What Causes an Automatic Transmission to Slip?

What Causes an Automatic Transmission to Slip?

26th Aug 2016

Ask any avid "gear head" and he or she will probably agree: manual transmissions typically last longer their automatic counterpart. The only real problem with manual transmissions is that the clutch tends to wear out, forcing the driver to replace it on occasion. Nonetheless, many people still prefer prefer driving vehicles with an automatic transmission, as it's generally easier to operate.

What is a Slipping Transmission

But automatic transmissions don't come without their own problems, one of which is the potential for slipping. This phenomenon is characterized by the transmission slipping in or out of fear while driving. If you up shift from second to third gear, for instance, your transmission could "slip" by knocking it to first or third gear -- or it could even slip into neutral.

Conventional wisdom should tell you that a slipping transmission is a serious hazard, both for the driver as well as other motorists around him or her. If your car's transmission doesn't change into the gear that you are "expecting" it to, you may lose speed; thus, increasing the risk of an accident.

Common Causes of a Slipping Transmission

One of the most common causes of a slipping automatic transmission is low or empty fluid. The torque converter works by transmitting torque from the engine to the transmissions. In other for this to happen, the converter must have adequate fluid. Proper fluid levels are also necessary to generate pressure -- pressure that's used to spin and turn the gears.

You can check your vehicle's transmission fluid levels by looking at the dipstick. Most vehicles have a transmission dipstick -- similar to the engine oil dipstick -- that reveals its fluid levels. Pop your hood and look for the dipstick located on/in the transmission. Carefully pull it out to see whether or not your fluid levels are low.

Low pressure is another possible cause of a slipping automatic transmission. If there's not enough pressure, it won't be able to change gears as intended. Worn pumps can cause a loss of pressure, in which case the pump should either be replaced or rebuilt.

If your transmission filter is plugged, you can remove the pan, drain the fluid, and then replace the filter with a new filter to fix the problem.

These are just a few possible causes of a slipping automatic transmission.