How Do You Fix A Slipping Transmission?


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One of the most common transmission issues you can have is a slipping transmission. Slipping occurs when the transmission tries to change gear but falls back into the gear it was previously in. Or drops into neutral. Slipping doesn’t necessarily mean that your transmission is about to fail. But it is a sign that it is in serious need of service or repair.  Schedule an appointment as soon as you can with a mechanic who can look into your issue.

Symptoms of A Slipping Transmission

The source of a transmission slip can be caused by various reasons. Diagnosing the issue can be a challenge, but here are some common signs to look for:

Automatic Transmission

  • Transmission tries to upshift, then falls back into a lower gear
  • Transmission refuses to upshift
  • Hard/rough gear changes
  • Unusual noises when shifting
  • Engine RPMs increase when stepping on the gas, but the vehicle speed doesn’t
  • Check Engine Light is on

Manual Transmission

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


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5 Common Causes of Transmission Slipping

There are a number of possible causes of a slipping transmission. Locating the source of the problem quickly will prevent further damage to the transmission.

  • Low Fluid Level

Automatic transmissions rely on hydraulic pressure provided by transmission fluid to change gears. The transmission pump won’t be able to create enough pressure to engage the next gear if there isn’t enough fluid in the system. A leak could be the cause of low fluid levels. This can lead to overheating or internal damage.

  • Fluid Leak

If there isn’t enough transmission fluid in the system to shift the gears without difficulty, there could be a leak. A leak could be due to faulty seals, a leak in the transmission pan, or ruptured fluid lines.

  • Burnt / Worn Out Fluid

Over time, your car’s transmission fluid breaks down causing it to become darker, thinner, and full of contaminants. As it breaks down, it becomes ineffective at removing heat from the transmission. It won’t be able to keep the clutches and bands properly cooled. This will overheat and will prohibit the gears from shifting in a normal manner.

  • Broken or Worn Transmission Bands

Metal bands are used to link the gears together in an automatic vehicle. If a band becomes worn or broken, that gear won’t be able to engage properly. This can cause it to “slip” and is often caused by overheating.

  • Clutch Issues

Manual and automatic transmissions utilize clutches. In manual transmissions, the clutch is the cause of slipping most of the time. The clutch uses friction material, like a brake pad, to grab onto the engine flywheel. This separates the engine from the transmission during a gear change. When this material becomes worn, you won’t be able to fully engage the clutch and shift gears.


Automatic vehicles use clutch plates inside the transmission and torque converter to engage the gears. If the friction material on the plates is burnt, it might not be able to shift gears smoothly and may slip out of gear as well.


How To Fix a Slipping Transmission

Many automatic transmission slipping issues can be fixed by adding more transmission fluid to the system. Draining worn-out fluid and refilling it with fresh transmission fluid can also be a remedy. If the transmission is leaking fluid, you’ll need to find the source. If all else fails, it may be time to replace your transmission.


Old and New Transmission Fluid Comparison | Lou's Car Care Center, Inc.


An auto technician can help you with your transmission troubles. It can be complicated to find transmission fluid levels in modern-day vehicles. Various cars and trucks, including many European makes and models, require scan tools to get fluid readings. Lou’s Car Care has the latest factory scan tools and diagnostic equipment to help diagnose and repair your car’s issues.

Many transmission issues are preventable by following routine checks and maintenance procedures. It is important to have your fluid and filter changed every 30,000 miles. Lou’s Car Care offers a Lifetime BG Protection Plan* on BG Services including Transmission Services for automatic transmissions and CVTs (continuously variable transmissions). Call us for more details!

When it comes to auto repair and transmission services, Lou’s Car Care is the right choice! Servicing the Baldwinsville, NY, and surrounding communities since 1976. Call us or schedule an appointment today!



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*Lifetime BG Protection Plan covers only components serviced by BG products. Call store for details.


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