Preventing Disease Transmission Repair

Can you drive with a bad transmission?

Procrastination: it’s something we’re all guilty of. Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow, right? But what about your transmission? How long can you drive with a bad transmission?

Car problems always seem to strike at the most inopportune times. If your transmission is acting up, how long can you get by before taking your vehicle into a transmission shop?

You know the feeling. You’ve got a big presentation at work, a big exam coming up, or you’re about to attend your best friend’s wedding where in the ceremony you’ll be the best man. And then your car decides it won’t work. If it’s your transmission that’s the problem, maybe you’ll keep slipping out of gear and into neutral. Maybe you’ll have a struggle just to shift gears at all. Or maybe it will make such a noise that you are afraid to keep driving it. Just your luck, huh?

Except, in many cases, luck had little to do with it. Usually, you had a chance to repair your transmission before, but for one reason or another, you did not. Maybe you were just procrastinating or maybe you did have a good excuse, but that does not change your current situation. Now you have a bad transmission. What will you do?

Very few transmission problems come out of nowhere and instantly render your vehicle inoperable. Usually you have a bad transmission before you have a completely broken transmission.

Can you still drive your transmission if it changes gears roughly? Can you still drive your transmission if you see that it is leaking a little transmission fluid? Can you still drive your transmission if it is making funny noises? Can you still drive your transmission if it keeps slipping out of gear and into neutral?

The answer to all these questions is, usually, yes, though in this last scenario that can be quite dangerous. The truth is you almost always can drive on bad transmission. But for how long? Well, that is up to you.

Driving with a bad transmission is a simple matter of risk analysis. How much are you willing to risk having to get major transmission repairs or even a transmission replacement?

It’s always best to nip small problems in the bud before they become big ones. If you absolutely must drive with a bad transmission, check your transmission fluid first. Topping that up may ease (or even solve) the problem. If you’re really not sure, contact us at Mister Transmission and we might be able to give you an idea of how bad your transmission is. In any event, you want to drive with a bad transmission for as short a time as possible.


What will happen if I run out of transmission fluid?

The transmission fluid prevents the gears in your car from grinding. No transmission fluid means you can damage the gearbox. You probably already know what happens if you run out of engine oil; your engine will have a meltdown. And no, we aren’t using figurative language. Your engine will overheat and damage itself if you continue to try and drive without oil. That is pretty much what will happen to your gearbox if you let your transmission fluid run out as well.

So, can you drive with a faulty transmission? Well, sure. Probably. Until it gets super damaged. Should you? Nope. If you first notice something wrong when your vehicle tries to shift you’ll want to get your vehicle to a mechanic as soon as you can.


Is it worth it to fix the bad transmission?

When determining the answer as to how long can I drive with a bad transmission, the first step in determining if it is worth fixing the transmission is to assess the damage. You need to check out what the professional says about your car’s damage – if your car is completely destroyed and your engine still runs, then you could keep your car.

If you are wondering about a rebuilt transmission, this is still a good option that can keep your car running at a high level, although not as high as new transmission. You need to evaluate what your vehicle is worth, and the cost to fix your transmission. You then need to have the repair estimate, the vehicle’s value, and undermine the next step from here.

A used or slave transmission ranges from around $800 to $1500, a rebuilt transmission ranges from $1100 to $2800, and a remanufactured transmission ranges from around $1300 to $3400. The total cost of these services can help you answer the question of how long can I drive with a bad transmission.

The labor to remove and replace a transmission can be quite expensive as well, with the average cost ranging from around $500 to $1200, with the labor taking between 4 to 10 hours of billed time. Despite being expensive, transmission problems should never go unattended and cause further problems. By determining what you need to have fixed in your car, you can answer yourself the question of how long can I drive with a bad transmission.


How to Tell You Have a Transmission Problem

There are a number of ways you can tell whether or not your transmission has a problem. One of the most identifiable signs is through your vehicle’s dashboard. If your engine light is on, this can signal a variety of things, but often times it means there is a problem with the transmission or engine. If you do notice that the engine light is on, make sure that you have the vehicle checked right away.

