Amy's Amazing Auto Service and Repair Blog

Signs of Automatic Transmission Overheating and How to Prevent It

by Derek Davidson

When you hear or feel something weird in your vehicle when driving, and you have to pull over, it can be even worse getting out and realizing that whatever it is, you won't fix it at the roadside and will have to call car breakdown or tow services to work their magic. It's much better not having the problem at all. This applies to your car's automatic transmission that is among your vehicle's most important modules so don't neglect it or take it for granted through habits that can destroy it. Since catching these problems earlier is the best way to do it, here are signs of an automatic transmission overheating and how you can prevent it.


Ineffective or burnt fluids are indicators of transmission overheating. If the fluid is giving off a burning smell, you should get it changed or drained. Dark brown colour, viscosity loss or contaminants in the transmission fluid are some identifiers of ineffective fluid.

Transmission Failure

Failure in transmission could mean many other problems and overheat could be one of them! In this case, you may experience no shifts, delayed shifts, and intermittent slipping out of gear. If your automatic car also comes with a manual shifter lever, you may observe that you can shift gears only when moving this lever.

Your Solutions

Replacing Transmission Fluid

The most obvious solution to transmission overheating is to replace your transmission fluid or drain. Old transmission fluids combined with dirt can clog the cooler lines and cause overheating, especially when your vehicle is pulling a heavy load. You can determine that your transmission fluid is old by looking at the colour, which may appear dark brown when old.

Minimizing Quick Shifting of Gears When Stuck

When stuck in the mud, sand or snow, don't quickly shift between back and forth between the gears because this can lead to excessive heat and burn out transmission. In this situation, it is better if you have your car towed.

Temperature Sensors

If you have a new car, it most likely has a temperature sensor on the transmission and a warning light or gauge that comes on to inform you that the transmission is getting hotter. Nonetheless, older trucks and cars may not have such sensors or gauges, so check the transmission fluid to determine whether it is hot.

Temperature Guns

Using a temperature gun to check for overheating is the best way because you can easily check the temperature entering and exiting the radiator. This helps you ensure that as the transmission fluid goes through the cooler or radiator, it cools down.

For more assistance with an overheating transmission, check out an auto shop like Timber City Motors.