8 Signs of a Transmission Fluid Leak | Weston Automotive

8 Signs of a Transmission Fluid Leak | Auto Repair Tips


Transmission fluid leaks are a common occurrence with motor vehicles here in Fort Collins, Colorado. This is especially true for older cars. Transmission fluid leaks typically happen for two reasons: the first is when the seal between the pan and case wears out and allows oil to seep out; the second is when a crack develops in one of the hoses leading from your transmission to your engine.

If you see any of the signs below, you should have your transmission inspected by a certified mechanic immediately:

adding transmission fluid to car

1. Red/brown fluid under your car

One of the most common signs of a transmission fluid leak is fluid stains on the ground. The color of the fluid will vary depending on the type of transmission fluid you have. However, it is usually red or brown and can also be a combination of both colors. Other fluids like engine oil and brake fluid are clear, so this is an easy way to tell if it's transmission fluid.


2. Low transmission fluid level

Another telltale sign of transmission problems is low fluid levels. If you notice that your transmission fluid level is low, it could mean you have a leak somewhere in the system, or there's something wrong internally with the transmission itself. Low transmission fluid levels can cause premature wear and tear on various parts of the transmission, leading to more serious problems.


3. Burning smell from your car

If you notice a strong burning smell coming from under your hood, check around for signs of leaking fluids before taking further action. Transmission fluid leaks often cause this smell because of friction inside the transmission pan, which causes materials to burn up.


4. Grinding sounds coming from your car

If you notice grinding or clicking sounds coming from your car, this could be another sign that your car has a transmission fluid leak. This happens because there isn't enough lubrication in the transmission, so metal parts grind against each other rather than slide smoothly against each other.

This friction can damage the teeth on the gears and cause them to wear down quickly over time, which is why it's important to get any grinding noises checked out by an auto repair shop as soon as possible before things get worse.

close up of am automatic gear selector in a car

5. Car Overheating

Another common sign of a transmission fluid leak is overheating. When there's too much friction in your transmission and insufficient lubricant, it can overheat, causing damage to internal components. The fluid helps cool down the transmission, so when it's low, it can't do its job properly. If you notice this problem, take your vehicle to a mechanic as soon as possible.


6. Transmission slipping

A slipping transmission is usually brought on by low transmission fluid or internal damage. A slipping transmission does not engage gears correctly and does not deliver power to the wheels. This can be a dangerous situation if it occurs while you are driving.

Adding fluid will usually remedy the problem if the problem is related to low fluid levels. However, if it persists, there may be internal damage that requires a complete rebuild of the transmission.


7. Dashboard warning light

If your dashboard shows a warning light for the transmission, this could mean that your vehicle's transmission fluid is low or leaking. The dashboard warning light will alert you to this issue, but it's important that you take your car to a repair shop as soon as possible so they can check out the problem and fix it quickly before any further damage occurs.


8. Trouble shifting gears

A transmission fluid leak can also lead to trouble shifting gears, especially when going from first gear into second gear or from second gear into third gear. This is usually caused by the leaking fluid getting onto certain parts of the transmission, such as gears or bearings, causing them to stick together or seize up altogether.

woman on the phone looking under the hood of her broken down car


If you notice that your transmission fluid is leaking, it's important to have the problem addressed right away by a mechanic. Transmission fluid leaks can lead to expensive repairs if they go unchecked. 

Weston Auto Service is an auto repair specialist located in Fort Collins, Colorado. We are ASE-certified mechanics specializing in foreign and domestic auto repair. For any car maintenance issue, we always recommend using a certified mechanic. For a free diagnostic and full analysis of your car problem please contact us or call us at 970-377-3333.

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