Things That Seem Like Transmission Problems But Aren't
Here are some things that may seem like transmission problems but aren't. Any of the problems below can cause rough shifting or other transmission related problems, even though there is nothing wrong with your transmission. Likewise, many of these problems can cause transmission problems if not corrected. Many of these will turn the check engine light on. Once it's on, it is impossible for the light to tell you that something else has failed, too. Often, a vehicle will develop additional problems, but since the check engine light is already on, you never know it until it shows more physical symptoms. Then it may be too late for an inexpensive repair. Always, always get a check engine light problem fixed promptly. If the check engine light is on and ignored, it can't come on again for another problem that develops later--it's already on.
- Computer or sensor malfunction. Transmissions are computer controlled. If the computer gets a signal that is wrong, it may issue the wrong command. A bad computer can also send the wrong signal on its own. This can destroy a transmission, but caught early, can cost a lot less than a transmission rebuild.
- Clogged catalytic converter. A clogged catalytic converter makes the engine work harder. As a result, the transmission may not shift when it should, or at all.
- Defective oxygen sensor(s). A defective oxygen sensor can impede nomal engine operation. It may work harder, affecting the way the transmission shifts.
- Dirty fuel filter or fuel injector system. Like the defective oxygen sensors, a poor performing engine will work harder, and can affect the way the transmission shifts.
- Cylinder misfires. This too can cause vibration and feel like a shudder. Often mistaken for torque converter issues.
- Too rich or too lean fuel system. Causes a reduction in power, making the engine work harder, thereby affecting shfting.
- Broken engine or transmission mounts. The various thumps and bumps can convince you there is a transmission problem, but generally these are minor issues.
- Electrical problems. Many elecrical problems can result in an apparent false transmission problem. Brake light and trailer light wiring problems are common. The brake light switch is actually wired to the torque converter lock-up solenoid. If it won't lock up, you can overheat the transmission quickly. Have wiring issues checked promptly if they affect your brake lights. Not only is this a potential safety issue, but can cost you when the transmission fails.
- Dirty mass air flow sensor. The mass air flow sensor affects engine power. If the engine has wor to work harder, it will certainly affect transmission shifting.