Transmission Leak: Symptoms and Causes

One of the ways your vehicle can have serious complications is through a transmission fluid leak. And the reason is due to its function, which is to protect and lubricate your vehicle’s transmission parts.

When there is a low transmission fluid level due to leakage, the performance of the transmission parts will be affected, which can lead to damage to the vehicle if not fixed. To fix a transmission leak, you have to know the symptoms and the causes to identify the problem before going to a technician to fix it.

Read on to find out the symptoms and causes of transmission fluid leaks.

Symptoms of Transmission Fluid Leak

There is a lot of safety in the early detection of a problem, but if you do not know the signs and symptoms, you cannot detect the problem.

Hence, transmission leaks can be detected by the following signs;

Red/Brown Puddle Beneath Your Car

One crucial routine check you need to add to your car maintenance culture is continuously checking beneath your vehicle. When driving your car from a parked position, observe the floor to see if there is any fluid. If you observe a red or brown puddle with a slick and oily touch, it’s definitely a transmission fluid leak, and you should waste no time fixing it.

Grinding Gears

If your transmission fluid is leaking, your vehicle might start to exhibit some strange sound like grinding gear. This happens by the friction between the gears caused by the low level of transmission fluid. Though the sound is not exclusive to transmission fluid leaks, it is a warning signal. And heeding this alarm will lead you to check the level of transmission fluid or visit a technician to do a thorough check on it.

Burning Smell And Overheating From Transmission

When your transmission fluid is low, another good symptom is overheating. This occurs because the fluid is needed to ensure smooth transmission, and as the gears work without proper lubrication, overheating sets in. You can detect this through your dashboard displaying the temperature of your engine.

Another way you can check overheating aside from your dashboard indicator is when you perceive a burning smell. As your vehicle overheats, it usually smells like something is burning, and you should check your transmission fluid level and the leakage. If the fluid level is low, you should top it up with the right type specified for your vehicle.

Check your owner’s manual to find the proper type of transmission fluid used for your car. Or you can visit to get more knowledge of transmission fluid type and capacity used in your vehicle.

Causes Of Transmission Fluid Leak

There are major and minor causes of transmission fluid leak. And the question of what causes a leaky transmission will be answered here.

So, immediately you see the signs, you will investigate the causes and seek a permanent solution.

Damaged Transmission Pan And Drain Plug

When the drain plug of your vehicle is loosed, or the pan is punctured, some transmission fluid will gradually leak through the small openings. On the other hand, if an impact from a big rock causes the opening, then the rate of leakage will be very high.

The looseness and puncture are caused by wear and tear from the impact of debris and rocks while driving your car on the road.

Broken Pan Gasket

Inefficient manufacturing of the gasket could lead to the loss of transmission fluid because the gasket might crack or damage easily.

And aside from poor manufacturing, it could also be because of a bad gasket alignment during the installation or constant exposure to hot temperatures. So, when you start experiencing a leak, it might be due to a cracked or damaged pan gasket, which you will need to replace.

Cracked Transmission Fluid Lines

Even though the transmission fluid line is usually made of steel and aluminum, they are still susceptible to wear and tear. The debris and rocks on the road do not damage the transmission pan only; they also affect the transmission fluid lines. And as the debris cracks the transmission fluid line, it allows fluids to escape through the opening.

Moreover, during time, the wear and tear can cause the lines to breakage or crack. This also can lead to the leakage of transmission fluid.

Torque Converter

The torque converter is an essential component that allows the transmission fluid to flow into the whole system of your vehicle. And if the needle bearings of the torque pump are damaged or there is a crack on the body, it leads to a transmission fluid leak.

When this occurs, it is difficult to fix, and you will need the services of an expert technician. And while he is fixing the torque converter, he can also check for transmission fluid leaks between the transmission and engine. So he can fix all of them together.


In the maintenance of your car, there is no room for compromise or neglect because a simple mistake can be fatal. The case of a transmission fluid leak requires haste when detected to prevent severe damage to your car or loss of life.

And this article has outlined the symptoms that can prompt early detection and the causes of transmission fluid leak. You can visit an auto shop to get your car checked and fixed if you see any of the signs highlighted.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *