4 Signs Your Manual Transmission Is In Distress

Maintaining your car can be overwhelming at times. From oil changes and tire rotations to replacing a damaged windshield or blown headlight, it is easy to see the challenges of maintenance. Repairing or replacing a manual transmission is less expensive compared to an automatic transmission, but it can still cost a few hundred dollars. Because of the cost and possibility of being without a working vehicle, learning the signs that your transmission is in distress is smart. If you are noticing one or more of the following signs, your manual transmission is in distress and in need of some sort of repair.

Shifting Difficulty

If you have driven a car with a manual transmission for a while, you know that shifting gears should be a smooth process. Unfortunately, difficulty shifting from one gear to the next may occur if there is an underlying issue with your transmission.

In some cases, the issue may stem from a bad lever. Over time, the small ball inside the shift assembly may wear down. This affects your ability to shift and works the clutch excessively when the clutch pedal is pressed.

Difficult shifting may also be caused by an issue with the transmission transaxle. If the synchronizers in the transmission's assembly have gone bad, you will struggle shifting from one gear to another. Solving this issue will require a complete rebuild of your manual transmission.

Clutch Problems

The clutch is the most important component of a manual transmission. Without it, you will not be able to engage or disengage the engine gears as you change speeds. Therefore, you will not be able to drive your car if your clutch is not functioning.

If you notice one of the following, your clutch is most likely bad and needs to be repaired:

  • Unable to stay in gear while driving
  • Unable to engage in higher gears while driving — unable to shift into fourth and fifth gear

If your clutch will not allow you to stay in or engage in higher gears, your auto repair specialist will first check the seal of your slave cylinder and clutch master. If there is leakage, the seal will need to be replaced.

Loud Noises

Changing gears will create some noise. However, if your car is making loud noises while idling, there is most likely a serious problem with your transmission.

Loose gears or broken clutch components will come in contact with other parts of your transmission, causing loud noises even when your car is idling. As you engage and shift gears, the noises will become less noticeable, but the problem will still be there.

Diagnosing and repairing these loose or damaged parts quickly is essential, since they will cause further damage to your transmission and engine.

Transmission Fluid Changes or Leaks

No matter what type of transmission your car has, the fluid is an integral component to its operation and health.

Transmission fluid acts as a lubricant for all the components of your transmission. Without sufficient fluid, your transmission will struggle shifting, as components will make excessive contact that can lead to a complete failure of the transmission.

Checking your fluid regularly is smart, since regular driving can deplete the amount of fluid that is in the reservoir. In addition, dirt and debris can build up inside your fluid reservoir over time. This buildup can cause your fluid to evaporate while increasing the risk of a complete transmission failure.

 If the fluid levels are low or if the fluid appears dirty, consider replacing the fluid immediately. Most vehicle manufactures recommend changing fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles in a manual transmission. If you are noticing issues while shifting or if you see actual moisture leaking from the fluid reservoir, it is most likely time to replace the fluid.

Maintaining a manual transmission is important, but it does not have to be difficult. If your car is displaying one of the above signs, it is time to consider a transmission service.