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Diagnose Automatic Transmission Problems Part 5

What you can do to diagnose an automatic transmission problem.
» Engine/Transmission Relations
» Transmission or Transaxle?
» Transmission Testing
» Transmission Leak Tests» Diagnosis By Symptom

Diagnosis By Symptom

I saved this one for last because as a DIY, this is how you will most likely diagnose a problem with your transmission. Probably the most common way to diagnose a transmission is by seeing what it does. Specific symptoms have specific causes and a good transmission man will know what parts are bad by taking the vehicle on a road test. Here is a list of some of the more common symptoms and possible causes, including some that a DIY can handle at home.

Remember that these are general causes for these symptoms and some may not apply to your vehicle. For more detailed information pertaining to your specific vehicle, consult an appropriate repair manual.

I daresay that unless you know your way around the inside of a transmission, some of these terms will be unfamilair to you. It's a good bet that if you don't know what it is, you should take it to a shop.

Clutch Always Applies Or Stalls Vehicle
Delayed Or Soft Forward And Reverse
Delay Or Soft Reverse
Delayed Forward
Engine Will Not Crank
External Fluid Leaks
Fluid Venting Or Foaming
Harsh Forward
Harsh Forward And Reverse
Harsh Reverse
Harsh Shifting Felt
Harsh 1-2 Upshift
Harsh 2-1 Downshift
Harsh 2-3 Upshift
Harsh 3-2 Downshift
Harsh 3-4 Upshift
Harsh 4-3 Downshift
No Clutch Apply
No Engine Braking In Manual 1st Position
No Engine Braking In Manual 2nd Position
No Engine Braking W/Od Canceled In Manual 1st And D
No Forward
No Forward In Drive And No Reverse
No Forward In Overdrive Position And No Reverse
No Manual First Gear
No Manual Second Gear
No Park Range
No Reverse
No 1-2 Upshift
No First Gear In Drive, Engages In High Gear
No 2-1 Downshift
No 2-3 Upshift
No 3-2 Downshift
No 3-4 Upshift
No 4-3 Downshift
Noise Or Vibration In Forward Or Reverse
Poor Vehicle Performance
Shift Feels Soft Or Slipping
Shift Lever Effort High
Shift Timing Erratic Or Hunting
Shift Timing Late Or Early
Slip Or Chatter In Manual 1st Position
Slip Or Chatter In Manual 2nd Position
Soft Or Slipping 1-2 Upshifts
Soft Or Slipping 2-3 Upshifts
Soft Or Slipping 3-2 Downshift
Soft Or Slipping 3-4 Upshifts
Soft Or Slipping 4-3 Downshift
Some Or All Shifting Missing
Transmission Noisy, Other Than Valve Resonance
Transmission Overheating
Wrong Gear Ratio In Drive, Manual 2nd, And Manual 1st

     As you can see from looking at this list there are a number of things that can cause the same problem. Most of them can only be repaired by a shop with the proper tools. This list is to give you an idea what may be wrong with your car so you will be more informed when you have to take your transmission in for repair. Before condemning the transmission because of a problem, I always recommend that the fluid and filter be changed. Not a transmission flush, just the filter and whatever fluid comes out when you drop the pan. This could fix a number of symptoms that may seem like a big problem, but are caused by a clogged transmission filter.

One very important thing is the Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF). Different ATF can change the way a transmission shifts or cause it not to shift at all. Anyone who put anything but Chrysler fluid in a Chrysler transmission will tell you that. Your owners manual will specify what type of transmission fluid you should put in your transmission. If you have any doubts, go to your local Dealers parts department and they will have the proper fluid for your transmission.

The modern automatic transmission is a very sophisticated piece of machinery. For it to do what it does in such a small package and to do it for mile after mile is nothing short of wondrous. But because of its complexity, they require special skills and tools to properly repair or rebuild one.

» Part 1       » Part 2       » Part 3       » Part 4
» Part 5
Additional Information provided courtesy of and Warranty Direct
© 2000-2007 Vincent T. Ciulla

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