5 Signs You Need a Transmission Flush

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Signs You Need a Transmission Flush

Your vehicle’s transmission has many moving parts that it uses to help you maintain control, including shifting gears to deliver different amounts of mechanical energy to the wheels depending on the present speed. Without proper lubrication, those parts will not function as well and can even cause unnecessary wear and tear on your transmission. In addition, it can potentially lead to excessive heat build-up and result in side effects that affect the performance of your car.

If you haven’t had a transmission flush in a while, you should consider doing so to ensure the smooth operation of your vehicle. While manufacturer recommendations differ depending on the make and model of the car, many suggest that you perform this maintenance procedure once every 30,000 miles or every two years, whichever comes first.

Furthermore, you may experience indicators that your transmission could benefit from a transmission flush while operating the automobile. If you notice any of the following signs, you should consult with a professional mechanic to evaluate the situation:

1. Unusual Difficulties During Gear Shifting

If you notice that your car’s performance has changed when shifting gears, this may be a sign that the transmission is clogged with dirt, sludge, or other contaminants. This can happen whether you shift the gears yourself or have an automatic transmission.

You may feel an unexpected delay after the gear shift or find manually shifting gears more difficult. When the change does occur, you may hear the engine rev but not experience any speed increase for a time. In some cases, you may have trouble shifting your car into reverse, and it may not comply at all. At other times, you may find yourself stuck in a specific gear and unable to disengage. Sometimes, your car may not stay entirely in gear or even slip out of it.

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The moving parts within the transmission need clean lubrication to perform their jobs without a hitch, and if the transmission fluid is low or dirty, it can be the culprit behind performance issues. You likely need a transmission flush to restore regular operation.

2. Peculiar Noises

If you hear unusual sounds while driving, particularly during gear shifts, it may indicate that your transmission fluid is either running low or dirty. While the sounds themselves can vary, they are often described as a grinding sound, indicating that activated parts are rubbing together without proper lubrication. 

If you hear abnormal sounds, you should always take them seriously as they may indicate a severe problem. Regarding the transmission, finding a safe location to stop the vehicle and check your fluid is wise. While the engine is running, locate the transmission, and the appropriate dipstick, which looks similar to your oil dipstick yet is often where the transmission joins the back of the engine.

Remove the dipstick, wipe it clean, then insert it again to get a good reading. When you remove it the second time, you should be able to tell the fluid level and whether it is low. Healthy transmission fluid should appear a reddish color and be see-through. If you discover that yours is brown or black, this is a sign that you need a transmission flush because the fluid is dirty and has begun to oxidize, making it far less effective.

3. Shaking or Surging

While there are several reasons why your car might shake while idling or during acceleration, one is low or contaminated transmission fluid. An added indicator is if your vehicle tends to surge forward unexpectedly while you are driving it, then fall back again. This happens mainly because the parts are grinding together roughly rather than enjoying well-oiled transitions.

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During a transmission flush, mechanics use a high-pressure cleanser to wash out any accumulated dirt or grime once the old is out, then replaces it with fresh fluid. This process ensures that you have enough liquid in place for optimal function and that the transmission itself is free from build-up that might remain during a simple fluid change. Once these parts are allowed to work at full capacity, any shaking or surging should stop.

4. Stalling

As well as performance issues during gear changes, you may find that your vehicle stalls. This can happen at stop signs or red lights or as you attempt to shift gears. The lubrication that comes with well-performing transmission fluid cools the transmission, so when that lubricant is low or clogged, it can overheat. This can lead to a transmission failure which, ultimately, stalls the car.

When investigating the reason for low transmission fluid, always investigate whether there may be a leak. Otherwise, an engine flush can clean out the system and ensure it runs as expected.

Stalling can also result from issues with the fuel or air systems, so to be safe, you should have the automobile evaluated by an expert.

5. The Check-Engine Light

If this warning light engages, it is not necessarily indicative of a significant problem but may result from minor issues within the engine or transmission. In most cases, you do not have to rush to the mechanic, although you should plan to have the situation evaluated before it does lead to greater concerns.

As it can signify a transmission problem, you should check your fluid to see if it is at a sufficient level and whether it is still a healthy translucent red. Remember, brown or black are indicators that you should have your engine flushed to clear out grime and replace the old with new, effective fluid.

Remember, even if you discover that your transmission could use good flushing, there may be other underlying causes of the check engine light. For best results, consult with a mechanic to identify other potential problems.

The Bottom Line

While a transmission fluid change can improve its performance, any accumulated gunk within this critical component of your car will remain to interfere with how its many parts function during operation. Only a flush will clean out any remnants of the old fluid and ensure that your transmission is at peak efficiency.

Suppose you notice any unusual behavior or peculiar grinding sounds during gear shifts, or your vehicle shakes, stalls, or inexplicably surges during use. In that case, you should investigate your transmission fluid as a potential culprit and consider having a transmission flush at advanced transmission to solve as a possible solution to your problems.

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