual transmissions both make use of clutches. Automatics have clutch plates throughout the transmission and in the torque converter that may become worn or burnt from inadequate transmission fluid. You will have to get these replaced ASAP and change the fluid. For manual transmissions, clutch problems are the most common causes for transmission slipping, which is the culprit 90% of the time (the other 10% being leaks). Worn out clutches that have become too thin occur the most, while clutch failures and bad clutch adjustments are rare but do happen. Normally a clutch disc will last anywhere from 20k to 200k miles, so you will have to get worn or burnt ones replaced.
  • transmission slipping gears - transmission repair guyWorn out gearsOver time gears can wear out, due to normal wear and tear or a malfunction of some sort. Worn or frayed gears don’t properly link together which why they need to be replaced.
  • Solenoid problems – The solenoid is an electro-hydraulic valve, and its function is to control the flow of fluid throughout your transmission. Any damage or electronic problems can cause the wrong amounts of fluid to be dispersed. If you have already checked for low fluids or leaks, the solenoid would be your next suspect. You can check to see if this is the problem by plugging in a scanner to your car’s computer. If the solenoid is the problem you will have to fix or replace it. You can read more about transmission solenoids here.
  • Torque converter issues – Torque converters are what adapts the engine’s power into torque that the transmission can use and sometimes they can develop problems. Fluid flows through the torque converter, so if it fails to do that then your transmission will act funny and transmission slipping is often a symptom. This can be harder to repair and will need to be examined by a technician. You can read more about torque converter issues here.

How to Fix Transmission Slipping

You can solve transmission slipping yourself if it’s simply low fluid, burnt or ineffective fluid, or transmission leaks. This will often require you to either check the fluid, change the fluid, or fix the transmission leak, althoughthese procedures don’t require a lot of experience with cars.

On the other hand, problems such replacing or adjusting clutches, replacing or adjusting bands, and replacing gears will require you to dismantle the transmission and know where the parts are. These procedures are complicated to explain and will require experience with cars. If you are a novice with transmissions, it’s best to have them done by an expert. The rest such as solenoid or torque converter problems that are causing transmission slipping are best left for a professional mechanic to fix. But for the simple issues, we will briefly explain the process and you can read the full tutorial later on.

Low fluid levels

What you will need:

  • Specific transmission fluid
  • A funnel

The process:

  1. low fluid levels - transmission repair guyStart the car to warm up the transmission fluid.
  2. Pop the hood up and remove the transmission dipstick.
  3. Make sure that the fluid is in between the two marks on the dipstick, which are usually labelled “Full” and “Add” or something similar.
  4. If the level is below the lower line then you will need to add more of the specific fluid through the transmission reservoir via a funnel. Make sure not to overfill. If the level is significantly low, this could indicate a leak.
  5. Check again for transmission slipping.

For the complete tutorial click here.

Burnt or ineffective fluid

What you will need:

The process:

  1. Check the transmission fluidburnt or dirty transmission fluid for fluid that is either dark brown with particles or black with a burnt smell.
  2. If either are present, elevate the car on jack stands or ramps and warm up your car.
  3. Drain the fluid into a drip pan or container and remove the transmission pan.
  4. Clean the pan and magnet thoroughly.
  5. Replace the filter.
  6. Replace the gasket if it is old and worn and re-attach pan to the transmission.
  7. Add new transmission fluid by measuring the old fluid you drained.
  8. Check again for transmission slipping.

For the complete tutorial click here.

Transmission fluid leak

What you will need:

The process:

  1. Identify the cause of the leak, checking in common areas.
  2. Determine if the leak can be fixed yourself or should be brought to a mechanic.
  3. Gather the supplies and tools you will need.
  4. Drain the fluid into a drip pan or container.
  5. Depending on the problem, resolve it by following procedure.
  6. Replace the gasket if it is old and worn and re-attach pan to the transmission.
  7. Add new transmission fluid by measuring the old fluid you drained.
  8. Check again for leaks and transmission slipping.

For the complete tutorial click here.

How to Prevent Transmission Slipping

To prevent your transmission from ever slipping, you need to regularly maintain your vehicle. This means that you should check the fluid often for any signs of problems, such as leaking, low, dirty, or burnt fluid. Any of these signs can lead to transmission slipping so check the fluid once a month to prevent that. You should also get a transmission fluid with filter change every 30,000 miles or 2 years, whichever comes first. This makes sure that the transmission is always running on fluid at tip top shape.

