Discussing Automotive Braking Systems

3 Signs Your Car's Automatic Transmission Is Low On Fluid

If you have noticed that your car is acting strangely while shifting gears, you may suspect that there could be a problem with your automatic transmission. If so, look for the following signs that your car's transmission is low on fluid.

Hesitation While Shifting Gears

One of the first things you may notice if your transmission fluid is low is a hesitation whenever your car is trying to shift gears. This sign usually starts becoming noticeable when the fluid's levels are slightly low.

Because the fluid is not fully lubricating the gears inside your transmission, the teeth of the gears may not fully engage with one another whenever you speed up and need to shift into a higher gear. However, since there is still fluid inside the system, the gears will eventually grab onto one another, usually after a second or two.

When this happens, your car will pause and act as though it is hesitating before shifting into the next gear. 

Vehicle Lurches Forward When You Take Off

As the fluid's level starts to decrease, the gears' difficulties in engaging will continue. However, since the lubricating fluid is unable to fully coat the gears, they will strike bear metal when they do finally line up.

When this sudden grabbing of the gears occurs, you will feel your vehicle lurch forward. This lurching will be most noticeable when you start from a dead start in first gear. However, you may feel the uneven shifting even when the transmission is switching into higher gears.

Car Stays in Neutral When You Step on the Gas

When your transmission fluid's level gets dangerously low, you may find that you cannot always take off from a dead start, even when you fully depress the gas pedal. You will most likely hear your engine revving up, but the car will act as though it is in neutral and will not move.

Because there is hardly any fluid to lubricate the gears, they may not turn or engage at all. If your car is acting as though it is stuck in neutral, check the fluid level immediately before attempting to drive. If you try to drive with a critically low level, you could burn up the gears entirely and have to replace the entire transmission.

If you noticed any of the above signs and have checked the fluid level, you may find that it is normal, indicating that you may have another issue causing problems with your transmission. If so, take your car to a transmission shop so they can find the problem and repair it before your transmission goes out completely.