What Do Transmission Problems Sound Like?

There are several sounds that a transmission with problems can make. The noise will greatly depend on the type of car you have and the type of transmission. However, most transmission problems sound like a high-pitched whining, grinding, bumping, or gurgling.

Common Transmission Sounds That Mean Trouble

Don't ignore transmission noises.

We’ve all heard noises from cars before, but determining whether that noise is a problem or not can be harder. While a sound that quickly goes away may be nothing to worry about, consistent noises spell trouble. Below, is a list of some of the most common transmission noises and what these sounds could possibly mean.

High-Pitched Whining

You may notice a high-pitched whining sound when you try and shift gears, and it’s worse while going in reverse. This is a telltale sign that your transmission filter is clogged. The noise occurs because the transmission fluid has been blocked from reaching the filter. If the transmission cannot be properly lubricated, it will begin to grind and corrode, requiring major transmission repairs.

Whining and Grinding

As you’re driving, do you hear whining and grinding noises? This generally means there is some trouble with your planetary gear system. Used in an automatic transmission system, the planetary gear system allows for gear ratios to be shifted easily.


If you hear sounds like water trickling down a drain or gurgling, this indicates that the transmission fluid is low. Since there isn’t enough fluid to lubricate the transmission, air pockets create a gurgling sound.

Constant Whining

A constant whining sound that changes pitch as you drive potentially signals a problem with your torque converter. If you hear whining in any gear while stationary but notice it goes away when you’re in neutral or park, this is a sign of converter bearing issues.

Bumping in Neutral

Place the car in neutral. Do you hear a bumping noise? This transmission sound could mean that you need to replace or add more fluids. It can, however, also mean that some of the parts have worn down. This can be the bearings, reverse idler gear, or gear teeth.

Humming Noises

Allow the car’s engine to idle and then shift the gear to park or neutral. Removing your foot from the brake, press on the accelerator to increase the engine’s RPMs. If you notice humming as the car increases in speed, this could mean trouble with the transmission pump.


Put your foot on the brake with the engine idle and the gear set to neutral. Then raise the rpm slightly as you put the gear into drive (keeping your foot on the brake). Should you hear a loud clunking noise, this translates to an issue with the torque converter mounts.

Rumbling, Growling, Metal-to-Metal

Drive your car on a highway or something so that you can hear the gears shift and transmission sounds. Shift the gears from first to overdrive. See if you notice rumbling, growling, or a metal scraping on metal sound as you shift gears. This is an indicator that the planetary gear system is malfunctioning.

If you happen to hear any of the above-mentioned transmission noises, stop driving the car immediately and contact a mechanic. Transmissions play a vital role in being able to operate a vehicle safely. Ignoring these noises and continuing to drive your car could result is serious consequences.

Does your car have transmission problems that you don’t want to repair? Junk Car Medics will offer you cash for your car with transmission trouble, regardless how extensive the damage is. Give us a call today at (855) 437-9728 for an estimate.

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