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3 Possible Reasons Why Your Transmission Keeps Slipping

vehicle transmission
The transmission has one of the most important roles to play in an automobile. The transmission harnesses the mechanical energy generated by the engine and transfers it to the wheels. The complex system of components used to achieve this goal suffers a lot of wear and tear as time goes on, often resulting in abnormal behavior. 
One of the most commonly experienced transmission problems is the tendency for the engine to slip out of gear. This phenomenon can be quite scary, as it may cause your car to jerk, lurch, or temporarily lose acceleration. Unless dealt with quickly, a slipping transmission only grows worse.  Read on to take a closer look at three common causes of a slipping transmission.
1. Worn Clutch Plates
Cars with automatic transmissions contain a number of components known as clutch plates. Each time your car changes gears, the transmission pushes together a different combination of clutch plates, allowing power to move from the engine to your wheels. When changing gears, the clutch plates release momentarily before being pressed together in a different combination.
Every time your clutch plates come together, they generate friction against the nearby plates. Although the plates contain a coating meant to increase durability and lifespan, over time, the constant friction will cause them to wear down. Once a clutch plate grows thin and/or smooth enough, it may slip out of contact with the adjoining plates even when engaged.
Fortunately, most clutch plates have quite a long lifespan - generally between 120,000 and 170,000 miles. In other words, if your odometer has yet to reach that mileage, chances are your slipping transmission has a different cause.
2. Faulty Shift Solenoid
A transmission regulates the movement of clutch plates and other internal components like the planetary gears through the use of transmission fluid. As fluid moves into and through the transmission in different patterns, it exerts the physical force necessary to engage different gear combinations.
Transmission fluid flows through the transmission under the control of electro-mechanical valves known as the shift solenoid. The solenoids receive instructions from the engine computer like when to open and close. If a particular solenoid has burned out, become stuck, or otherwise fails to operate normally, your transmission may slip when attempting to engage certain gear combinations.
3. Torque Converter Problem
In order for the transmission to make use of the engine's power, it must first be converted into torque. The responsibility for this task falls on the torque converter. Like other parts of the transmission, the torque converter relies heavily on transmission fluid. In fact, the torque converter controls the amount of fluid that moves on to the transmission itself.
If a torque converter experiences a problem that affects fluid flow, transmission slipping may ensue. Other symptoms of torque converter issues include overheating, shuddering, odd or unusual sounds, and contaminated transmission fluid.
A torque converter utilizes a number of internal components, which increases the number of places where problems can develop. Bad needle bearings, damaged seals, and faulty torque converter solenoids may all contribute to transmission slipping. In some cases, a damaged torque converter can be repaired. However, a more common solution would be to replace the converter entirely.
Even the most well-maintained transmission system may develop problems as time goes on. As such problems grow worse, your transmission will increasingly struggle from slippage and other problems. Fortunately, you can keep such issues at bay through regular inspections and maintenance.
For more information about what a professional can do to keep your transmission shifting smoothly as time goes on, contact the repair professionals at Corporate Auto Works.