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How to Check the Transmission in a Used Car

If you find a pre-owned vehicle that you want to buy or lease, that’s great! However, you want to make sure it’s in the best condition possible before you just sign and drive off.

In a used car, the transmission is one of the most important things to check. After all, it’s responsible for transferring both speed and torque from the engine to the wheels!

how to check the transmission in a used carOur team at Fred Beans Used wrote this helpful guide to checking the transmission of a used car. We hope that you find it informative.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our staff with any further questions.

CARFAX® Vehicle History Report

One of the best tools that can help you check the transmission in a used car is the CARFAX® Vehicle History Report. If it’s available, you ought to look at it.

It’ll give you a detailed rundown of the vehicle’s service history, so you’ll be aware of whether its undergone any transmission maintenance, repairs, or replacements.

Checking an Automatic Transmission

When you test drive a used car with an automatic transmission, there are three main issues to watch for.

Delayed Engagement. First, a delayed engagement when shifting gears. Here’s an example: if you change from park to drive or park to reverse, but the car takes a few seconds to respond, then there’s a major problem with the transmission.

Harsh Shifting. Next, a harsh shift. To test for this, you also need to simply switch gears—you don’t even have to be moving. If the transmission makes a clunking/grinding sound when you switch or the car lurches, then there’s something wrong.

Slippage. Finally, there’s slippage. This is the most dangerous transmission issue—you could find yourself in a bad situation if you try to accelerate on the highway but your vehicle doesn’t respond. If you press on the gas, the engine makes noise, the tachometer climbs, but the car doesn’t accelerate, your transmission is probably slipping.

Checking a Manual Transmission

When you’re checking a used car for any problems with a manual transmission, you probably want to focus on the clutch, especially in older or well-worn models.

how to check the transmission in a used carIf the clutch is nearing the end of its lifespan, the transmission will start to slip on acceleration, produce a burning smell, and the clutch will engage too quickly after you depress the pedal.

Checking a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)

More recent models, especially from manufacturers like Audi, Subaru, Nissan, and others, feature continuously variable transmissions (CVT).

Here are some of the warning signs for a CVT: leaks, jerky engagement, rattling, slipping, and a loud whining noise while cruising.

Schedule a Service Appointment at Fred Beans Used

Perhaps the best way to check the transmission in a used car is to have a professional look at it for you.

Our team of expert automotive technicians at Fred Beans Used can do just that.

Simply call us or stop by our dealership to set up a service appointment as soon as possible.

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