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Automatic Transmission Shifting Hard: Everything You Need to Know

Why is the automatic transmission shifting hard? That is one of the usual questions that I can hear whenever I visit my local automotive shops. Of course, we all know that when it comes to transmission issues, things could go wrong quickly. You have to prepare yourself and your money as well. That is due to the fact the problems found in the transmission of your vehicle are hard and expensive to troubleshoot.

As far as I know, repairing a transmission could cost more than a thousand bucks. The price could go still go higher if we are talking about replacements. But once your mechanic advice you to have your automatic transmission get repaired, you have no other choice but to comply. Otherwise, your car would become completely unusable.

Once the transmission starts to exhibit signs of impending doom, you should immediately bring your vehicle to a professional and comprehensive service center. In fact, it is essential that there is a transmission expert that will take a look at your car. In this way, you can prevent further damages and problems from arising. As the adage goes, “prevention is better than cure”. If you don’t want your vehicle to become impaired, you need to be one step ahead.

What is automatic transmission?

what is automatic transmission

Source: https://biser3a.com/dealers/bosch-celerbates-50-years-of-the-automatic-transmission/

The transmission of a vehicle could either be manual or automatic. But on this article, we will give our focus to automatic transmissions. A lot of car owners find automatic transmissions mystifying. They are no short routes to where you can quickly master the function and performance of this part. Even some mechanics would feel a sense of doubt if they will encounter jobs that involve the transmission.

When automatic transmissions are working correctly, your life on the road would be practically smooth. But once they break on you out of nowhere, you will get stuck for sure. There is no other choice for you but to call towing services to take your car to the nearest service shop.

Specifically, an automatic transmission comes with a planetary gear. The later is the one that draws power from the engine towards the transmission. Usually, it is surrounded by smaller tools and comes with a set of internal teeth. An automatic transmission would enable the car to get access different gear ratios. On its better days, an automatic transmission can offer you smooth and hassle-free shifting. But if things turn to bad, the whole system would inevitably shut down.

Most of the worst case scenarios in the road are because of automatic transmissions rather than their manual counterpart. It is a predicament that you have to accept once you purchased a vehicle with such driving mechanism.

Read more: https://jalopnik.com/this-is-how-an-automatic-transmission-works-517581894

Automatic Transmission Shifting Hard: Probable Causes

Of course, it is not normal once you feel that you can’t shift gears smoothly. It is an annoying predicament, especially if you are driving on busy roads. You will get agitated by the inability of your car to adapt to speed limits. On some occasions, your fellow drivers would even scold you.

So what are the causes of this problem? Well, here are some of the possible culprits that you need to wary of:

Transmission Fluid

automatic transmission fluid

Source: https://www.normreevesvw.com/what-kind-of-transmission-fluid-do-i-need

An automatic transmission that has difficulty in shifting might have an insufficient transmission fluid. It could also be that the liquid is discolored and old already. A defective fluid can cause hard shifting. After all, lubrication is necessary for the operation of the system. If you would prolong the problem, the error could become incorrigible.

On the other hand, a new transmission fluid should have a reddish hue. Moreover, it should be runny and transparent.

Sensor Issues

It is pretty natural for modern vehicles to have a myriad of electronic sensors. Among the sensors that are being installed on cars today are those that monitor and operate the shifting of the transmission. If there is a faulty connection, the sensor will never get the appropriate readings. As a result, hard shifting can happen.

Notably, an unresponsive sensor can release wrong signals to the system of your car. It is better that you will get your sensors be checked by professionals on a regular basis to prevent these nuisances from happening.

Also, you have to remember that a broke speed sensor can also cause anomalies in the transmission shifting. If the speed sensor has wrong reports about the actual speed of the vehicle, you will be having a frustrating time on the road.

Problems In the Vacuum

Sometimes, the issue that is being experienced by your transmission could be due to underlying problems in the vacuum lines. It is notable that bent, disconnected, or clogged vacuum lines directly affects the pressure that is within the transmission system.

These particular irregularities cause the transmission to lower its performance and responsiveness. If you will not fix these problems on the vacuum lines immediately, the one who is going to suffer next is the transmission. And that is something that you need to avoid at all cost.


If the automatic transmission is shifting hard, then the culprits could be any of those that I have mentioned. There are instances in where these problems will appear at the same time. They make the repairing cost more brain-wrecking than it should be. But since you don’t have any choice but to comply with the needs of your vehicle, these expenses should be met.

Luckily, you can still lower the severity of this situation by having your vehicle checked by professional mechanics regularly. They are the ones that you can entrust your car. Just take heed of their recommendations so that you can adequately take care of your beloved wheels. It would also be great if you learn some necessary mechanic skills if you want to lessen the maintenance cost for your ride.

If you do not do any of these preventive actions, you can’t guarantee that your transmission system can last long in the road. There is no other more painful thing than to see yourself getting stranded in the middle of the road.

Did you learn from this article? If you have other questions or suggestions, just drop them in the comment section below!

Steven K. Galloway