It's important for vehicle owners to know the warning signs of pending transmission failure. By recognizing when trouble is brewing, you may have time to get your car into the shop before catastrophic damage results.

Below are some transmission failure warning signs to be aware of as a car owner.

Warning Light

One of the easiest ways to recognize a potential transmission problem is by paying close attention to the dashboard. The vehicle's computer monitors the transmission, and if it senses any unusual readings, the computer will signal the driver by displaying a “check engine” warning light.

The “check engine” light can indicate the presence of one of several possible drivetrain issues, so be sure to take your car to a professional service center for evaluation and diagnosis of your vehicle’s specific problem.

Low Fluid Level

Car owners should regularly check transmission fluid levels to ensure they aren't too low. Low fluid levels can lead to serious problems such as the transmission overheating and slipping.

To check transmission fluid levels, remove the fluid dipstick and "read" it in the same way you would an oil dipstick. Consult the owner's manual for your particular vehicle make and model if you need more information on how to perform a measurement.

If you discover the transmission fluid in your vehicle is low, then you should take your vehicle in for servicing. Low fluid levels could indicate the presence of a hidden leak or other problems that require immediate attention. At the very least, the shop will top off the fluid level and make sure your car is safe to drive.

Burning Odor

If you notice a burning smell coming from your vehicle and can't connect it with any other specific cause, such as oil, belts or hoses, then your transmission may be overheating. You can confirm the cause of the smell by checking the color of the fluid on the transmission dipstick. Burnt transmission fluid appears brown, instead of pink or red.

It is important to get your car to a shop as soon as possible if the transmission is overheating. Don't risk causing severe damage by ignoring the problem.

Slipping Gears

A slipping transmission is one where gears unpredictably and repeatedly shift from one to the next. In some cases, a slipping transmission won't shift at all. If your transmission isn't shifting from gear to gear, the problem will manifest itself as high engine revving and sluggish movement.

Another sign that your car's transmission is slipping is the presence of unusual noises and vibration. Stay alerted to sounds of metal-against-metal grinding, and also listen for other noises like clunking or thumping. In addition, take note if the vehicle shakes when it is parked or engaged in drive.

A slipping transmission will need to be addressed by a qualified technician. Delaying repair will only cause the damage to grow worse and may also affect the clutch.

Leaking Transmission Fluid

Worn seals and other flaws can cause transmission fluid to leak. If you spot a telltale red-colored pool of transmission fluid on the ground beneath your vehicle, then your transmission may be close to failure.

That’s why you should seek the service of a transmissions expert, who can find out what is going on inside your vehicle's transmission and identify the root cause of the leak. The technician will replace failed seals and ensure your transmission is ready to provide you with reliable service and a smooth drive once again.

If you are concerned about your transmission or are experiencing any of the above signs, then don't hesitate to take your car to the professionals at Huntington Beach Transmissions & Auto Repair for expert advice, repair and service.