How to Tell if Your Automatic Transmission is Bad

rev up your engines, today I’m gonna talk
about a very important problem, how to tell if your automatic transmission is
actually starting to go out, now the automatic transmissions in most modern
cars are very complex, they’re computer run, most don’t even have dip sticks to
check the fluid level, so how do you know when they’re starting to go out, now
years ago I had a customer who came to me from a different mechanic, the other
mechanic had replaced the transmission in his car, but it still had the same
problem, at higher speeds the transmission would drop out of top gear
and go to the next lower gear, and it wasn’t shifting right, he thought it was
the transmission so he replaced it and guess what, it did the same thing, so when
he brought it to me I first did a scan of the whole vehicle, turns out that he
had a misfire, all he had was a bad ignition coil on one of the cylinders of
the engine, and you might think hey what is a bad spark plug coil have to do with
the transmission shifting, well modern cars are very complex, they have a really
tight relationship between the engine and the transmission and the drivetrain,
it’s all monitored by computer sensors and in this particular vehicle, when it
senses a misfire, the computer software automatically takes it out of the top
gear which was an overdrive gear and puts it into the next one, it’s designed
to do that, so in this case previous mechanic charged this guy for a new
transmission, when all’s it needed was an $80.00 ignition coil that was the whole
problem, now you don’t want to pay for such an unneeded expensive repair it was
thousands of dollars, so I’m going to show you how you can tell if your
transmission really is starting to go out, now in the beginning of this video I
showed you the scan tool and it showed a code of P0730, I hooked it up to this
van, right away you know, ok it’s got a problem in the transmission, now
unfortunately there’s over a dozen different things that can cause this
particular code, that’s when you got to use your brain and also use the internet
to see what this particular vehicle has a problem with, because we know it’s a
transmission problem because P0730 is gear
ratio incorrect inside the transmission but we don’t know what exactly is
causing this code, now this particular code, correct gear ratio, it could be a
whole bunch of different things sometimes it’s as small of a thing as the
fluid is dirty or the filters clogged up but from my experience with many makes
and models, when you get an incorrect gear ratio code, especially with ones
that are known for having problems, it means that the transmission itself is
going out and it needs a full rebuild now nowadays with modern complex
automatic transmission, you’re talking about thousands and thousands and
thousands of dollars, and from my research one out of every three
automatic transmissions in a modern car that’s rebuilt at one of these
transmission shops, isn’t fixed right the first time, it has to be done over and
sometimes even over again, so it’s something that most people don’t want to get
involved with, so let’s say it’s running halfway decently, maybe shifts a
little bit weird here and there, well at least with this code reader, we could
tell there is a transmission problem and if you have a mechanic check your fluid,
which you can’t check yourself anymore because they don’t have dipsticks,
and it’s not low on fluid and you can’t find other problems with the scan tool,
it’s probably a good idea to just get rid of your vehicle rather than spend
all that money fixing the transmission but as I said, you still want to use the
Internet because modern cars have such complex
automatic transmissions, they shift often mainly through software and sometimes
the software is just bad and it needs upgrading, so the Internet can help you
here I’m using the National Highway and
Traffic Association, whatever it stands for, you can look up recalls, known TSB
problems, years ago I had a customer with a Honda Odyssey, they’re known for bad
transmissions, and Honda had kind of a secret warranty on them, I looked it up
for the customer, printed it out for him, then they went to the Honda dealer and
guess what, they got a brand new transmission
absolutely free, Hondas always were a bit weak on their automatic transmissions
but on the odyssey’s they were absolute garbage and they knew it, and so I have
seen numerous people get free automatic transmissions put in them by Honda,
when they looked up this information and found out, hey it’s a known problem, complain
to the dealer, they got free transmissions, now me I’d never want to
get involved in any of that nonsense in the first place, I mean I’d buy a Toyota
and not worry about the automatic transmission, but when you realize
there’s this kind of information out there on the Internet,
take advantage of it, just go to and it’s not just one way it’s
two way, you can complain there and when they get enough complaints, say a faulty
transmission in any particular vehicle they will have an investigation on it
and that often leads to a recall, so don’t be silent, tell the world about
your problem and you might really be surprised at what might happen, now I’ve been
warning people about buying certain types of transmissions for years, but I
can’t reach everyone, with the ability to use your phone and look up such
information, it’s really good place to start if you think you’re starting to have
transmission problems, cuz in my grandfather’s day and he was a mechanic,
hey he wasn’t an automatic transmission mechanic he’d even say about them that
every time somebody brings in a transmission they try to sell them a
full rebuild to make some money, all the more knowledge you can get yourself, the harder
it’s gonna be for people to rip you off, because realize hey, go into a
shoe store, put on a pair of shoes, what’s the salesman gonna say, oh they look great
on you, go to a transmission shop and say I think my transmission is going out, odds
are they’re gonna say, oh yeah it is it needs
a full rebuild, maybe it does but maybe it doesn’t, you want as much information
possible and even if you’re not going to do any of the work yourself or even have
a scan tool, at least go out and get estimates from different places to see
what they say, because if it’s a real transmission problem, all the honest guys
are going to give you the same diagnosis, where if you keep getting different
diagnosis from different places, then you should start wondering, hey is it really
a transmission problem or is it something else, because even though I’ve
been working on cars for 51 years, decades ago I could just get in a car
and drive it around, I could tell how it shifted and see whether the transmission
had a problem or not just by driving it and feeling how it goes, but with these
modern computer-controlled transmissions, even I can’t
figure that out with my head alone, loose connection on a sensor or even worse
some fool decided to go under the hood of their car and pressure clean
everything and then they got water and it infiltrated into all the connectors
and the transmissions have a bunch of electronic connectors on them, I’ve seen
that make them go bad, had not to do with the transmission itself, it was that all the
electronics have gotten wet, so now you know, yeah people certainly can be
squirrely inside, but modern automatic transmissions with all their computer
controls, hey they can get pretty squirrelly too, so if you think you’re
having a problem, you have to follow all these logical steps and I just showed, so
you’ll understand what’s really going on, whether you have a serious transmission
problem, one that maybe you’ll get rid of the car rather than put thousands and
thousands in, or there’s something really stupid like that old customer of mine
that had a transmission replaced, but when I looked at the car all I get to do
is replace one ignition coil and that fix the whole shifting problem, they’re
complex so you have to learn how to deal with that complexity the right way, so if
you never want to miss another one of my new car repair videos, remember to ring
that Bell!