What are the signs of a blown transmission?
Updated 10 Oct 2019
You drop the gearshift in drive and hit the accelerator, but your car doesn’t move.
The engine revs up but you’re going nowhere.
Try as you might, you can’t get your car to go.
Is the transmission blown?
What is a Transmission?
First, it helps to understand what a transmission is and how it works.
For all transmissions, the basic premise is to give control over torque and power that’s transmitted to the drive wheels.
That’s where the name ‘transmission’ comes from, after all.
Different gear ratios let you control the speed and engine RPMs for smoother operation.
In a manual transmission, the clutch disc grips against the engine flywheel, forcing the transmission to rotate internally.
By pressing the clutch pedal, you can disengage the transmission from the flywheel to shift gears.
In an automatic transmission, a combination of fluid pressure and electronics shifts the transmission on your behalf.
All you have to do is put your car in gear and go.
There are internal clutches and gears still, but in a much more complex design.
Next to the engine, the transmission is the most complex component in your car – especially an automatic transmission.
One seemingly small problem will cause a devastating effect inside, and you could find yourself stranded with an immovable car.
What are Signs I’ve Blown My Transmission?
Wondering if your transmission has packed it in? Here are some signs you have transmission problems, or even a blown transmission.
- Your car doesn’t move in Drive or Reverse.
- There’s a large puddle of red transmission fluid under the middle of your car.
- Your car’s RPMs rev up, then it lurches into motion.
- There are transmission-related trouble codes in the computer.
- You can hear a grinding or clunking noise under your car, sometimes felt in the pedals, floor, or gearshift.
Many symptoms aren’t exclusively related to the transmission.
That’s why it’s so important to have a qualified mechanic diagnose and repair your vehicle.
You wouldn’t want to needlessly change a perfectly good transmission, would you?
How Long Should a Transmission Last?
With so many moving parts inside, it’s always possible that something can go wrong.
Often, it’s preventable with routine maintenance – a transmission fluid service according to your owner’s manual.
Properly maintained, a transmission often outlasts the rest of your car.
It’s common for transmissions to last beyond 200,000km, and some reports have transmissions lasting beyond 500,000km!
Can My Transmission Be Repaired?
In a vast number of cases, a blown transmission can be repaired.
Gears, clutches, seals, and any other parts are replaceable internally.
However, if the transmission case is cracked or gouged inside, a repair usually isn’t possible.
A complete replacement transmission will be required.
Transmission Repair Costs
A transmission rebuild is a service that can be done by specialised mechanics with costs starting around $1,500.
However, if there are components inside the case that are damaged badly and need to be replaced, it isn’t always cost effective to perform a rebuild.
Transmission replacement cost depends on your make and model, and ranges from $2,700 to $4,500, and sometimes more!
Not sure whether your transmission needs a rebuild or a repair?
No problem, leave it to the expert mechanics on AutoGuru!
You can easily book yourself in online for an inspection or repair, it only takes a couple of clicks!
Jason is a Canadian automotive content writer with a background in the auto service industry, but he’s been hooked on cars and mechanics since childhood.
One of his first cars was an ’80 Mazda RX-7 that’s sorely missed to this day. A ’68 Ford Torino GT, a ’66 Ford Country Squire Woodie station wagon, and a ’96 Suzuki GSX-R 750 have spent time in his fleet of cars, bikes, and trucks over the past two decades.
Jason’s pride and joy is under construction – a turbocharged ’88 Mazda RX-7 convertible. Also on his resume is CASCAR official certification.