Bad Torque Converter Vs Bad Transmission

Which problem are you currently facing? A bad torque converter or a bad transmission. Car owners often get confused between “bad torque converter vs bad transmission.”

Although the torque converter is part of the transmission system, when it goes bad, you may not need to change the entire transmission system.

Due to the complexity of the modern transmissions used in modern cars, torque converter problems are mostly misinterpreted as symptoms of a failing transmission; thus, making some people see a seemingly inexpensive repair as one that could burn a hole in their pocket.

Here, we have explained the symptoms and differences between a bad torque converter and a bad transmission.

Bad Torque Converter Vs Bad Transmission

On a quick note, a bad torque converter can damage your car’s transmission system if the issue is left unattended for a longer time.

The symptoms of a bad torque converter and how they differentiate from the symptoms of a bad transmission are explained below.

Symptoms of Bad Torque Converter

Bad Torque Converter and Bad Transmission

It is important to say that a torque converter is a typical fluid coupling (A.K.A. hydraulic coupling) that converts and transfers torque (rotating mechanical power) from the engine to the transmission. Thus, it is located between the engine and the transmission system.

Torque converter plays a critical role in making your car move smoothly and function as expected. However, when you notice these symptoms (listed below), then it’s probably time to check on the torque converter – it could be going bad or need serious attention.

1. Overheating

Actually, overheating is caused by many issues, which torque converter failure is one of those possible causes.

When the torque converter is faulty or already damaged, your car’s transmission would be malfunctioning because power won’t seamlessly flow from the engine to the transmission.

2. Slipping

Another obvious symptom of a bad converter is gear slipping. When the torque converter is bad, it could cause the transmission to slip out of gear.

In practicality, this implies that you may switch to a particular gear but your car would automatically switch to neutral. Gear slipping is caused due to irregular flow of fluids into the transmission.

3. Shuddering

When you start noticing that your car shudders as you drive, it could be a symptom of a failing torque converter.

This often happens when the lockup clutch (located inside the converter) is malfunctioning. Shuddering means that you’d notice your car shakes violently even when driving on a smooth road.

>>Read More: Signs Of A Bad Torque Converter

Symptoms of Bad Transmission

Bad Torque Converter Vs Bad Transmission

Having listed the symptoms of a failing or damaged torque converter, it’d be best to also tell the symptoms of a bad transmission.

1. Very Slow Acceleration

Yes, when your car wouldn’t accelerate as fast, as usual, it could be due to a bad transmission. The transmission system is what controls the acceleration/speed of a car.

Sometimes, the transmission could get so bad that your gear won’t shift or change.

2. Fluid Leaks

Leaks occur when some parts of a system become faulty or too old. The moment you notice fluid leaks (oil dropping from the engine bay), it is a sign that your transmission is bad. Leaks can cause overheating and other problems.

3. Cracking Sounds

It is not normal to hear cracking sounds when driving your car. Hence, the moment you begin to hear such sounds, it is a clear sign that your transmission is faulty.

Difference Between Bad Torque Converter And Bad Transmission: Key Takeaways

  • Fixing a bad torque converter is cheaper than fixing a bad transmission
  • Most converter failure symptoms are almost the same as transmission failure symptoms
  • It is advisable to first check for torque failure before resorting to replacing/changing your transmission
  • Act proactively when you start noticing the torque converter failure symptoms mentioned above. This is because delaying to attend to the issue can result in damaging your entire transmission system, which would cost more money to repair or even replace.


In conclusion, we hope that this article has helped to differentiate between torque converter failure and transmission failure. Although the symptoms may be the same, it is best to first check the torque before concluding that your transmission is bad.

Furthermore, keeping up with a maintenance routine may checkmate these possible issues and cause your car to last longer.