Without a functioning gearbox, you may find yourself breaking down in the middle of a busy road.

That’s why it’s so important that you learn to recognise the signs of a failing gearbox, so that you can put a stop to problems early on. 

We can’t all be car experts, and many of us have never even experienced an issue in the past. So, if  you are new to understanding gearbox problems, then this article is for you. Read on and learn some of the main gearbox warning signs to look out for, so that you can prepare yourself for any situation. 


Look For Leaking Liquids

For drivers of both automatic and manual cars, a sticky gearbox can make changing gears a challenge. In an automatic car, this can be a sign that transmission fluid is leaking from your vehicle - you should check underneath and see if there is any noticeable red, brown, or black fluid.

In a manual car, trouble when changing gears can signal that your oil levels are low, in which case you need to get your car to a garage as soon as possible to avoid an unexpected breakdown.

Likewise, loss of automatic transmission fluid (ATF) is a cause for concern, as this could suggest that the transmission is failing. You will need to book in and have your car checked by a mechanic - if the red transmission fluid has turned brown or black, then you will most likely need to have your gearbox repaired. 


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Notice Difficulty Changing Gears

On a similar note, if you are finding it difficult to change gears, then you most likely have a gearbox issue. This can be the result of a hydraulic, mechanical, or electrical fault with the gearbox.

In an automatic car, this can look like staying in low gear for longer. In a manual car, there may be an increase in revs - though acceleration may in fact be slower - and it may take longer to to change between gears.

Difficulty when changing gears can be caused by low transmission fluid, faulty sensors, blocked filters, and failing solenoid. You may also experience gear slippage if your automatic transmission or manual gearbox are failing, and this can put you and other drivers in danger, as you will have less control over your vehicle.

You should definitely have your car checked out by a mechanic if this is happening to you. 


Take Note of Warning Lights

The warning lights on your dashboard are there for a reason - to warn you when something isn’t working as it should. It will be the check engine light on the dashboard that can alert you to having a faulty gearbox.

If this light is illuminated, then you may need to check that your transmission, oil and coolant are all at the appropriate level.

Otherwise, you may need to have your car looked at by a garage, to make sure there isn’t a bigger issue at play. Use this light as a guide, and you can stop problems from evolving and requiring potentially costly repairs. 


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Listen Out For New Sounds

When it comes to your car, it is always worth paying attention to subtle changes - like a new, strange noise that appears out of nowhere. If you notice a rumbling sound emanating from your gearbox whilst in neutral, this would suggest that your transmission fluid needs to be replaced. This can suggest that your car is experiencing other issues, too, so you will need to have the vehicle checked out by a garage.

If you notice a loud noise that happens when you change gears, and are also finding it challenging putting your car in reverse or first gear, then this could mean that your clutch pedal is the issue. The clutch is likely to blame if you are still able to select a gear with the engine turned off. In manual cars, a dragging clutch may mean that the current gear can change unexpectedly, and produce a grinding noise

A whining or howling sound can be a sign that the gear teeth or gear hub bearings have been damaged, perhaps due to lack of lubrication or general wear and tear. Changing the oil regularly can help to avoid corrosion.

Other unusual, clunky noises that sound like banging from the gearbox can indicate that your car may be suffering from a faulty engine, exhaust, or drive shaft.  You will need to have this checked out by a professional mechanic - engine problems can be very expensive to fix if you leave them for long enough. A banging sound can also relate to a loose or broken motor mount. 


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Have a Nose For New Smells

Just like sounds, staying alert when it comes to new smells can be one of the easiest ways of noticing changes in your car’s health.

A gearbox issue can smell like rubber, though this smell could also signal a problem with your transmission - you may notice leaking fluids if this is the case. If this transmission fluid is allowed to burn, then this can explain why the gearbox is not being suitably lubricated. This will in turn lead to heat building up around the gearing cogs. 


Be Aware of New Sensations

If your gearbox is failing, then you may find that you can feel shaking or grinding whilst you are behind the wheel. Engine and transmission mounts are the likely cause of a jerking sensation.

An automatic gearbox may slip or tremble as you attempt to change gears. Meanwhile, a manual gearbox may grind if there is a problem. Likewise, if your car feels like it is shaking whilst in neutral, then your transmission fluid may need to be replaced. 


Should I Have My Gearbox Replaced?

Depending on the age and value of your vehicle, you can have your gearbox replaced if the problem is serious enough. A gearbox repair will cost at least between £300 and £500, and only the faulty component will be fixed during the repair. This could mean that there is still another part in the transmission which may need fixed now or in the future. 

At the end of the day, though, it is always worth staying safe by relying on a professional mechanic. A garage will be able to advise you on the best course of action, and will make your car roadworthy and safe to drive. Any difficulty in changing gear needs to be checked out by a professional mechanic, and many of the issues in this article need to be looked at quickly to avoid expensive repairs, and your car becoming dangerous to drive. 

Book in with an accomplished garage and put an end to gearbox problems today.


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