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The automatic Transmission might be a new phenomenon to some people. Chances are that such people might not understand how it works. This means that they could be experiencing some problems without really knowing that such problems like difficulty in shifting the Automatic Transmission need to be addressed as soon as possible because it could mean more trouble in future.

Causes of Hardness in Shifting Automatic Transmission:

This involves difficulty in shifting the transmission from one gear to another. This makes driving difficult and may cause road accidents. Ignoring this issue can also destroy your transmission and mean a lot of expenses fixing the problem. The difficulty in shifting the automatic transmissions can be as a result of:

Dirty and Low Transmission Fluid

The level and quality of Transmission fluid determines the health of the transmission. Dirty or low-level of fluid can cause difficulty in shifting automatic transmission.. A low-fluid level will produce a bubbling sound.

Dirty fluid needs to be replaced immediately for the shifter to work smoothly. Clean transmission fluid is reddish in color and mostly translucent. The fluid should be flushed and replaced every 100,000 miles. Lack of lubrication can also cause rough shifting. So, check regularly to ensure the liquid is at the required level and it’s lubricating all transmission parts as expected.

Transmission Fluid Leakage

Just like oil leakage, transmission fluid leakage is bad for your vehicle. You must be keen to notice any leakage for this will affect transmission levels and cause serious mechanical problems.. Check the pan gasket and other areas occasionally to find out the cracks that could be leaking the fluid. If you notice any leak, take your vehicle to a mechanic immediately because the leak will lead to a low level of fluid and that will cause friction between transmission parts and lead to their destruction. Neglecting such a problem will cost you a great deal in repairs.

Problem with The Sensors

Unlike the old type, modern cars come with a wide range of sensors. An automatic shifter has several sensors that control how and when the transmission changes gears.
Shifting problems arise when the sensors fail to receive and send correct signals and readings from and to other parts. Difficulty in shifting could be the result of bad sensors that could be transmitting wrong signals from the engine. For instance, a malfunction in the speed sensor can mess up with the shifting timing by reporting that the vehicle’s speed is slower or faster than it actually is.

Bad Shifter Cable

Some automatic vehicles have a cable that connects the shifter handle to the transmission. This cable can stretch or break over time. As a result, the indicator needle will not line up with the gear you choose, making the vehicle slow at responding to the gear shifting.

Error Codes

All automatic cars have a digital transmission control module that stores all sorts of transmission error codes. If you can’t identify any of the problems highlighted above, take your vehicle to an experienced mechanic to analyze the error codes. Decoding them will help you to figure out the cause of hard shifting and the repair process needed.

Problem with the Vacuum Lines

Hard Automatic Transmission shifting could be as a result of a problem in the vacuum lines. Twisted or disconnected lines can force extra pressure on the transmission and make it hard for the gear to shift.

Worn out Clutch

Just like the shifter cable, the clutch of a vehicle can also wear out over time. It can deteriorate faster than usual if you are used to rough driving. Signs of a failing clutch could be a hard shifter, a soft-feeling clutch, and a burning odor.

System Malfunction

An automatic transmission is a system driven by hydraulic pressure. In case you have heard it makes some distinct noise, then that is one indication of a malfunction in the system

Component failure

An internal failure of the components like the clutch, a bearing, or another part can create grinding, and whirring noises accompanied by stiffness in shifting the lever.


All these reasons mentioned above can cause stiffness in shifting automatic transmission. We recommend that you contact an experienced mechanic when this happens to identify the root cause of this issue through a thorough inspection of the transmission and other related components. Only a professional can do a proper diagnosis and perform repairs or recommend further action.

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By Editor Car Xperts Reloaded

Car Xperts Reloaded is run by highly experienced auto-engineers and auto-bloggers with many years of motor industry workings and passionate about all things related to cars and automotive. Our goal is to provide readers with useful and interesting information, so that they can make informed decisions when purchasing or maintaining their cars. We are open to suggestions and feedback, and excited to be part of the automotive blogging community!

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