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How To Check A Used Car For Transmission Problems Before You Buy It

The first most importantly thing to do is ask the salesperson for the used car history records. By doing this procedure may save you some time and money. If the used car history report shows that the car in fact was a rental vehicle or has been involved in an accident, there is no point to even looking at it any further recommend. Ask the previous owner or salesperson if any repair has been done to the transmission. If the automatic transmission has already been rebuilt, try to avoid buying such a car. By saying that...not suggesting that all rebuilt transmissions will have problems but in some cases they work even better than before. The problem is that not all transmission shops can do equally the same high quality job. And since there is no way to verify if it was rebuilt properly or not, it's better not to take chances. Another thing to be concern about is, ask if the used car you are looking to buy was not used for any towing purposes. Many vehicles that have a towed history like an example towing a trailer. Have much greater risk of having a worn out transmission because of the use for towing that can put a sustainable amount of strain on the transmission over time.

How To Check An Automatic Transmission

You should first get started by checking the transmission fluid level and condition.
With the engine idling, transmission in "Park" (some cars may have different procedures, refer to owner's manual if needed) remove the automatic transmission dipstick and wipe it off with a clean cloth. Then insert it back in and pull it out again. Check the fluid level, low level may indicate a transmission leak. Pay close attention at the fluid very closely. It helps to drip the fluid on a white paper towel to be able to see fluid condition. The fluid on the paper towel should be clean and transparent, without any metal filings or black flakes. New fluid usually comes out red. Over the time in use it become more of a brownish of color, but it shouldn't be black.
Try to smell the fluid. It should not have a burnt smell.
It may seem to be difficult to tell at first, but after you check a few similar cars, you'll be able to pin point the difference with ease.
If you discover that the transmission fluid is too dirty or black, or smells burnt, avoid buying such a car.
Keep in mind, however, that some modern cars simply don't have the transmission dipstick and require special procedures performed in a shop to check the fluid level. In this case, the only way to check it is by doing a test drive.

Automatic Transmission Indications Of Possible Transmission Problems Overview

One of the indications of a transmission problem is delayed engagement, when there is a long delay between the moment you shift the shifter into "D" (Drive) or "R" (Reverse) and the moment the transmission kicks in.
It's easier to note delayed engagement after a car was sitting for a while: With the transmission in "P" (Park) start the engine, and wait until the engine rpm has reduced to normal level (650 - 850 rpm).
With your foot holding down the brake pedal, shift to the "D" (Drive) position. Almost immediately the transmission should engage - it feels like the car wants to creep forward. This should happen very smoothly, without a strong jerk or clunk.
Shift to "N" (Neutral), and the transmission should disengage. Now, still holding the brakes, shift to the "R" (Reverse) position. Again, the transmission kicks in almost immediately - you will feel the car wants to creep backward. This also should be very smooth, without a jerk or clunk.
Now, still holding the brake pedal down, try to shift from D to R and back. There should be no strong jerk or clunk.
If there is a notable long delay (more than 1 seconds) between the moment you shift and the moment the transmission kicks in, such a transmission might be either too worn or has some problem.
If you feel a strong jerk or clunk while shifting, the car may have a transmission problem, avoid such a car.

Now it's time to test drive the car.

With the shifter in "D" (Drive) position drive gently, with smooth and gradual acceleration. Until the vehicle reaches a speed of 30-37 mph (50-60 km/h) or you should feel the gears shifting at least twice (from first to second, and from second to third gear).
All shifts should be done very smoothly, without jerks or slipping.
You should be able to feel when the transmission shifts by the slight change in the engine tone or change in engine rpm. If the transmission is severely worn it may shift with quite a strong jerk, shudder or a delay (especially from first to second gear).
Driving at a speed of 25-30 mph (40-50 km/h) if you press down the accelerator pedal for a few seconds, you should feel downshifting to the lower gear, if the automatic transmission works properly.

The next step: check overdrive.

While driving at 60-70 km/h or 35-45 mph on a level road, without using the accelerator, switch overdrive ON. You should feel an up shifting to the next speed. Switch it to "OFF," and you should feel a downshifting.
Another thing to watch out for that may indicate the transmission has a problem is the slipping. When the transmission is excessively worn it may slip - which means you press the accelerator, the engine rpm increases but the speed remains the same.

While during a test drive you feel any problems such as the transmission seems to be slipping or shifts with a jerk or shudder or if the transmission got stuck in some gear, or has trouble shifting into a particular gear (for example, from second to third), You should avoid buying such a car.
Always try to test drive the car as long as possible. Often the transmission may work well when it's cold but when it's warmed up it starts giving troubles or vice versa. So, it is better to spend more time checking the transmission thoroughly than later repairing it at your expense. Normally there should be no shudder, no noises or any kind of strong jerks at any speed and at any engine temperatures while any shifting is going on. If the salesperson tells you that the jerks or shudder or any other abnormal transmission behavior is "normal" for this car or it's just because the car is cold or anything alike..., don't trust them. If the "check engine" and, or a flashing overdrive light comes on while driving, have the vehicle inspected with a certified mechanic before buying a vehicle.

How To Check An Manual Transmission

You should first check for oil leaks. There should absolutely not be any leaks.

Now, shift the transmission lever into neutral. Apply the parking brake. With the engine idling, press the clutch pedal all the way, hold it down, and listen for noises. Then release the pedal and listen for noises again. There should be no loud noises at either positions.
The next step will be to take the car for a test drive.
Try to drive the vehicle at different speeds in all gears, one by one. Every gear should shift smoothly and easily without any noises or jerks. While driving at the second or third gear, try to press down sharply on the accelerator pedal for an instance. The clutch should not slip.
If you feel any slipping (example like... the engine rpm increases but the speed remains the same), then the clutch most likely has to be replaced.
Try to drive with acceleration and deceleration there should be no grinding, whining or humming noise under any condition circumstances. All the gears should shift easily and noiselessly free. By: CarShopster Article Directory : Now that you know a whole lot more about..., How To Check A Used Car For Transmission Problems Before You Buy It. You may consider shopping at for Used cars, New cars for Sale Online. We have over 5 million Used Cars, New Cars, listings at Local or Nationwide dealerships and automotive resources of cars for sale inventory in your area.