Common Car Gearbox Problems And Why They Occur
Car Maintenance Tips
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Common Car Gearbox Problems And Why They Occur


Your car has a very intriguing process of delivering power from the engine to wheels. Of all the mechanical components participating in that process, the most important one is arguably the car gearbox. While your car can transmit power successfully without the presence of the gearbox, its utility with the rapidly developing automobile technology over the years has made it an indispensable component of the powertrain. The car gearbox accomplishes its duty of transmitting the right amount of power through continuous rotation, grinding and a never-ending battle with friction. With so much at hand, it is inevitable that the gearbox incurs wear and tear and develops some form of malfunction occasionally. So, in this article, we will address some of the common car gearbox problems and understand why they are caused.

common gearbox problems feature

Common Car Gearbox Problems: Lack of Acceleration/Insufficient Throttle Response

The first car gearbox problem we will be addressing on this list concerns the acceleration of the car. At times while driving you will notice a slight delay in the acceleration of the car after shifting gears. But a delay not longer than a second is acceptable in the case of manual transmissions occasionally. This delay could be longer and more frequent in the case of automatic transmissions. However, if the case occurs where the RPM increases after shifting but the car’s speed barely increases, you are looking at an attention-worthy issue.


This problem occurs due to a faulty clutch component which isn’t letting it fully engage or disengage on time. Because of this, the clutch of the car stays active even after the shift is complete and stops/minimizes the transmission of power to the wheels. The primary components causing this problem are either worn out plates, clutch springs or the master cylinder. It could also be caused due to the presence of air in the fluid channel. In case there is air in the system, it can be fixed with simple bleeding of the concerned channel. In the other situations, the affected part will have to be replaced. Sometimes more than one of those parts can be the reason which might require the entire clutch housing to be changed.

common car gearbox problems hard throttle

Also Read: How to Extend Your Car Clutch Life

Common Car Gearbox Problems: Fluid Spilt Under the Car

Your car gearbox like any other rotating mechanical component in the car requires a fluid for lubricating purposes. If you ever happen to notice drops of liquid accumulating under your parked car, there is a good probability that it is transmission fluid. Unlike other liquids that can leak from your car, gearbox or transmission fluid is bright orange in colour. This makes it very easy to identify.


In case it is transmission fluid, it is imperative that you find out the source of the leak and top the fluid ASAP. Transmission fluid isn’t used up in evaporation unlike engine oil and should always be in the ideal level for proper lubrication. Lack of it can cause severe damage to the fast rotating components of the transmission. The source of the leak in most cases is a damaged fluid pan or broken seal. If the leak is detected early, then it will in most cases only require that part to be changed. However, if it’s detected very late, the gearbox components could incur damage which could lead to hefty expenses for repair/replacement.

common car gearbox problems spill

Common Car Gearbox Problems: Car Shaking with Grinding Noise During Gear Shifts

In the ideal situation, your car is always supposed to devoid of any grinding or shaking during operation. If any such sensation is present then there is an issue with some component. In case you observe this grinding noise or sensation during gear shifts accompanied with the car visibly shaking, then you are looking at one of the very common car gearbox problems.


If you are able to observe this grinding sensation after fully pressing the clutch pedal, then there is an 80% possibility that it is due to worn out clutch plates. If it is happening after you have taken your foot off the clutch pedal, the issue is more likely with the gear synchronizers. In both cases, the parts will have to be replaced promptly as the more the grinding, more the damage getting transferred to your gearbox.

Common Car Gearbox Problems: Gears Slipping

Unless your car is an automatic, the gearbox is always supposed to work solely on your actions and your actions only. At times, you will be faced with the situation where you shift a gear, step on the accelerator pedal and the car jerks and falls back into the previous gear. In certain cases, it is also possible that the gear goes into neutral. This phenomenon is known as gear slipping.


Gear slipping harms the gearbox components but above that, it can also put you in a dangerous situation. Imagine the case where you are attempting an overtaking manoeuvre and the gear slips into neutral or a lower gear. God only knows how that situation will end up. Gear slipping occurs due to a variety of factors but most commonly due to a damaged shift fork. A damaged fork doesn’t move properly to lock on to the correct gear which causes the transmission to automatically shift back. Apart from that, it can be caused due to worn out gear teeth or low transmission fluid as well.


common car gearbox problems gear slipping

Common Car Gearbox Problems: Burning Smell

If you’re driving your car and sense any burning smell emanating from it, you’re looking at trouble. In case this smell is accompanied by lazy or improper gear shifts, then there is an almost certain probability that the smell is originating from your car gearbox.


Such a situation most commonly occurs when the transmission fluid overheats. Transmission fluid is used to cool down the heat generated by the rotation and friction of the gearbox components. If the fluid level is too low, the gearbox runs with more friction which in turn generates more heat. This heat loosens the transmission fluid, rendering it useless and causes even more heat build-up. Another major cause is the usage of an inappropriate fluid. Transmission fluids are created to function in heat levels corresponding to the gearbox operation. In case a wrong fluid is used, it won’t perform correctly and result in excessive heat build-up. Both these cases cause severe damage to the car gearbox so be sure to use the correct type of fluid and top it up on time in case the level is low.

common car gearbox problems smell

Common Car Gearbox Problems: Car Doesn’t Slot Into Gear

Like we said previously, the car gearbox is supposed to work solely on your actions. It is possible that sometimes the gearshift lever will simply refuse to budge from the position it is in. In the case of automatic transmissions, this issue will present itself as the gearbox getting stuck in one gear no matter how much throttle you apply.


Non-shifting of the gears can be attributed to several reasons. The primary reason is a dysfunctional clutch linkage. The clutch is used to take the load off the primary shaft leading to the gears such that the shift fork can slot into gear with ease. If the linkage is damaged or the clutch is extravagantly worn out, the load won’t shift and the gear will not slot properly. In automatic transmissions, it is caused mostly due to car’s electronic systems. If some error occurs with the electronic system responsible for the gear shift timing, the gear shifts won’t take place correctly. Needless to say, this will require a visit to the service centre for repair.

common car gearbox problems hard gears