What to Do If Your Automatic Transmission Is Inconsistent

If you have a car that's fitted with an automatic transmission, you will undoubtedly take this complicated mechanism for granted. You'll go from point-to-point as if you were on autopilot until a problem rears its head. In this case, the system seems to be working erratically and it will often jerk or hesitate instead of shifting smoothly from one gear to the next. Is this something to do with the clutch mechanism or could it be another thing entirely?

Low Levels

Any mechanic worth his or her salt will always start with what is potentially the easiest fix and work forward from there. In this case, they will want to check to see if the transmission fluid is low and whether it needs to be topped up. If you're not sure where to look in order to find the dipstick, you can always find that information in the vehicle handbook.

If it turns out that the fluid is indeed low, then you should add some to the required level but should also make a mental note to get the system checked out. It could be that you have a leaky seal that will need to be replaced or you will encounter the problem again.

Fluid Degradation

Mind you, the fluid itself could be at fault if you haven't changed it in a long time. This fluid is specially engineered to play a key role when ensuring that the internal clutch plates bind properly during a typical gearshift. If the fluid has begun to degrade, then this could be the cause of inconsistent performance. When you check to see if the fluid level is sufficient, have a look at its appearance at the same time. If it appears to be dirty or has a burnt smell, then you will need to change it as soon as possible.

Cold Weather Problems

If you happen to live in an area of the country that suffers from cold weather conditions in winter, don't be surprised if you notice some inconsistent transmission performance during a frosty morning. The fluid may be a little thick when you first start off and may not be able to perform at its best. Everything should be fine once the vehicle has warmed up properly, or you could always change to a higher-quality synthetic fluid instead.

Still Worried?

If you think that you still have a problem after all this, your next port of call should be your neighbourhood automatic transmission services. They will be able to diagnose and fix whatever is wrong.