Clunk, whir, and grinding of gears may indicate a problem in your transmission or in the drive train, including the shaft, differential, axles and wheel bearings. The descriptions below are some common issues that happen with transmissions that will create sounds you will hear. For performance problems, see the write-up on Transmission Performance issues.
Top Line: If your car is making unusual sounds, bring it in to have it diagnosed for free by one of our ASE Certified Master Mechanics.
High pitched whine that gets worse in reverse
This could mean that you have a clogged transmission fluid filter.
Constant whining sound that changes pitch as you drive
This may indicate a problem with your torque converter
Whining or grinding noises when driving
This can mean that the planetary gear set is damaged.
The transmission is supposed to smoothly shift into gears. If you hear a thunk, it may be because the gears weren’t synchronized before being engaged.
Steady Vibration That Increases With Speed
This could be a worn U-Joint or a out-of-balance drive shaft
Rumbling or whirring over 20 MPH
This could be caused by worn carrier bearings
Clunking sound every few feet
Broken rings or pinion gears
Clinking when starting to move or only accelerating or decelerating
This could be a bad U-Joint, loose yokes, worn transfer case or issue inside transmission.
Clinking or banging when turning corners
This could be problems with the positraction clutches or lubrication or broken spider gears
Rumble when turning corners
This may be due to worn wheel bearings
Whirring noise only when decelerating
This is likely a bad or loose pinion bearing
Noise in neutral
This could be as simple as dirty or low transmission fluid or worn parts in the transmission – usually the bearings, reverse idler gear, or gear teeth. If it is gurgling, it may be low transmission fluid
Grinding sound when shifting
Most often, this indicates a problem with the clutch. It can happen if you partially engage a gear to get past the synchronizers, pull back slightly and then shove it fully into gear. For an automatic, this may mean that the planetary gear set is damaged.
The transmission vent tubes may be clogged with mud or insects
Constant chattering while driving
Is your mother-in-law in the back seat? … Sorry, we can’t fix that.