Another indicator of a bad transmission is when the transmission is not properly shifting into gears. Your vehicle should move from one gear to the next without you even noticing. You should never feel the shift or hear the shift while you are driving. If you can hear or feel the vehicle shifting then there is a problem.

You can also tell the transmission has problems if you notice that the vehicle does not move right away or has trouble getting up to speed. These are two signs that the vehicle is in need of a transmission repair. Your vehicle should not have to work to get up to speed and you should be able to accelerate and the vehicle move down the road.


Signs of transmission failure

When you start to notice signs of a transmission slipping in your car, this means that you have a limited amount of time to fix the issue and keep your car running in smooth condition. If the transmission in your car starts to act up and is not working properly, then it is key to check it fast, either yourself or by a local mechanic. These problems can quickly escalate and cause you to not be able to drive with a bad transmission.

Luckily, there are a few blown transmission symptoms to keep an eye out for that will alert you to when your transmission is going bad or give you information as to how long can I drive with a bad transmission.

Slipping transmission

Regardless of whether you have an automatic transmission or a manual transmission, both of these systems contain a clutch system that is in charge of separating and changing gears, switching between the gears to let you maintain a high performance by our car. With time, this system can wear down and your transmission system will literally start to slip while changing into the next gear.

Another cause of a slipping transmission is low transmission fluid pressure, caused by low levels of transmission fluid, clogged transmission filters, or a bad pump. These issues will continue to worsen over time, until they reach the point where the transmission will completely cease and not be able to engage at all.

This can provide the answer to the question of how long can I drive with a bad transmission.

Strange smells

As you know by now, various components in the car have their own fluid types and fluid levels, so the transmission has its own fluid to keep it running properly and prevent overheating. The transmission fluid is designed to lubricate and prevent overheating, making sure all of the gears are spinning correctly and smoothly. After the vehicle reaches a high mileage, this transmission fluid can either leak out or burn inside of the transmission.

If you see any fluid leaking under your car, check the fluid to see if it is red in color. If the fluid is red and you notice an unusual smell accompanying the red fluid leak puddle, then this can be a clear sign that your transmission is in need of service. The servicer required is a change of the transmission fluid or adding transmission fluid levels to keep it topped up correctly. If you do not do this, it can lead to a blown transmission.

Transmission warning light

Many cars that are on the market today have various warning lights and sensors that can alert the driver, and even the passengers, to common problems inside of the car. This can prevent the problem from getting worse, and allow you to fix the issue before it turns into a costly replacement. Most of the new cars today have sensors to make sure you do not harm the car, so keep an eye out for any check engine lights that turn on your dashboard.

This check engine light and transmission warning light shows that the transmission fluid is either running too low in the system or it is burning out too quickly, causing the temperature within the transmission system or the engine to rise beyond the normal limit. When the overheating occurs, this can cause the transmission to seize or blow. If you notice that your transmission is going to seize, you need to stop driving before you learn the hard way how long I can drive with a bad transmission.

Rough shifting

You might notice that your shifting has become very rough, along with rough engine idling, and the car jerking while accelerating or shifting. The most common cause of hard shifts in your vehicle is low transmission fluid level, so make sure you regularly check your fluid level with the schedule that your mechanic or manufacturer has set forth for your specific car. Jerky shifting can also be caused by too much line pressure, due to a clog or malfunctioning transmission shift solenoid. If the jerking while shifting occurs, you need to ask yourself how long can I drive with a bad transmission.

Transmission fluid leak

Along with the strange smells in your car, the fluid leak accompanies the odor coming from the transmission area. A transmission has its own fluid, as we know, that is designated just for lubrication and preventing overheating of the transmission. The fluid in the transmission is there to lubricate and ensure the gears are spinning smoothly and running together.

If you notice that there is red fluid leaking from under your car or a weird smell, then your transmission will need a quick fluid service as soon as possible. If you do not fix the transmission fluid leak, this can cause a blown transmission. A blown transmission will mean you can’t continue driving your car, answering the question of how long can I drive with a bad transmission.

Grinding or odd sounds

Not just automatic transmission, but both manual and automatic transmission will make strange sounds that can get quite loud when they start to go bad or become damaged over time. If you have a car with automatic transmission, you might hear a sound or some low humming noises, or even buzzing sounds coming from under the hood.

