What does it mean if a car is hard to shift?

Shifting problems usually indicate a problem with the transmission. (FYI: There’s no way around it—transmission problems can be complicated and costly.) Your mechanic will likely start by checking out the following components:
  • Transmission fluid: A leak means that the transmission does not have enough fluid. Dirty fluids lead to inefficiency in shifting. 
  • Transmission solenoids: Solenoids control how much fluid moves around the transmission.
  • Transmission: Vehicles with more than 100,000 miles on the odometer are especially vulnerable to transmission problems. Clunking or humming sounds are clear indicators of a mechanical problem.
  • Shifter cable: This cable connects the shifter handle to the transmission. If it is broken or stretched, the misalignment could cause problems shifting.
  • Clutch: A failing clutch has a spongy feeling, and you may also smell something burning. Malfunctioning clutches make it very difficult to shift.

How to get a transmission inspection when your car is hard to shift

Your transmission will need a thorough inspection in this situation. Call a garage and explain that your car is hard to shift. Describe any specific sounds you have been hearing, like grinding or clunking. 
Mechanics may inspect:  
  • Transmission fluid
  • Transmission
  • Shifter cable
  • Clutch

How long will a transmission inspection take?

The transmission is one of the most complex pieces of machinery in a vehicle. A thorough inspection can take at least half a day to complete. If the transmission needs a complete replacement, your car could spend several days in the shop.

How do I know if I need to get a transmission inspection when my car is hard to shift?

On top of difficulty sifting, bad smells and bad sounds are clear indicators of a transmission problem. You might hear clunking, grinding, or humming when you try to shift gears. Slow acceleration may also be a problem.

How important is a transmission inspection

Trouble shifting may not seem very important, but transmission trouble is very serious. Do not delay this service. 
A malfunctioning transmission can self-destruct, which is dangerous and expensive to repair. The longer you wait, the higher the chance that your vehicle will suffer more damage.

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