Remember, low fluid levels, burnt or dirty fluid, and transmission leaks are the most common causes of transmission slipping, so if you make sure that none of these are happening then you can avoid slippage the majority of the time.

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Stop Your Transmission from Slipping

A slipping transmission is enough to make any car owner break out into a cold sweat. Your transmission’s job is to move your vehicle reliably and efficiently – it’s what converts your engine power to motion. If your car seems to ‘”slip” while in gear or shift or another gear without warning, this not only creates a serious safety risk, but it can also mean bad news for your car, as replacing or rebuilding a transmission can be extremely expensive.

But does a slipping transmission mean the end? Is there any way to stop transmission slipping without shelling out for a full hard repair at a dealership or mechanic? While there isn’t a transmission slipping quick fix, not all transmission slipping problems mean your transmission is failing/has failed. Before we can talk about how to stop a transmission from slipping, we should explore the different reasons why your transmission may slip.

We’ll make this quick, don’t worry. 😊

Is Your Transmission Slipping?

Before considering solutions to your transmission slipping problem, you should make sure the problem is actually your transmission slipping. If you have a manual transmission, a slipping transmission is obvious. You will hear a grinding sound when changing gears and the car either won’t go into gear at all or fall out of gear without warning. Often, your first instinct when your manual transmission slips is that you will need to replace the clutch. This certainly could come true, as clutch discs have a limited lifespan and are responsible for slipping transmissions in a standard shift vehicle about nine out of 10 times, but it is not necessarily the reason.

In an automatic transmission, you may notice other signs of a slipping transmission, such as being unable to shift into reverse, struggling to change gears or not being able to upshift at all. Other signs include the ability to upshift but then having the car downshift without warning, an increase in RPMs without a large increase in speed, an illuminated “Check Engine” light or strange sounds or smells while driving.

If you are experiencing some of these problems, a slipping transmission is often the culprit. But why? And if your transmission is slipping, is there anything you can do about it besides replacing the transmission?

Why Do Transmissions Slip?

Although it is possible a slipping transmission means disaster for your car, it doesn’t have to end up that way. Just because a transmission is slipping doesn’t mean the whole mechanism is shot. There are a few explanations worth investigating that may yield a less expensive fix, including:

  • Fluid levels: A fairly likely explanation for your slipping transmission is a problem with your transmission fluid. Your transmission is a hydraulic system. It uses pressure from the transmission fluid to shift your gears. If you are low on transmission fluid, the gears will struggle to shift, and your car may even overheat. The first thing you should do is check your transmission fluid. If it is low, you will want to refill it, but you should also try to figure out why it is low (see below). If the fluid is at the right level but is a very dark reddish or brownish color, it’s probably burnt out. Drain and replace it with fresh transmission fluid.
  • Transmission Bands: Metal bands connect your gears in the transmission. Check to see if one of these bands is broken or worn out. This can happen over time, especially if you run the engine high, particularly if it has ever overheated. If one of your bands is worn out or broken, you will have trouble engaging the gear connected to that particular band.

How to Prevent Transmission Slips

If your transmission problem isn’t due to worn out bands or fluid leaks, then you either need to replace the clutch, the worn out gears, the solenoids or the torque converter. Any of these is a costly repair which is best performed by a mechanic with little you can do about it. If you have an older car, it may not even be worth the repair. This makes it all the more important for you to check out other possibilities first.

It’s possible the car’s onboard diagnostic computer will tell you what the problem is if you have a newer car. This is especially true if you have a solenoid problem. If you do have a newer car and are getting error codes, be sure to check them first to see what they tell you about the status of your transmission.

If you’re still not sure what the problem is, examine those transmission bands. If any of them look significantly worn or broken, replace them. If you are replacing one, you should replace all of them to ensure you are not dealing with this same problem again in a few months.

Next, get under the hood and check to see if your transmission fluid is at the right level. If you do find your fluid level is lower than normal, you will want to locate the source of the leak. If you have a loose seal, a hole in one of your fluid lines, a leak in the transmission pan or a faulty transmission pan gasket, you can probably repair it yourself by fixing or replacing the faulty part. If you’re looking at something such as a cracked torque converter, it’s time to bring the professionals in.

