4 Signs You Might Have Used the Wrong Transmission Fluid

Posted on: 17 January 2019

You need to provide your car with the manufacturer-specified transmission fluid to avoid performance issues and potential damage. It's a component made of many moving parts, and they need fluid to work properly. Unfortunately, different manufacturers design gearboxes that require fluids of different viscosities and additives, so using the wrong one is a mistake that can lead to expensive repairs.

To minimise damage, you should catch the issue as soon as possible. Here are just four common signs you've used the wrong transmission fluid.

1. Improper Shifting

If there's ever anything wrong with your gearbox, it's a good bet you're going to start experiencing problems changing gears. In most cases, gears will start slipping since the plates and other parts of your transmission aren't working in the correct way. As time goes by, you'll start finding it increasing rough to shift, and you may start slipping out of gear as you drive. If you keep driving, you may eventually find your car stalling when you attempt to change gears.

2. Grinding

When the gears and other moving parts in your gearbox start to rub against each other without the correct fluid providing lubrication, you get a lot of metal on metal contact, and that tends to lead to grinding or bumping sounds, especially when you change gears. This is more than just a pain for your ears — having parts grinding together wears them down, which can eventually lead to extensive gearbox damage.

3. Overheating

It's becoming increasingly tempting for people to ignore any warning lights that activate on the dash. After all, modern cars are so resilient that most never need serious repairs. However, you should pay attention to those lights, especially when they suggest overheating. This may be displayed through an overheating icon or via the check engine light. In either case, incorrect transmission fluid could be to blame. When you're not using the right transmission fluid, a lack of lubrication increases heat in your transmission. As with grinding, this can do serious long-term damage.

4. Bad Smell

If you're worried something is wrong with your transmission fluid, leave your car at standstill to let everything cool down and then check it via the dipstick — you should find instructions on how to do this detailed in your owner's manual. If the fluid is a different colour than before, that's a sign you've gone with the wrong one. If it smells slightly burnt, that's a sign something is wrong with your transmission, and it could well be that the wrong fluid was used.

If you are experiencing problems with your transmission, take your car to a local mechanic who can perform gearbox repairs.