Your transmission is a central part of your vehicle's operation, as it is the sole component that allows for the changing of gears in your engine. This means that an improperly operating transmission can have a huge effect on the performance of your vehicle and the ability of your engine to alter its speed. Understanding what some of the most common symptoms of a damaged or worn transmission are can help you determine when you should head to a mechanic for an inspection and repairs.
The first and one of the most common symptoms of a transmission that needs repairs and is unable to properly shift gears is if you notice that there is a significant lag between the time that you place your foot down on the gas pedal and when your vehicle actually speeds up. This is because it takes longer for your transmission to physically put itself in gear, either due to a slipping transmission belt or physical wear on the gears that make it harder for them to engage. In either case, this can reduce the responsiveness of your vehicle to other vehicles around you, and can make a collision much more likely as a result.
Increased RPM and Temperature
Another sign that your transmission is not operating properly is if you notice that your engine RPMs are at an extremely high rate when you accelerate. This is because the gear that your transmission is in is the wrong one for the speed at which you are driving. Spending a long time at extremely high RPM can cause your engine temperature to rise over time, opening yourself up to engine damage which is much more expensive and serious to fix when compared to transmission repair.
Physical damage to your transmission, whether due to age or wear, can cause the transmission fluid -- which provides the pressure to actually change the gears in your engine -- to leak out of the system. You can tell if a leak underneath your vehicle is transmission fluid by looking at its color: simply blot it up with a paper towel or clean rag to determine what shade it is. Transmission fluid has a reddish or orange-brown hue, and its presence on your driveway or underneath your vehicle is a serious concern that you need to have addressed right away, as your engine may simply slip out of gear due to a lack of pressure while driving.