Once you identify the source of the leak and repair it, you can stop the problem from happening again by adding transmission leak sealing solution when you refill the transmission fluid.

Choose Rislone to Prevent Transmission Slipping

Here’s where we come in, and we’ve helped hundreds of thousands of drivers with who are dealing with a slipping transmission.

Our bestselling product for stopping transmission fluid leaks and helping to prevent transmission slipping is Rislone Transmission Stop Slip with Leak Repair. This product is designed to eliminate slipping, fix hard shifting and stop leaking and fluid loss. It’s easy to use, and has been used by consumers and even some mechanics when their customer does not have the funds to do a full transmission rebuild. It’s a great product with a long track record of success.

To find a distributor of Rislone Transmission Stop Slip With Leak Repair or other vehicle protection products near you, contact us now. We’re happy to help. If you are looking for Rislone products in a store near you, check out our store locator. Easy!



Does Lucas Transmission Stop Slip Work???? Full Review on this Quick Fix

FAQs About a Slipping Transmission

You have the questions, The Drive has the answers!

Q. What Does a Slipping Transmission Feel Like?

A. A slipping transmission is easy to recognize if you know what you’re looking for. Symptoms of a slipping transmission include sudden losses of power, jerkiness, hesitant upshifting, and high revving.

Q. Can You Drive A Car With A Slipping Transmission?

A. Technically, yes, the car will run with a slipping transmission (until it goes bunk), but we advise immediately driving home to your garage or to a shop where you can diagnose the issues. The longer you drive with a slipping transmission, the higher likelihood you will damage its internal components.

Q. How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Slipping Transmission? 

A. If a fluid change or refresh resolves your issues, the bill stops at the cost of the fluid. However, if your transmission is slipping because of damaged parts, you’ll be out thousands of dollars for a transmission rebuild or replacement.

Q. Can a Transmission Flush Fix Slipping?

A. Yes, your fluid might be the issue, whether it’s contaminated, too high, or too low. However, a flush is typically done with a professional machine at a shop, so it’s not an easy home garage job.

Featured Products 

Red Line API GL-4 Manual Transmission and Transaxle Lubricant, 1 Quart

ACDelco Professional Dexron Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid, 1 Quart

Castrol Transmax Dex/Merc Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid, 1 Gallon

Got a question? Got a pro tip? Send us a note: [email protected]


Quick slipping fix transmission

Tips to Stop an Automatic Transmission From Slipping

Slipping occurs when you are accelerating and your engine is producing the power to go faster, but your vehicle does not shift promptly. The RPM gauge on your vehicle will read unusually high, but your vehicle may feel as if it is struggling to accelerate or is stuck at one speed for a moment, before the vehicle shifts. When an automatic transmission begins slipping, it is normally a sign of a problem within the transmission. There are several things you can do that may help if your vehicle's transmission has started slipping.

Error Codes

The transmission control module stores error codes for your transmission just as the vehicle's computer stores engine error codes. If your transmission is slipping, it is a good idea to take your vehicle to a transmission shop and have these codes scanned in order to determine what exact problem is causing the transmission to slip and have it repaired.

Transmission Fluids

A transmission that is low on fluid may slip or fail to shift promptly. Transmission fluid provides lubrication and hydraulic pressure for the transmission, so if the fluid is low or too old, you may experience shifting problems. Old transmission fluid is an issue because it does not provide the same amount of lubrication as new fluid. To prevent slipping and other shifting problems, you should service your transmission and change the fluid in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations for your specific car or truck.

Transmission Additives

There are a number of transmission additives on the market that claim to be able to prevent and stop transmission slipping and other related problems. These products may be able to prolong the life of your transmission or provide a quick fix for problems. However, you should discuss use of any specific products with your transmission specialist before you add them to your vehicle's transmission fluid.


Writer Bio

Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.

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How to Fix a Slipping Transmission in Your Car

In This Guide

A transmission stays in a designated gear until a shift is performed by the driver (manual) or the computer (automatic). If yours is spontaneously slipping in and out of gear (or simply popping into neutral) while driving, I don’t need to tell you that this is a serious safety risk. When you step on the gas to take a turn or pass a car, you need power delivered to the wheels, end of story.

Need a replacement transmission? Get an estimate for replacement transmissions and local installation. Look up your transmission model by vehicle make and model.

