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Common Car Gearbox Problems and How to Avoid Them

Gearbox Problems

The Most Often Issues in Manual and Auto Transmissions and How Can They Be Prevented?

If you do not fully understand what is a car transmission and how does it work, you are not alone. Not many people understand this concept as it is way too complicated and require certain level of training to get the level of understanding required.

Many of us just turn the ignition on, start the car and put it in the gear and then as far as we are concerned, some sort of witch craft happens and the car starts moving. In reality, there is an intricate and complicated process that involves transmitting the combustion power of the engine to the movement of the wheels. We need to understand the process first and then we can easily understand the common gearbox problems and ways to avoid them.

How Does Transmission Works?

We understand the process of combustion engine and due to this process, power that is produced is converted into reciprocating motion of the pistons. The reciprocating motion is converted into rotary motion of the crankshaft using connecting rods. Crankshaft transmit this motion to the flywheel. As long as clutch is pressed the power from the engine is disconnected from transmission.

Clutch release immediately connects the power to the transmission through gearbox input shaft. A typical automotive gearbox consists of main shaft, layshaft, dog clutch and selector mechanism. Gears are connected both to the main shaft and lay shaft, dog clutches engage with different gears on the main shaft and attain motion accordingly. Different torque or speed variations are obtained by engaging in different gears. Gears are selected by the selector mechanism or gear stick.

So now when we are clear about how it works, let’s see what kind of gear transmissions are there.

Types of Gearboxes

There are three major types of transmissions.

Manual Transmission

With a manual transmission, the driver selects all gears manually using both a movable gear selector and a driver operated clutch. This type of transmission is also known as a stick shift or standard transmission. There are various types of manual transmissions such as dual clutch, unsynchronized, synchronized, automated, single clutch and preselector transmission.

Automatic Transmissions

Automatic Transmission

Automatic transmission may look pretty simple on the surface but its quite complicated underneath the surface. Automatic transmission has an electronic switch that sends an instruction to the software that is responsible to manage the gearbox. Modern vehicles like Mercedes, Audi, Land Rover and BMW gearbox have all these features. This advancement has evolved the gearbox game and now instead of old-style levers we are seeing buttons, paddles or dials to select the gears.

Most Common Gearbox Problems

You always get tell tale signs when your gearbox is facing problems. The most important advice that we can offer is to never delay fixing the problem. As soon as you find the signs, you should find out the fix and get that done because problems with the gearbox tend to get worse with the passage of time, and if ignored can result in requiring to have a full gearbox replacement.

Here are the most common problems that gearboxes or transmissions face.

Noises Coming The Gearbox

The clearest sign that your gearbox is not working properly is when you start hearing noises coming out of transmission. Interesting thing is that different noises mean different problems. You may hear whining, humming, buzzing or grinding noise and with windows up you can hear them loud and clear.

If you hear any noise from the gearbox, you should immediately get it checked. Changing the transmission oil could eliminate minor noises and adding additive can stop any fluid leaks. 

You Cannot Select the Gears with Ease

If you press the clutch and position the gearshift but the transmission of your vehicle does not shift the gear, this is another sign that you need your transmission to be looked at. Problem could be as simple as excessive air in the system and bleeding the air could solve the problem. If the problem persists, check for the leakages in the system.

Slipping Transmission

If you put your gear in transmission and it keeps slipping and getting out of the gear then you should know that your vehicle’s gearbox is facing serious problems. It usually means that something that connects your gears in the transmission is broken.

You can try putting anti slipping additive and see if it stops slipping transmission but do not try this on the road as this could be dangerous. If that trick does not work than take your vehicle for the repair immediately.

Leaking Fluid from Gearbox

It is usually considered good news if the first sign that you notice with your gearbox is the leaking of transmission fluid. You can resolve this problem easily before you run into more serious problems.

There is an easy solution of leaking fluid from the gearbox. You can add the additive to recondition seals and plug up the leaks. That should stop the leakage but if you still experience the leakage after using additive, then you probably need to take your vehicle to the mechanic.

Burning Smell from Transmission

If you are driving for some time and you start smelling burning smell form the gear box while the car is not overheating at all than this indicates a problem with your gearbox. It means that your transmission fluid is overheating and that means parts are not getting lubricated properly and friction is increasing between them.

Always use the best transmission fluid possible and always keep an eye on the level of the fluid. If the fluid is of good quality and is not low than take the vehicle to workshop.

Check Engine Light

Check engine light is a general warning sign that can turn on for various reasons, some relate to the transmission and some don’t. you may have to take it to the workshop and see if the reason is transmission by plugging the diagnostic tool to it. Once you are sure about the fault then you can take the next step accordingly.

Grinding Feeling from the Clutch

If you struggle to shift gears and there is a grinding noise when you do then you have a dragging clutch. Your clutch disk is not able to disengage the flywheel. This is usually an inexpensive repair and you can take it to the workshop to get it fixed.

Tips to Prevent the Gearbox Problems

We can obviously tell you the tips and tricks once you notice problems with your gearbox, but it’s a lot better when you can actually take preventative measures so you do not face those problems at all. Here are few of them.

  • Always us the correct type of fuel recommended for your vehicle.
  • Never Overfill your transmission while adding fluid.
  • Keep an eye on the heating transmission as it could cause serious damage.
  • If you have heating problems then install an auxiliary cooler to keep the heat down.
  • Never overload your vehicle as it makes the transmission work too hard.
  • Give your vehicle ample amount of time to warm up properly.
  • If the vehicle is stuck and wheels keeps spinning then you should avoid rocking the gears.
  • Try not to spin your vehicle wheels except when it is absolute necessary.
  • Always involve a professional when getting the problems looked at.

We cannot guarantee a way to prevent transmission problems altogether. Catching transmission problems early can prevent them from worsening and prevent further problems from developing.

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