Benefits Of Transmissions Repair

Finding a Reliable Transmission Repair Specialist

Are you having issues with your car’s transmission? Not scheduling the needed maintenance can cause long-term damage to your vehicle. It’s important to schedule an appointment with a professional transmission repair specialist. However, with so many shops to choose from, it can be tricky to know which one is ideal for your needs. To ensure you get the best assistance, here‘s how to pick the top transmission repair specialist in your locale.

  1. Ask Friends and Family for Reference

One of the best ways to find a trustworthy company for transmission repairs is to ask people you know for reference. Talk to family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances. Chances are one of them recently took their car to an auto shop for transmission maintenance and can recommend the shop they used.

  1. Research Transmission Shops Online

The next step is to research transmission shops on the Web. Begin with a simple Google search. Try to find out as much as you can about the different local companies and the services they offer. If you need drivetrain repair, for instance, confirm it’s offered before scheduling an appointment.

  1. Read Testimonials

Most companies post testimonials and reviews online. Read these to get a better understanding of the transmission repair specialist in question. If you can’t find reviews, or they’re too broad and generic, ask the company directly for past customer testimonials.


Look for a Transmission Repair Shop with Certified Mechanics

For mechanics, there are often various certifications available to verify an advanced degree of specialized training. When you look for a mechanic, keep this in mind – often, a specialist will do an excellent job at a fair price because that is their prime business.

When choosing a mechanic, at least make sure that they are certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. There is actually no legal requirement for certification to work as a mechanic, so finding someone who has taken the time and effort to prove their thorough knowledge is always a smart move, as it guarantees their professionalism.

The Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association (ATRA) is a national board that specifically tests transmission specialists. This is a difficult certification to obtain, requiring the mechanic to pass several specialized tests related to transmission maintenance and repair. ATRA holds its certified members to a code of ethics and offers a nationwide warranty for transmission repairs, which could save you time and money with a job done right the first time.

Ask any mechanic to see his certification prior to starting any work on your car. It should be displayed on his wall, or at the very least available upon request.

Get an Estimate

It’s certainly not a bad idea to request a written estimate from any mechanic prior to agreeing to any labor. Chances are, an experienced repair shop should be able to diagnose the problem early on, and then tell you what the estimated cost for repairs will be.

By having an estimate in writing, yo also insure yourself against any surprise fees or costs when all is said and done. It is illegal for a repair shop to charge more than a pre-quoted estimate without your approval, and so having proof of a prior agreement can protect you from spending more than you thought.


Questions to Ask Your Transmission Repair Expert During Your Next Visit

We get it – no one wants to step foot in a transmission repair shop. Usually, transmission repairs are inconvenient and expensive. However, most vehicle owners must enter a transmission repair shop at least once during the lifetime of owning their automobile for transmission repairs. This can be avoided by regular transmission fluid maintenance.

The following 3 questions provide you with a starting point. Here’s what to ask a transmission repair expert during your next visit to determine if “expert” is an appropriate title:

  1. How Much Will the Repair Cost? Could You Provide an Accurate Estimate?

Depending on the nature of your repair, your trip to the transmission shop could be relatively inexpensive or extremely costly. Asking this question guarantees that you will not be caught off guard with extraneous costs – and ensures that the shop you work with offers competitive straightforward pricing.

Some shops might quote transmission repair pricing over the phone. In reality, these shops are not repairing your transmission. They are replacing your damaged transmission with a used or remanufactured unit. Any credible transmission shop that repairs transmission in-house should be able to communicate their transmission rebuild strategy in detail (see question #4); a good transmission rebuild strategy should always be tailored to the specific situation and symptoms present. Unless a transmission shop has psychic capabilities, the cost of an in-house transmission rebuild is not apparent until there is a full “tear-down” and evaluation of the disassembled transmission. Obviously, at this stage, the transmission cannot be put back together without completing a repair. It is up to the service manager to provide a best and worst-case scenario to customers prior to that “tear-down” stage. Two transmissions of the same variety can potentially have a price difference beyond $2,000. Given this fact, how can an honest transmission shop provide an accurate estimate prior to inspecting the vehicle? It would be unethical to quote the lower end of the price range only to end up with an actual price tag at the higher end of the range. This is predatory to customers and shops that engage in these types of activities should be obviously avoided!