What Transmission Do I Have?

picSlipping doesn’t necessarily mean that your transmission is about to fail, but it is a signal that you should get it looked at by a repair shop. The clutch is most often the source of the problem for manual transmissions, while there are many different causes for automatics.

If your car is showing one or more of the symptoms of slipping listed below, you should get it look at as soon as possible. Driving with a slipping transmission is not recommended. In addition to being unsafe, continuing to drive can turn what might currently be a small, easy to fix problem into a much bigger issue (or even transmission failure) that will cost significantly more to fix.

In this guide, we’re going to look at several factors can cause a transmission to slip, the symptoms to watch for and what you can do to solve the problem.

What Transmission Do I Have?


Symptoms to Watch for

Slipping occurs when the transmission tries to change gear, causing it either fall back into the gear that it was previously in, or drop into neutral. Diagnosing the issue can be challenging, but here are the common signs to look for:

Automatic Transmission

  • Check Engine Light is on
  • Transmission tries to upshift, then falls back into a lower gear
  • Transmission refuses to upshift
  • Transmission falls into a lower gear, causing the engine to run at a high RPM
  • You step on the gas, engine RPMs increase, but the vehicle speed doesn’t
  • Reverse won’t engage
  • Strange or burning smell
  • Unusual noises when shifting
  • Hard/rough gear changes

Manual Transmission

  • Transmission won’t go into gear
  • Transmission inexplicably falls out of gear
  • Unusual noises (like grinding) during gear change

8 Common Causes of Transmission Slipping

There are a number of possible causes, but if you can find and fix the source of the problem quickly, you can prevent it from doing further damage to the transmission.

1) Low Fluid Level

An automatic transmission relies on hydraulic pressure provided by transmission fluid to perform gear changes. If there isn’t enough fluid in the system, the transmission pump won’t be able to create enough pressure to engage the next gear. Low fluid levels may indicate a leak and can lead to overheating, and significant internal damage.

What to do: Check the Fluid Level

2) Transmission Fluid Leak

As we just explained, an automatic transmission requires hydraulic pressure to change gears. If yours is leaking, chances are there isn’t enough fluid to shift gears without difficulty.

Sometimes, the problem can be as simple as a bad transmission pan gasket, but it can also be faulty seals, ruptured fluid lines, a leak in the pan or a crack in the torque converter.


Check the fluid level and look at the underside of your car around the pan and on your drive for any sign of a leak.

What to do:Seal Leaks With Lucas Fluid

3) Burnt/Worn Out Fluid

Over time, the composition of fluid breaks down, causing it to become thinner, darker and full of contaminants. If it is too thin or burnt it will be ineffective at removing heat from the transmission and won’t be able to keep the bands and clutches properly cooled. This will cause it to overheat, preventing it from shifting gears in a normal manner.


What to do:Change the Fluid

4) Broken or Worn Out Transmission Bands

In an automatic vehicle, metal bands are used to link the gears together. If one of these transmission bands is worn or broken (often caused by overheating), that particular gear won’t be able to engage properly, causing it to ‘slip’.

What to do: Replace or adjust the band(s)

5) Clutch Problems

Manual Transmission

The clutch is the cause of slipping in manual transmissions 90% of the time (the other 10% can be attributed to leaks). A clutch disc typically lasts from 20,000 to 200,000 miles depending on your driving habits.

The clutch uses friction material (like a brake pad) to grab onto the engine flywheel and basically separate the engine from the transmission during a gear change. If the friction material or throw-out bearing (the metal bit that moves the clutch when you step on the pedal) is worn, you won’t be able to fully engage the clutch and shift gears.

What to do: Replace the clutch

Automatic Transmission

An automatic vehicle uses clutch plates inside both the transmission and the torque converter to engage the various gears. If the friction material on the plates is burnt or wears down, it might not be able to go into gear or smoothly shift gears and it may slip out of gear too.

What to do: Change the fluid and replace plates

6) Worn Out Gears

Worn gears can be caused by normal wear and tear (high mileage), ineffective fluid and overheating. Worn out gears don’t work together properly, and this can cause harsh gear engagement, slipping out of gear, failure to engage a gear, and lots of grinding and clunking.

