What Are The Signs Of A Bad Torque Converter?

It is quite confusing for most drivers to clearly differentiate between the symptoms of a bad torque converter and a bad transmission.

Converters are part of the components that make up the automatic transmission systems in a vehicle. Hence, when the converter begins to fail, it can appear like it’s your transmission that’s failing.

But, what are the signs of a bad torque converter? There are quite many of them, but we’d be mentioning the commonest ones experienced by most drivers.

It is important to say that, if you do not attend to a bad or failing torque converter in time, it could result in severe damage to the transmission or engine.

What Are The Signs Of A Bad Torque Converter?

What Are The Signs Of A Bad Torque Converter

When you notice either of these symptoms, it is advisable to drive into a mechanic workshop and have the technicians check your converter and possibly fix the issue immediately.

1. Transmission Fluid Leak

Some drivers take leaks commonly, but that shouldn’t be, especially when the leak is from the transmission area. Transmission fluid is an important liquid needed for the seamless performance of torque converters and the transmission system in general.

If this fluid should leak all out, the converter would stop functioning properly, which could result in overheating and other transmission-related issues. Transmission fluid leak usually occurs when the torque converter seals are damaged due to stress or aging.

2. Shaking/Shuddering

Shuddering is another clear sign that your car’s torque converter has gone bad and needs replacement. If you notice that your car shudders while driving on a smooth, straight road, then it’s time to check the converter.

Shuddering means that your car shakes (makes you feel like you’re driving on a rocky road) even though the road is dead smooth. Typically, shuddering occurs when the lockup clutch is unable to make a smooth transmission to the direct drive.

3. Gear Shifting Difficulties

The moment your gear stops shifting, apparently, it’s obvious that something’s not right. Maybe you’re trying to engage the reverse gear but your gear isn’t shifting.

Or you want to engage the forward gear but it’s not looking possible. Well, the inability of your gear to shift can be linked with a bad torque converter.

Gear problems shouldn’t be taken lightly – urgent action is needed. Ensure to engage the services of a professional mechanic to fix things up.

Don’t try DIY practices for fixing gear-related issues. It is cheaper to fix a bad torque converter than to fix a wrecked transmission, engine, or vehicle.

4. Gear Slipping

When we mentioned gear shifting, we were referring to the inability of your automatic gear to shift from where it was to a new gear.

In contrast, gear slipping means that the gear is shifting but it slips. Basically, in automatics (cars with automatic gear system), gears shift automatically as you accelerate or decelerate.

However, when the converter goes bad, you may notice that your gear slips – let’s say the gear switches too often than normal.

The moment you suspect that your gear switches inconsistently, it could be that your torque converter is faulty and needs attention.

5. Overheating

There are so many factors that can cause engine overheating and a bad converter is one of those factors. Yes, a bad torque converter can cause the transmission to overheat, and subsequently cause the engine to overheat, too.

That said, the moment you see your car’s temperature gauge move to the red side even though you filled the coolant fluid and other necessary fluids, it could be that the overheating is caused by your torque converter.

A bad converter can cause transmission fluid to leak; thus, resulting in overheating.

6. Loss of Acceleration

This is another common sign that your car’s torque converter has gone bad. The moment you find it difficult to run at your usual speed, even after engaging the corresponding gear, it is a sign that something is wrong with your transmission.

And it could be the converter component. Loss of acceleration is one of the common signs of a bad converter.

7. Unusual Sounds

You may hear cracking noise and sounds while you drive with a bad converter. When fluids don’t flow well within the converter, friction would increase and that could be the cause of the unusual sounds you’re hearing.


What are the signs of a bad torque converter? You don’t need to experience all these signs before concluding that your converter has gone bad.

The moment you notice one or two of these signs, it is advisable to act immediately before it turns out into a big problem.

Repairing a torque converter is cheaper than replacing a damaged transmission system or a wrecked engine. When it comes to automobiles, every little (unusual) sign matters. While there are some DIY tricks to fix most torque converter issues, it is best to have a mechanic do the job.