The car's transmission system is like our body's nervous system. Without it, the driver will not be able to "communicate" with the rest of the car's parts. The importance of a well-maintained transmission in a used car for sale should not be downplayed at all – transmission repair costs can range anywhere from $1,000 to more than $5,000, depending on the quality of service that you want. In short, a cheap used car is cheap used junk if it has a faulty transmission.
Now that I have your attention, let's discuss the major signs of a problematic transmission. As soon as any of the following is present in the car that you are looking at, stay away from it. On the other hand, if you are the car seller, make sure that this is fixed before putting the car up for sale.
Transmission problems are classified into two: it doesn't work and it doesn't work well. When we say that it doesn't work, we mean that the transmission simply won't let you change gears or may the gears slip all of the time. On the other hand, when we say that it doesn't work well, we mean that it doesn't work as smoothly as most of its kind. Noise while changing gears is the most common symptom for this one.
1. Low Fluid Levels
Usually, this issue is caused by low transmission fluid levels. However, there are many instances where the problem can be much, much worse. The mere fact that the fluid levels have gone so low may indicate that the car's owner was quite negligent in as far as maintenance.
If the transmission suffered long periods of low fluid levels, it may lead to expensive damage. While there ay be band-aid fixes for this, there is no known inexpensive way to repair ia damaged transmission other then removing it from the car and replacing any of the damaged internal components. Thus, it is important that any potential buyer of a used car should only consider buying cars whose transmissions are sufficiently lubricated.
2. Fluid Leaks
Another major sign of transmission problems is the presence of fluid leaks. Luckily, transmission fluids are usually colored red, making diagnosis of leaks a lot easier. Transmission leaks can be caused by damage in the area between the car's engine and the transmission itself.
Furthermore, for cars with transmission coolers which are usually placed near the radiator, the radiator fluid may also mix with the transmission fluid. Thus, the absence of fluid leaking to ground is not sufficient to discount the possibility of its existence.
There is a plethora of causes for transmission leaks. These causes are undoubtedly the most difficult to diagnose and consequently, repair. Hence, it is advisable for a potential buyer to veer away from these cars. You might really love the car, but what good will that do if the car won't last long anyway?
Is that it?
The importance of a healthy transmission cannot be emphasized enough. A transmission that prematurely reaches the end of its life is synonymous to a car that needs to go straight to the junk yard. Why? Because literally replacing a hopelessly broken transmission with a brand new one is practically the same as buying a new car.
Prolonged periods of low transmission fluid levels and the presence of transmission fluid leaks are the most common signs of a faulty transmission. However, this is not the end of the story. These two signs are just the first two things that one must inspect.
The next step will be to test drive the used car and observe how the car runs. This particular facet of the car buying process involves a lot of nuances and details, so much so that it warrants a separate article to afford a more thorough discussion.