What to do: Replace gear(s) or entire transmission

7) Solenoid Issue

Solenoids are tiny electrically activated valves that control the flow of fluid inside of a transmission. Controlling the hydraulic pressure is essential to actuating a gear change, so a faulty transmission solenoid can cause many problems, such as delayed shifts and failure to shift/engage a gear. If you’ve already checked the fluid level, then the solenoids should be your suspect. Use an OBD2 scanner to check for trouble codes and narrow down which solenoid is needs to be replaced.

What to do:Check & replace the solenoids

8) Torque Converter Issue

A torque converter is a hydraulic circuit that transfers engine power to the transmission through hydraulic pressure. If it is damaged, there won’t be enough pressure to operate the valve body and change/engage gears. A bad torque converter can also cause the engine to stall or slip out of the overdrive gear.

What to do: Check & replace the torque converter

How to Fix Transmission Slipping

If the slipping is being caused by ineffective fluid or low fluid level due to a leak, then you may be able to fix the problem yourself by checking and changing the fluid or by repairing/plugging the leak.

Fixing more serious problems such as worn or broken bands, clutches and gears require removing and taking apart the transmission. These procedures should only be attempted by those with significant auto repair experience.

Torque converter and solenoid replacements should be left to professionals.

Low Fluid Level – Check and Top-Off

transmission-fluid-level-largeOne of the easiest ways to prevent problems is to regularly monitor your fluid level. Once a month (every two weeks if you drive a lot), open the hood, locate the transmission dipstick, and check the ATF level. Always do this with the engine running, because the internal pump has to be running in order to get an accurate reading.

If the fluid appears dark, unusually thin, dirty, or has a burnt smell, have it changed immediately. If the it is below the optimum level indicated on the dipstick, add more fluid immediately to prevent further damage.

There are several different types of ATF, so check your owner’s manual to ensure that you get the correct type of fluid (using the wrong kind of fluid can actually cause serious damage). Typically, you add fluid to an automatic transmission by placing a funnel into the dipstick tube. If you’re unsure, refer to your owner’s manual.

Click here for a complete tutorial

Burnt or Worn Out Fluid – Drain & Refill

If your automatic transmission fluid needs to be changed, you can either do it yourself, or have a repair shop do it for you. It can be a messy job, and it does require a bit of mechanical experience to do properly.

You can get step-by-step instructions in a Haynes-type shop manual which are available at your local auto parts store, but the process goes like this:

  1. Jack the vehicle up and unbolt the pan. The ATF will drain as you do this, so place a catch pan and a tarp underneath it
  2. Remove and replace the filter
  3. Scrape off the old transmission pan gasket and replace
  4. Bolt-on the pan and fill with ATF
  5. Start the vehicle and check for leaks
  6. Use copious amounts of kitty litter to cleanup the mess that you’ve just made

Click here for a complete tutorial

Fluid Leak – Replace Part(s) or Take it to a Shop

If your transmission is leaking fluid, you need to find the source. Experienced DIY-ers can usually research the vehicle-specific symptoms, replace the offending parts and fix the problem.

If you’re not comfortable fixing the problem yourself, find a repair shop immediately. Otherwise, that little transmission leak could wind up creating a much bigger, more costly problem.

If All Else Fails

If none of the solutions above work, then it’s time to replace your transmission (you can use the guide below for pricing) or take your car to a trusted transmission repair shop

Fair Remanufactured Transmission Cost by Vehicle

  1. Use the Year / Make / Model lookup tool above to determine what transmission your vehicle has.
  2. Find your transmission model in the table below for fair prices from reputable suppliers and fair labor for local installation at an auto repair shop.
  3. Get a quote on a remanufactured transmission by email.

How to Prevent Slipping

Many transmission problems are easily preventable by following routine checks and maintenance procedures. Worn out fluid is usually the root cause of a slipping transmission, so have your fluid and filter changed every 30,000 to 50,000 miles or every two years – whichever comes first. In addition, check the fluid quality and level often to make sure it will keep things cool and perform gear changes effectively.

What to Read Next

How to Check Transmission Fluid
How to Change Transmission Fluid
10 Most Common Transmission Problems
Find a Transmission Shop

Need a replacement transmission? Get an estimate for replacement transmissions and local installation. Look up your transmission model by vehicle make and model.

What Transmission Do I Have?

Over to You

We’re interested to know – is your transmission slipping? What other symptoms have you noticed? Let us know by leaving a comment below!


