The fear that your car requires transmission service can leave you wondering what to do. You can take the following three steps to determine if your vehicle has a problem at all and if it requires service.
Use Your Senses
Many of the signs of transmission trouble are detectable to your senses. For example, an overheating transmission will give off a burning smell. You can pull the car over to check for other potential sources of burning smells, such as leaking oil or a belt wearing down. If you don't see any of those problems, let the car cool completely and then run it for a bit. If the smell returns, there's a good chance you need to take it to an auto transmission service shop.
Similarly, you might notice some vibrations. You might also notice crunching or clunking sounds when the car shifts. If these signs only happen within a few seconds of the vehicle shifting, there's a good chance the transmission is the source.
Check the Computer
Unless you have a car that's several decades old, your vehicle should have an onboard computer. Whenever the check engine light comes on, that's the computer telling you something is wrong. Many newer cars display engine status codes through the infotainment system. You can then check the codes to see if they indicate something's wrong with the transmission.
If your car doesn't have this feature, you should still be able to access the computer through the OBD-II port. This is a serial port that's usually situated under the steering wheel. You can buy a scanner and plug it into this port, follow the instructions, and see what the computer codes are. If you don't have a scanner, most auto shops and stores offer scanning for free.
Drive the Car Gently
Most transmission problems aren't going to lead to catastrophic failure of the system. The computer system in the vehicle should place it in limp mode, a reduced performance mode that minimizes potential damage so you can at least get the car to a shop.
This is good because transmission failures never seem to happen in convenient spots. If you're on the highway, for example, the important thing is to drive the car as gently as you can while still staying safe. You might note which gear is missing at this point. For example, you might find that second or third gear just isn't there. If this happens, manually put the car in the lowest working gear and keep it there. A modern car is RPM governed to prevent blowing the motor in low gear.
For more information, contact a local business, like Denville Transmission.