Once the “tear-down” stage is complete, a transmission rebuilder formulates a repair strategy to get your vehicle back on the road safely and a service consultant provides an accurate estimate to the customer. In order to receive an accurate estimate, an elite transmission shop needs to collect as much information as possible from each step of the repair process, starting with the initial inspection.

  1. Do You Have Warranties for Parts or Labor?

A bad warranty is as good as no warranty at all. One key trait of an expert transmission repair company is a comprehensive warranty on all major rebuilds or repairs. The best transmission repair shops will offer upgraded options including additional years, mileage or even nationwide coverage. These options should be customizable to the needs of the vehicle owner. If a shop is not willing to stand behind their work, are you really comfortable saving a few bucks for unreliable repairs?

  1. How Experienced Are Your Technicians?

We believe that technicians are the most important part of an excellent transmission repair business. It is important to ask, “how many years of experience does each technician possess?” Do the techs work with integrity and honesty, providing high-quality service? Are the technicians certified with ASE? Knowing that the transmission shop you step foot in is built around a team of highly-qualified, highly-experienced transmission specialists is reassuring and assists with achieving quality repairs and Fast Service.


Types of transmissions

The purpose of the transmission is to transfer the power generated by the engine to the drive axle and wheels by using different gears. A car’s engine rotates within a fixed range of speeds, generally from 600 to 7,000 revolutions per minute (rpm) for most passenger vehicles.  The vehicle’s wheels typically spin from 0 to 1,800 rpm, so the transmission uses different gears with specific ratios to match the most efficient use of engine power for the vehicle’s speed.

For instance, when starting from a full stop, your car’s engine is spinning much faster than the wheels so a lower-ratio gear that supplies higher amounts of torque is needed. When traveling at highway speeds, the wheels may be turning much faster than the engine, meaning a higher-ratio, low-torque gear is needed.

There are a few varieties of transmission types found in most modern vehicles:

Automatic transmissions: The most common type of vehicle transmission for cars built and sold in the United States, automatic transmissions automatically select the correct gear for the driving conditions. Beyond special circumstances like towing a trailer or extremely steep inclines or declines, most drivers simply have to put the vehicle’s gear selector into “D” for drive and the automatic transmission does the rest. Up until recent times, automatic transmission vehicles were typically less fuel efficient than their manual transmission counterparts.

Manual transmissions: Also known as a standard transmission or manual gearbox or simply “stick,” manual transmission vehicles are a relative minority in modern American vehicles. Manual transmissions rely on the driver to select and switch gears constantly. Manual transmissions are typically equipped with a clutch pedal that’s required for the driver to be able to switch between gears. Although manual transmission vehicles provide greatly improved fuel economy (and typically cost less than automatic transmission vehicles), the downside is the constant need for attention on the part of the driver.

Continuously variable transmissions (CVT): Typically found on lighter passenger vehicles, CVT transmissions are relatively new features in terms of the American automobile market, but they offer a special set of advantages. Although they employ a different technology than traditional automatic transmissions, they perform in the same manner in terms of driver experience. Moreover, they deliver increased fuel efficiency when compared to traditional automatic transmissions.



  • Transmission Fluid Color and Condition: noticeably dirty or burnt colloquial means it’s time to drain and replace the fluid. Checking the engine fluid is a pretty simple process that can be done before bringing your vehicle into a shop.
  • Low Fluid Levels: when your fluid vehicles colloquial becomes low, some basic signs can indicate you need to add fluid. You will often notice that your vehicle will shake while driving it and the engine will have a hard time shifting (even with automatic transmissions).
  • Signs of Leaks: The most common places to find leaks are the seals, transmission lines, loose pans, or faulty gaskets.
  • Overheating: Overheating can cause parts of the transmission to malfunction and will decrease the longevity of your transmission.
  • Transmission Slipping: If you step on the gas but find that you don’t accelerate or the engine revs., it’s time to bring your vehicle to a local Atlanta transmission shop.