7 Signs your Gear Box May be in Trouble

Updated February 1, 2017

Car problems are usually complex in nature but often quite easy to locate. One of the biggest issues with most cars is a shot gear box or transmission. Of course, the gear box is always going to suffer in the long term and the amount of use they get deems them likely to pose some problems after a longer period of time.

Cars auto problems are usually easy to locate as they tend to come with distinct noises or sounds that indicate the specifics of the issue. This is also true for transmissions. So, here are some of the signs you may be having problems with your gear box.

Wont’ go into Gear

If the gear stick won’t move when you press the clutch or is a lot harder to move than it used to be, you could be in trouble. This can be caused by a number of issues, such as a wrong thickness of transmission fluid, a low amount of the fluid or sometimes problems with the shift cables and the linkage to the clutch.

A Smell of Burning

Never a good sign this one; a burning smell is often caused by heated transmission fluid overheating and smells quite sweet. This fluid is a necessity and must stay cool as it prevents the moving parts from burning up and allows for their smooth movement. Dirty or low levels of fluid commonly cause this issue.


If your gear box is noisy when in neutral this could be a major or a minor issue. Noise in neutral settings could cause something more serious and mean that you may need replacement parts and worn bearings and other problems such as gear teeth are often the cause. Be sure to get this checked out as soon as possible.

Dragging Clutch

If the clutch fails to remove itself from the fly wheel quickly you have issues. This is apparent when the driver removes his or her foot from the clutch pedal and there is often a grinding noise to accompany the issue. Fortunately, this is often down to slack in the cable between the clutch and the clutch disk beside the fly wheel and is often easy to fix.


When you change gear and the transmission seems to grind a little then you may be in a bit of trouble. This may be down to a worn clutch and even gear synchronisers. This is also often a problem for automatic cars and may require adjustment or repair – ask your garage or if in car leasing, your contract hire company to have someone take a look.


If the car is whining or humming then you may have transmission issues. Get it checked out by a professional as it may be a gear related issue. It can also be down to CV joints or differential.  Be aware it may just be the car but if it becomes more frequent it may be an issue.

Slow gears

If your gears refuse to go into the correct gear each time then it may be an issue. This is noticeable in manual gear where the car tends to rev a little and is a sign of a worn clutch. In automatics this happens between park and drive modes. If there is hesitation there may be an issue.

Cormac Reynolds writes for UK car leasing and contract hire company First Vehicle Leasing.



Calvin Escobar
About Calvin Escobar

The Car scene is so diverse Where I come from, most enthusiasts recognize the amazing engineering (particularly the engines). The bulk of the ridicule originates from the manner in which many of the vehicles are modded/maintained. Thus, the jokes and or hate tends to be aimed more at the owner rather than the machine. All of which makes seeing properly sorted old Toyota's and Hondas at car meets, auto shows, and track days all the more refreshing.

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