6 Signs Your Transmission Fluid is Bad and Needs Changing

Your car’s transmission fluid is a critical part of the system. As it goes about its job of lubricating a vehicle’s transmission, it picks up grit and grime. It also starts to break down as it gets older. Old, dirty transmission fluid doesn’t flow properly, and this puts your transmission at risk. From time to time, you will need to flush the transmission to remove the dirty fluid and add fresh, clean fluid. While you should be checking your vehicle’s transmission fluid regularly, there are clear signs indicative of old, dirty transmission fluid. Here’s what you should be watching for.

  • Dirty transmission fluid
  • Transmission whining noise
  • Gears slipping
  • Can’t go into reverse gear
  • Slipping out of gear
  • Engine running hot
  • Grinding noise

Dirty Transmission Fluid

One of the easiest ways to check the state of your transmission is to check the quality of the fluid. If you have an automatic transmission, pull the dipstick out of the transmission. Check the consistency and wipe off the fluid. Then, re-dip it and check the level again.

Good transmission fluid is clear or pink-tinted. If it’s a deep red or brown color, then it is old and dirty. You need to replace the transmission fluid to avoid any damage to your transmission. Look to see if there are any visible particles as well, as this can also mean you need to change the fluid.

Transmission Whine

Transmissions that whine indicate a problem, but the time when it whines indicates where the problem lies. If the whine happens when your vehicle is in reverse, then it shows a problem with the transmission fluid line. If the line is clogged the fluid can’t flow and your transmission is in danger of serious problems, so address this problem as soon as you notice it. If the transmission whines when you are moving forward, then it indicates a problem with the torque converter, which is a more serious issue

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Gears That Slip

When the transmission fluid is dirty, it can cause a lack of hydraulic power. When the vehicle lacks hydraulic power, the gears can slip. This happens because the transmission does not get enough pressure to stay in gear. The dirty fluid cannot flow through the system properly, and that hurts the pressure in the system. Changing the fluid allows it to flow, and this fixes the problem.

Inability to Move in Reverse

If your car won’t move in reverse, it can be from a number of problems, but dirty transmission fluid is one of them. If the transmission fluid can’t flow because it’s too dirty, the car can’t switch into reverse. Of the problems that can lead to this issue, a transmission fluid flush is one of the easiest.

Engine Is Running Too Hot

You might not think of the transmission as related to your car’s temperature, but it can be. When the transmission fluid is not flowing as it should, it won’t process through the transmission properly. This means it won’t enter the cooling tank and cool. This creates excess heat. Also, the slipping, friction, and increased wear from your transmission add heat. This heat transfers to the rest of your engine, causing it to run hot. If you’ve checked the cooling system and other causes, but find that your engine still runs hot, then it’s time to check the transmission fluid as well.

Grinding Noises from the Transmission

Dirty transmission fluid can cause symptoms similar to low transmission fluid levels, and that includes grinding and other unusual noises. If you are hearing these noises, check both the fluid levels and consistency. Even if the levels are high enough, if the fluid is dirty, it can’t lubricate the parts like it should, causing these unusual and unwanted noises.

Change Your Vehicle’s Dirty Oil

If you’re noticing any of these signs, contact My Transmission Experts for help. Our Houston area transmission team can flush and replace your transmission fluid and inspect the car for other reasons for the problem. Contact us to learn how we can help protect your car from transmission damage caused by low fluid levels.


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