Transmission Noises

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.

Transmission Thunk

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.

Gurgling Sound

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. 


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