When Those Needed Repairs May Not Be the Car's Transmission

Posted on: 16 May 2017

Problems with your car's transmission are often easy to notice; the car won't change gears or will seem to be stuck in neutral, or the gears will grind when you go from park to drive. While these are common symptoms of needed transmission repair, some problems under the car's hood are actually not due to a failing transmission system. Note a few needed repairs that are often thought to be an issue with the transmission, but may be the fault of other problems with your vehicle, so you know what to expect by way of repair bills.

Won't move out of park

The chains of a transmission system may sometimes get stuck or broken, so that the car won't shift out of park; however, there may also be something faulty in the car's computer, as the computer reads if your foot is on the brake before it will allow the car to shift. The brake pedal itself may also be faulty so that it's not sensing that pressure; if the brakes of the car have been soft, meaning you need to virtually stand on them to get them to work, this can be causing the car to stay in park and the transmission may actually be fine.


Clunking is common when the transmission gears are worn or out of synch, as they will then clunk rather than glide into place. However, clunking can also happen when the bearings of a wheel are worn; these bearings allow the gears connected to the tyres to turn properly. When bearings wear down, the tyres might clunk as they spin. A bent axle or bent tie rods can also cause the car to clunk forward as you drive. If the car moves in and out of gear easily but clunks while you drive, it may need repairs to the steering system and not the transmission.

Burning smell

When transmission fluid gets very old or when it leaks, it usually begins to burn. This smell can also be caused by a number of other factors, including oil that is leaking from the engine and dripping onto a hot manifold, where it then burns. An oil leak can also allow oil into the engine compartment, where it burns away rather than circulates back to the oil pan. The engine's thermostat might also be  broken, so the engine is overheating. While you want to check the transmission when you notice a burning smell, be sure you check these other potential repairs as well.