Why is My Transmission Slipping?

Feeling your transmission “slip” can be a worrying feeling. Transmissions are some of the most complicated, and subsequently expensive, parts of your vehicle. There’s a wide variety of causes for a slipping transmission, so it’s important for owners to understand what a slip is, why it happens, and how to address it going forward.

Automatic transmission gear selector

What is a Transmission Slip?

A transmission slipping usually occurs right after shifting gears. The vehicle will shift into that gear, but then almost immediately slip into neutral or another gear. Say for example you shift from reverse to drive after backing out of a spot, the transmission might then slip into neutral. While most slips are just a nuisance, some can leave the driver in dangerous situations. If your vehicle is slipping out of hears, you should bring your vehicle to a trusted professional for diagnosis as soon as you can.

In some vehicles, a slip might not be immediately obvious and instead made itself known through various symptoms. Some symptoms of a slipping transmission include:

  • Grinding or whining noises 
  • Inability to shift into reverse
  • Jerking or rough shifts
  • Burning smell coming from vehicle
  • Acceleration is sluggish or delayed

Can I Safely Drive With a Slipping Transmission?

While most times a slipping transmission will be more annoying than dangerous, not being in control of your vehicle’s transmission can land you in some very unsafe situations. If your transmission slips at the right time, it can leave you without power. 

Transmission slipping is also a sign of a transmission with serious issues, which means that driving without having it serviced might leave you stranded on the freeway and a subsequent huge repair bill.

What Causes Transmission Slipping?

Low or Worn Out Transmission Fluid

Not only is low or dirty/burned transmission fluid probably the most common cause of transmission issues, but it’s also one of the easiest fixes. Over time, transmission fluid will wear down, become dirty, and even become burned. In many cases, the transmission may have leaks that allow fluid to wake its way out and deplete the fluid level. 

Without the proper amount of fluid, or with fluid that has been run well beyond its prime, transmissions can begin to experience certain symptoms. One of these symptoms is slipping gears, as the transmission fluid is unable to carry out its job properly. Replacing transmission fluid is generally inexpensive, and should be one of the first things looked at when experiencing transmission issues. 

Broken/Worn Transmission Bands

In automatic transmissions, metal transmission bands wrap around sections of the gear train and allow them to “link” together. When these bands wear down or break, they’re unable to engage. Because of this, the transmission won’t be able to shift properly and can lead to slips.

Bad Clutch

A large portion of slips in manual transmission vehicles can be attributed to clutch issues. When a clutch wears down, it isn’t able to create enough friction to engage with the engine flywheel. This means that the transmission won’t be able to properly shift gears, and this can lead to transmission slips. 

Solenoid Issues

Solenoids are small electric valves that control the movement and flow of fluid inside of a transmission. Without the ability to properly control the hydraulic pressure, the transmission will run into various issues, including gears slipping. A faulty solenoid will often trigger a check engine light, which can help you narrow down which solenoid needs to be replaced. 

Transmission Service at Orion Automotive

If you’re experiencing a slipping transmission or any similar transmission symptoms, don’t let it linger! Transmission issues can lead to expensive repairs if not services and should be inspected immediately. 

Orion Automotive in Ann Arbor is your premier destination for transmission services! Our expert technicians will inspect and repair your transmission with top-notch quality, so you can get back to enjoying your vehicle! Call or schedule an appointment online today!

Book with our certified technicians today!


Book with our certified technicians today!