Top 3 Transmission Overheating Symptoms

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You thought it’s only a car’s engine that is liable to overheat? No. Almost all mechanical components of a vehicle can overheat due to several reasons. The transmission system, which is one of the most important systems in a vehicle, can overheat and cause several damages that could cost over $2,000 to fix.

Learning about the common transmission overheating symptoms can help you mitigate transmission failure by troubleshooting and fixing what is causing the overheating.

This article lists and explains the most common signs a vehicle may exhibit when the transmission system constantly overheats.

What Does The Transmission System Do?

The transmission system of every vehicle connects the drivetrain to the engine to allow switching from one gear to another, either automatically or manually. There are two common types of transmission systems – manual and automatic.

A majority of modern cars are equipped with automatic transmissions, while the drivers can opt-in for manual transmissions if they wish.

The transmission system plays an important role in keeping your car going; if anything should get damaged in the system, your car won’t change gears – the gear lever may become stiff and not move at all, and that’s a pretty serious issue, you know?

Well, car transmission systems are built sturdily; they don’t break down easily; when failing, the system shows you different early signs.

Transmission Overheating Symptoms

Can a transmission overheat? For sure, it can. If the transmission fluid level is low (probably due to a leak in the flow channels), the system will overheat and trigger the following symptoms.

1. Slow Response Time

Well, there are several reasons your car would hesitate to switch gears, but if it happens often, you need to inspect the transmission thoroughly.

An overheating transmission would take more time to respond to your commands. In essence, you’d notice that the transmission slags in moving into the next gear, even after you have tilted the gear lever.

2. Burning Smell While Driving

This usually occurs if the transmission fluid is leaking. If you continually perceive a burning smell, which seems to be coming from beneath your car, then you should check for transmission fluid leaks.

Simply get down from the car, wait a while, then look under the hood and check if you can spot fluid dropping down from the transmission region.

3. Transmission Slipping

Slipping means your car typically goes out of gears intermittently without your consent. For example, your car slips from the “park” position to “neutral,” this usually occurs in vehicles with auto transmission.

Notwithstanding, worn-out gears, faulty clutches, and pretty other anomalies can cause transmission slipping.

What Causes Transmission System To Overheat?

1. Heavy Usage

When you’re pulling a heavy load, it puts more strain on your car’s drivetrain, which can cause not only the transmission system to overheat but also the engine and other mechanical components may overheat too. Heavy-duty usage is one of the primary causes of overheating.

2. Transmission Fluid Issues

A vehicle runs with multiple fluid types to keep the mechanical components functioning as supposed. A leak in the transmission fluid flow channels would result in low fluid levels, which could cause the transmission to overheat because there’s no sufficient fluid to keep it cool.

Similarly, if you haven’t changed your car’s transmission fluid in a long while, that could also be the reason for the overheating. The transmission fluid should be changed at specific intervals, and if you detect any leaky spot, get it fixed as soon as possible.

3. Harsh Climate Conditions

If you live in cities where the temperature levels can get so high, that can contribute to having an overheating transmission. Sadly, if this is the case, the only solution is to always park your car under shades or in garages.

Also, you need to stop at intervals when going long distances to allow the car’s mechanical components to cool down a bit before continuing with your trip.

4. Solenoids and Sensors Failure

There are pretty many sensors and solenoids installed in every vehicle. If one or more of these sensors or solenoids goes bad, it can affect the ECU readings, causing the transmission system to work incoherently, which may result in overheating – in the long run.

You will have to troubleshoot the car to find the exact failed sensor or solenoid.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Drive With an Overheating Transmission?

Yeah. An overheating transmission won’t cause your car to stop running – at least not immediately. You can drive with an overheating transmission all day, but this is not advisable because the overheating system would gradually weaken the components attached to it.

When they finally break down, the repair would be much more expensive. You may be getting a new transmission in the end.

How Do You Fix an Overheating Transmission?

First things first, check for fluid leaks around the region; if you could find leaks, fix the leaky spots as soon as possible. If there are no leaks, check if the transmission fluid is already dirty and due for a change; drain it out and pour in fresh fluid.

These are the two best ways to fix an overheating transmission. However, if these tips don’t fix the situation, take the car to a mechanic for a professional inspection and servicing.

Is It Cheaper To Repair Or Replace A Transmission?

Of course, it’s cheaper to repair than replace a transmission; however, some transmission problems cannot be repaired – even when you attempt to repair them, they’d surface again after a while. Transmission replacement is one of the costliest mechanical work you can do on a car.

How To Cool The Transmission Down Very Fast?

Simply refill the lubricating fluid, and the overheating system will cool down faster. To refill the fluid, park the car in a safe corner, open the hood, remove the oil dipstick, use a funnel, fill in the new lubricant, reinsert the dipstick, and close the hood.


Conclusively, this article has detailed everything you should know about transmission overheating; the symptoms, causes, and how to fix the situation. We hope that this article answers all your questions.

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