Now discussing:

How Do You Fix a Slipping Transmission?

By Mister Transmission

Tags: common transmission problems, Slipping Transmission, Transmission Problems, Transmission Repairs

Slipping Transmission

A slipping transmission is one of the most common transmission problems that there is. When you first begin to experience a slipping transmission, it might only be inconvenient, frustrating, and unnerving. But left unrepaired a slipping transmission can be a major and even a dangerous problem. That is why you should bring your vehicle in for a transmission repair as soon as possible after experiencing some transmission slippage. But how does one fix a slipping transmission?


Slipping transmissions

When a transmission slips it means that your car changes its gear –or slips– without you intending to do this. If you’ve never experienced this,  you can probably imagine how troubling and discomfiting this can be. While not necessarily a sign of oncoming major transmission failure, slipping does indicate that your transmission is in serious need of service and repair. To leave it unchecked is to put both your vehicle and yourself, as well as other drivers and pedestrians, in danger.

The causes

With regards to manual transmissions, the cause of slippage is usually associated with the clutch. Both manual and automatic transmissions utilise clutches. For manual transmissions, a clutch problem is the most common culprit for a slipping transmission (in the rare event that it is not a clutch issue, it’s likely due to leakage). Often what you’ll see is a worn out clutch that has become too thin.

Automatic transmissions contain clutch plates throughout the transmission as well as in the torque converter which may become worn or burnt from inadequate transmission fluid. To fix this, you will have to get the clutch plates replaced immediately and also change the fluid.

Low fluid levels are often involved with any problem that involves slipping transmission. Low fluid levels can contribute to a host of various problems, such as overheating and a lack of hydraulic pressure being produced to engage gears. If you suspect you have a low level of transmission fluid, you should check your levels as soon as possible. If so, add more fluid in order for the gears to engage properly, and check underneath your vehicle for any transmission fluid, as leaks can obviously lead to low fluid levels.

Ineffective transmission bands can also contribute to slippage. Transmission bands can become worn and broken, which can cause transmission slipping as well as engine troubles and worn out gears. Bands are what link the gears in the automatic transmission together. To fix this problem you need to replace or adjust the defective band. Transmission slipping can also be affected by worn out gears, solenoid problems, or torque converter issues.

Transmission repairs

We’ve discussed some of the necessary repairs to transmission slipping above, but obviously, the repair needed will vary depending on the cause of the problem. For low fluid levels, you’ll need to add more fluid to repair the problem. For burnt or damaged fluid, you’ll need to drain the exhausted fluid and replace it with new fluid. For a leak, however, at least part of your transmission will need to be resealed to prevent further slipping and transmission problems.

Contact us

For other problems such as ones that concern the torque converter or the solenoid, the required transmission repair can be quite complex and will necessitate special equipment. To learn more about slipping transmission and the required repairs, please do not hesitate to contact us today.


Customer Reviews

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They are great down to earth service and have an excellent work ethic

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I have known Eric and his crew for some time now. As a mechanic, I often come across difficult transmission related issues that get sent to him and resolved quickly and fairly priced. I just had Eric rebuild the transmission in my truck and I couldn’t believe how fairly priced the work was and the transmission shifts perfect now. Wouldn’t recommend anyone else but Eric at Mr.Transmission.

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Mister Transmission staff were very professional and friendly. Answered all our questions and kept us upto date with the process.Jenna is wonderful she is friendly and professional and was able to respond in timely matter . Thank you Jenna your are great employee. I highly recommend them for any one in moncton and surrounding areas. They did an excellent work thank you so much.Ruby

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Jeff was very kind and helped me a great deal. Would recommend to anyone. Diagnosis was not transmission recommended to go for other problem, did not charge me Unbelievable service and trustworthy.

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It is not too often when you find a local business that has over 50 5 star ratings, and when you do, you know that you are at the right place to get what you need, done. that was my experience with Mr. Transmission in Owen Sound . My first point of Contact was Warren who was great to speak with and we arranged a time to bring the car in. Later that week after I dropped off the car I had a chance to speak with the owner Chris. Again. another great guy to speak with and knew I was at the right place. They diagnosed the problem - Told me what it needed- gave me the price - fixed the problem- and in no time at all I was on my way. That is what I call great customer service. if you want to RYDNSTYL you need to visit Mr. Transmission in Owen Sound. Jim

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