How to Check a Used Car Transmission during a Test Drive
Posted Friday, December 10, 2021
When you choose a used car, the main component to pay special attention to is the transmission. After all, it bears the lion’s share of the load during the car operation, and its breakdowns can turn into complex and expensive repairs.
At Indy Auto Man, Indianapolis, we carefully inspect each car to guarantee smooth performance. See it for yourself during your test drive!
Read our quick guide on how to check a used car transmission to be fully prepared.
Check the Vehicle History Report
The first thing you can do online to check a used car condition is to read its history report. At Indy Auto Man, you can order a CARFAX vehicle history report for free.
This report will contain the transmission history, including the mileage and all the repair work the car underwent in Indianapolis and beyond. If the gearbox has been in service too often, and the mileage has reached 150,000 miles or more, then the transmission is too worn out.
How Do You Know If a Car Has a Bad Transmission?
Over the years, the transmission does a lot of work, and some problems are inevitable. Repairing a gearbox can be quite expensive, so you should pay attention to anything that seems out of the ordinary.
Lack of response. The transmission is designed to ensure correct gear shifting at all times, so if the gear does not respond, it is a symptom of a malfunction.
A howling, humming, or buzzing sound. It is difficult to say what sounds exactly the faulty transmission is making, but you will understand that something is wrong with the box if you hear strange sounds.
Leakage of liquid. A transmission fluid leak is probably one of the most obvious signals that you need to pay attention to the gearbox. Automatic transmission fluid is so important for shifting that even a minor leak can cause serious difficulties. Do not trust the spotless and shining surfaces under the hood, the leakage of some fluids could be hidden from the buyer this way.
The sliding-off gear. If the transmission is working properly, the car goes in the gear you or the computer choose, depending on the engine speed, until the switch. But it can happen that the gear suddenly slides off while driving, and (on manual transmission) the lever goes into neutral. This is annoying at best and can be dangerous at worst.
The smell of burning. If you feel that the transmission fluid smells like fumes, then there is definitely a problem. A burning smell may indicate overheating of the transmission.
How to Check an Automatic Transmission
When the engine is warmed up and running, you can check the operation of the box with the brake pedal pressed and on the move.
Press the brake pedal and move the checkpoint handle sequentially from P (parking) to D (drive) and R (reverse), holding each for 3-5 seconds. The car reaction to switching should be barely perceptible, with a delay of no more than a second. There should be no kicks or extraneous sounds. Repeat the operation quickly: the box should not kick, either.
Move the lever to the D position, release the brake and increase the speed. The box will automatically switch in all stages up to a speed of 60 mph. Switching should be flawless, with no jolts or kicks. At the moment of steady speed, the tachometer should show no more than 2,000 rpm for a 6-speed gearbox; and no more than 3,000 – for a 4-speed gearbox. If the readings are higher and the engine roars, the box is faulty.
Check the used car operation on automatic downshifts. Accelerate and coast the vehicle. With deceleration, the gears should downshift almost silently and smoothly.
If the car is equipped with the Overdrive function, don’t forget to check it too. Automatic transmission during Overdrive should switch one speed higher, and when turned off – one lower.
How to Check a Manual Transmission
In theory, a manual transmission is simpler and usually does not require the same complexities of maintenance and repair as an automatic one. However, it is designed for even longer mileage – about 300,000 miles.
Get into the car and, without starting to move, press and hold the clutch pedal. If you hear a metallic rustle, it may mean that the clutch release bearing is worn out. At first, this may be a single symptom, but later this will entail difficulty in turning on and off gears or shifting with a characteristic crunch. In neutral, the transmission should be silent. If you hear extraneous noise that disappears when the clutch pedal is pressed, then the reason may be insufficient oil level or quality.
Check that all gears are switched up and down alternately on the move. Don’t forget about the reverse one.
Check the operation of all gears alternately under load. Shift up and actively accelerate. Engine RPM and speed should increase evenly and proportionally.
Buying a Used Car in Indianapolis at Indy Auto Man
If you worry that you don’t have enough skills to check a used car transmission yourself, look for a reliable car seller in Indianapolis. When you come to Indy Auto Man, you can be sure that a used car will not bring you an unpleasant surprise. All vehicles from our assortment undergo thorough technical diagnostics. We give a 7-day guarantee so that you can return a used car if it doesn’t suit you.
Visit Indy Auto Man today and get behind the wheel with no headache!