Troubleshooting a Faulty Transmission Filter

An automobile transmission filter can be a key factor in keeping the transmission of your car or small truck operating at maximum efficiency. This filter prevents dirt and debris from entering the transmission fluid and from adversely effecting its operation and durability. Because dirty transmission fluid can create premature breakdown and failure of transmission parts, it is vital to efficient transmission operation to maintain a clean filter. Maintaining your transmission should include recognizing and correcting problems that can cause defects and faults in your car's transmission.

Shifting Gears in Transmissions

When you feel a jerk or jolt in your car when its transmission shifts to different levels, it may be that your transmission filter has failed to prevent dirt or other contaminants from entering your transmission fluid and has damaged transmission components.

Smoke or Smells of Burning Material

Your filter can become clogged by contaminants and can prevent fluids from cooling and lubricating components of your transmission. When you detect these smells, you should check your filter and remove any buildup that may clog it.

Strange Noises

As the driver of your car you will normally become familiar with common sounds that are part of your car's operation. When you begin hearing strange or unfamiliar sounds coming from your car, you should pay attention to them. They may be warnings of wear or breakdowns of components in your car's transmission. This wearing can sometimes be caused by clogged or dirty transmission filters. Noises that are associated with uneven shifting of gears should be investigated immediately. Clanks, squeaks, and repetitive noises are among those that may be signs of transmission breakdown.


Transmission filters need to be properly fitted in place. If they are not, they can cause leaks in seals and gaskets in the transmissions. These same seals and gaskets can deteriorate or can crack and lose their sealing capabilities. In addition, the gaskets can become dislodged. All these things can cause leaking that can be observed as wet spots on the pavement where a vehicle has been parked.


If a transmission filter is doing its job, it will keep foreign particles and contaminants from the transmission fluid. Fluid in which these contaminants build up can become gritty and can cause wear on transmission components. As a result of particle buildup, transmission fluids will need to be replaced more often to keep abnormal wearing of transmission parts at a minimum.

Changing Filters

In most automatic transmissions you will find filters secured by clips, bolts, or O rings. These filters can easily be removed for inspection or replacement. First, you will need to drain the transmission fluid into a container. Then, detach the transmission pan, in which you will find the filter attached. To remove it, grasp it firmly and twist it. In examining the filter, you will typically find transmission fluid. By inspecting the color and fluidity you can often determine if the filter should be replaced. After replacing the filter, reattach the pan securely using a new gasket and tightening the bolts or clips that hold it in place.