Common Transmission Problems That all Automatic Transmission Share

Posted by on Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Automatic transmissions are made by many different manufacturers based all over the world and come in any number of different speeds, from 2 speeds all the way up to eight. They perform their job behind everything from a single cylinder engine to twelve cylinder engines and larger. Although the differences between these transmissions can be night and day, they share the same types of problems across the board. Here is a list of a few of them.

Ferrari with Automatic Transmission


1) Low fluid levels and leaks. Automatic transmissions use a special type of oil designed for their needs. Without the fluid, or at least the proper level of fluid, the transmission will not function correctly or at all. In the worst case the transmission could suffer a complete failure. Be sure to check your fluid levels often and look for signs of leaking fluid.

2) Torque Converters.  Almost all automatic transmissions use a torque converter.  The main components are the impeller, turbine, stator and needle bearings. It is the needle bearings that fail more often than any other part of the torque converter. When the needle bearing fails it allows metal to metal contact between other components in the converter. This generates metal chips that are picked up by the transmission fluid and pumped into the rest of the transmission where they damage it to the point of complete failure.

Needle bearing in torque converter


3) Solenoid problems. Although not all automatic transmissions use electrical solenoids, the majority of them produced since the mid 1990’s do. Solenoids are used to move valves in the valve body and are controlled by the cars computer. The computer sends an electrical signal to the solenoid when a predetermined shift point is reached, allowing the transmission to shift. Solenoids are in their most basic form an electrode-mechanical device, with a magnet made from a single long wire wrapped many times to form the magnet. These wires can fail due to heat, too much amperage, corrosion and other reasons.

Solenoid for Automatic Transmission


4) Clutch packs. The automatic transmission is filled with multiple clutch packs. They are stacked with a clutch and a plate, then another clutch and another plate and so on.  There might be 4 or more clutch/ plates in a clutch pack. The clutch disks have a special friction material on them. If the transmission is running low on oil or if excessive heat is introduced to the transmission, the clutch material will fail. Clutch plates have a finite life and are not designed to last forever.

remanufactured transmission repair


5) Maintenance. All automatic transmissions require some maintenance at predetermined intervals. This could involve the changing of the transmission fluid, the replacement of the filter or possible band adjustments.  Failure to performance the proper maintenance on your automatic transmission will almost certainly shorten the life of your transmission.



As we stated earlier all automatic transmissions share the common problems listed above. It doesn’t matter if your vehicle is domestic, or foreign made. Even a Ferrari can develop transmission problems, and it’s no walk in the park when your $200,000 sports car breaks down. That would be the Ferrari World Theme Park in Abu Dhabi we’re talking about. Be vigilant and keep an eye out for potential tell-tale signs of pending problems. Above all don’t forget to have your transmission serviced on a regular basis!

 I highly recommend you replace your customer’s transmission with a re-manufactured transmission. A remanufactured unit will include major alterations and upgrades designed to make them both stronger and more durable. A re-manufactured transmission will also include a much better warranty; three years compared to an average 90 days for a rebuilt transmission. As a bonus, in the rare event that a re-manufactured transmission fails within the warranty period, they will cover your R&R cost to replace your customer’s transmission. And remember, the companies that re-manufacture transmissions are very easy contact. They are just a quick phone call or email away from helping you out.


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.