11 Signs Your Car Is NOT Shifting Correctly

Let’s be honest, we all have this problem when driving: Unable to shift. If there is a situation when the car not shifting properly, car owners might end up with expensive transmission repairs. For that reason, drivers must deal with the problems causing your car to not shift the right way as fast as possible. You might have a simple problem that costs nearly nothing, yet if you ignore it, you might end up with a terrible transmission issue.

In this situation, it is recommended that you should contact a mechanic. They can give you a check for your transmission system. The real question is: What are the signs showing that your car not shifting properly?

Signs of Car Not Shifting Properly

There are two main types of transmission repairs, so if your car not shifting properly, we might need to check the transmission . If you need minor transmission repairs, it usually involves re-sealing for leaks, replacing defective solenoids, as well as replacing throttle cable adjustment and parts. On the other hand, your car needs disassembling, cleaning, inspection and rebuilding if there is major transmission repair. Luckily, transmission failure usually gives car owners all the signs when happening. So keep in mind these symptoms:

Fluid Leak

If there is trouble shifting, transmission fluid leak might be one of your problems of car not shifting properly. All car owners must know that there are 6 main fluids in your automobile. All of them are cool, lubricate and helpful. To be more specific, they help you brake, steer, as well as clear your windshield. They are so helpful that without them, your vehicle is in huge trouble. This means if your fluid breaks down or leaks, your engine cannot work the right way.

11 Signs Your Car Is NOT Shifting Correctly
Your car might have these symptoms (Source: pexels)

In order to spot this issue from an automatic transmission fuel leak, car owners need to find the red or darker color from the fluid. They will have a either toasty or sweet smell coming along. Driver can easily spot the leak yourself by finding suspicious fluids dripping on your driveway. Another way to test it is to check the transmission dipstick after warming up the engine. The stick is very helpful with the purpose of marking the level of fluid. Since the fluid does not burn off like oil and if the transmission fluid is low, there might be a leak somewhere. We recommend to re-seal the transmission first, then refilling the fluid.

Warning Light Flashes

One of the most common symptoms showing that your car might not shift properly is the warning light illuminating. This chronic check engine light is usually being ignored, however, expert car owners know how serious this sign is. To be more specific, the sensors around the car trigger the warning signs, and it is worth taking a look. Usually, it means the transmission sensors are having problems. 

Dragging Clutch

This issue is a bit different, and it is also not related to the automatic transmission. However, dragging the clutch is another sign of trouble for manual automobiles, which is why your car not shifting properly

Car owners are too familiar with the extra slack in the clutch pedal. It causes difficulty for the clutch disc to disengage, as well as leave the clutch spinning. Since the clutch cannot transfer the engine power, the drivetrain cannot receive the power. This makes changing gears become impossible. Drivers usually notice a grinding sound coming along when their cars have the clutch drag problem.

Gear Slipping

Gear changing for no reason, or gear slipping, is one serious problem that all drivers must notice. Normally, a car informs the gear changes based on external input. With the manual type of transmission, the owner decides every single gear shift. While in automatic transmission, the driver will select neutral, drive or reverse. 

11 Signs Your Car Is NOT Shifting Correctly
Gear slipping is a serious issue (Source: pexels)

However, if there is gear slipping issue happening, we can be caught off guard, which leads to dangerous situations and accidents. Not only is it dangerous, your engine will also be damaged heavily. The main culprit of gear slipping are worn transmission bands and low fluids. So if you are having this problem, contact the mechanic immediately.

Shaking and Grinding

Normally, the shifting in transmission is smooth and goes without notice. However, when your vehicle is shaking during gear shifts, you know that there is something wrong. And it gets worse overtime with wear until your gears are shot. If you are driving a manual automobile, you need to adjust or even replace your clutch in order to fix it. 

Delay Engagement

Have you ever started a car, yet it does not respond immediately? If your car must wait for a moment before going into drive or moving, you are having a delayed engagement. This is one of the most common signs showing your vehicle is not shifting properly. Even though you rev the engine, or push the clutch pedal up and down, there is still a delay before the car moves forward. 

Burning Smell

We agree that there are so many weird smells on road trips. There could be on the roads, on the air or even coming from the car driving next to. However, if any of them seem to be coming from your car’s engine, it is serious. And if that is a burning smell, you need to check your automobiles as quickly as possible. 


When the transmission fluid degrades or runs low, it overheats and burns. The heat makes the temperature of your engine rise fast. Without a doubt, it creates excess debris, early wear, as well as corrosion.

Along with transmission fluid, the causes of burning smells might be dripping antifreeze, trapped plastic, or a melting heater core. But whatever it is, if you smell the burning coming from your vehicle, check them out fast.  

Neutral Noises

Every noise coming from the car is the warning sign from your cars, especially excess noise. A bumping, noisy sound when you set your vehicle in neutral mood is serious. But don’t be panic, we can fix this problem quite simply. Since the issue might be low fluid or wrong type of fluid, our solution is to replace it. However, if there is nothing changed when you refill the new type of fluid, time to check the bearings. The faulty gear teeth or bearings can also cause noise when your car is in neutral mode. For that reason, car owners must have replacements for these car parts.

In conclusion, when you have this sound, you need to have an engine check for your automobile.  


Another reason why your car is not shifting the way it should is the unresponsive. Unlike the delay engagement, the transmission is faulty and cannot slide right into the proper gear. And due to this, your car cannot give the owners any response. Usually, the problem is in the clutch. But if you cannot find anything wrong, we suggest calling the closest mechanics for an inspection. 

Clunking and Whining Sounds

Along with the shaking and grinding sounds, clunking and whining are the type of noises that no drivers are happy about. In the movies, we can see the breakdown of vehicles at various times. And they usually come with flat tires, damaged starter, as well as clunking sounds. In real life, strange noises mean your transmission is in trouble. 

Humming, whining or humming noises are the clearest signs of automatic transmission issues, and it stops your vehicle from shifting properly. A break-out manual transmission will let out loud sounds that cannot be ignored. So whenever you hear this loud sound, call the mechanic for help. 

Cannot Go into Gear

Another popular issue stopping your car from shifting the right way is the rejection of going into gear. It sounds simple, yet not many drivers understand that this is related to many car components. First, we need to check the fluid. If your fluids are filled and clean, car owners can take a look at the clutch linkage as well as the shift cables, which is the second step. And if all of them are working perfectly, the computer system of your vehicle could also be the cause. 

In order to fix this problem, we can simply disconnect the battery for around half to one hour, and the computer will reboot.