Are Problems Growing Inside Your Vehicle’s Torque Converter?

Inside each automatic transmission system is a component that looks like a doughnut. This torque converter is one of the key parts and allows your vehicle to shift automatically between gears. It's a hardy device but does need some careful attention from time to time if it is to do its job without fail. Regular maintenance is crucial, but how do you know if you have a problem, and what can you do to prevent it?

Inside the Depths

Within the torque converter are clutches that spin at great speed and direct automatic transmission fluid from one point of the system to the next. This device relies on centrifugal force and consistent pressure levels, or issues quickly begin to materialise.

Signs of a Problem

If you have a problem with the torque converter, you will notice this immediately. The vehicle will feel more sluggish than usual, and you may detect a defined gap between the moment you press your foot on the accelerator and forward motion. You may also notice that the vehicle shifts between gears when it ordinarily would not. The internal clutches may begin to slip, so the engine noise is higher than the corresponding road speed. In the worst-case scenario, your vehicle will not shift gears at all, and the entire system may begin to overheat. Your dashboard temperature gauge will alert you, and you may get a "check engine" light requiring further diagnosis.

Other Tell-Tale Signs

When the pressure levels inside the torque converter are high, the fluid may begin to leak if the rubber seals and o-rings are damaged. Spots of oil beneath the transmission casing could give you an early warning of this issue and may be an indicator that you should schedule a service.

Hidden Problems Ahead

Due to the design of the torque converter, some of the transmission fluid may remain in place as soon as you turn off the engine. Ordinarily, this is not a problem, but you cannot easily drain this fluid during a routine service visit. This means that some "old" fluid will remain in place and will therefore be mixed in with its replacement. Some of that old fluid could contain contamination which could cause issues elsewhere in this scenario.

Your Best Approach

Turn to a professional to ensure that your transmission system works as intended and that your torque converter is always in good condition. They will have a special machine that can remove the fluid from the torque converter while cleaning the interior at the same time. In other words, they will do a thorough job that should help avoid future problems. 

For more information about automatic transmissions, contact a local mechanic.