My Transmission Feels Like Its Slipping
If you have ever felt the transmission slipping in your car, it's not a good feeling. You instantly know that something is wrong but unless you're a mechanic, it's hard to tell what. We spoke with the experts at Federico Chrysler of Wood River, a local Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer in Wood River, IL, and they told us how to identify a slipping transmission and explain what usually has to be done to fix it.
Whats it feel like?
When you are driving your car, there is a more or less direct connection from your engine to the wheels. Although you aren't likely thinking about the mechanics of all this, your car definitely has a certain feeling to it when you drive. For example, when you push the accelerator pedal, your car immediately moves forward or backward, depending on the gear you are in.
However, if you have a transmission that is slipping, it won't immediately move. When you apply the gas, you will hear the engine gain speed but the car won't move as quickly in response. It will feel like its "slipping," hence the phrase!
What causes it?
Transmissions can slip for a number of different reasons. There are essentially three types of transmissions in today's cars: manual, automatic, and CVT (continuously variable transmission.)
Manual - A standard ("manual") transmission uses fluid too, but leaks aren't a common issue. If you have a manual and it's slipping, the problem is usually the clutch. A clutch is a special plate coated with a friction material (similar to brake pads) that is situated between your flywheel and pressure plate. Over time, they wear out and you experience the same slipping feeling that an automatic transmission develops.
Automatic - If you have an automatic transmission and it slips while you are driving, the most common cause is low transmission fluid. The fluid in an automatic does more than just keep things lubricated. It is used in "hydraulic circuits" that use valves and pistons to change gears. If the fluid is low, the internal systems won't work well and the transmission may begin to slip. The solution, of course, is to add more transmission fluid.
You can check the level of fluid in your transmission via the transmission dip stick. Locate the dipstick, pull it out and check its level. (There will be marks on the stick that show you how much fluid is present.) If the level is low, add more fluid -just be careful to add the right fluid because not all automatic transmission fluid is the same! The next question usually is: why is my fluid so low? Probably because you have a leak. The cause of the leak is probably a failure of one of the seals that keep the oil inside the transmission. It isn't uncommon.
Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT) – CVTs use a belt or chain to couple two rotating cones together. Depending on the position where the belt or chain is running on the cones determines its gear ratio. If you do feel a slipping feeling in your CVT-equipped car, its usually the chain or belt that has worn down. This usually doesn't happen until your car has very high mileage on it. If you feel slippage, bring your car to a mechanic for diagnosis.