Automatic Transmission Grinding Noise When Put In Gear – Causes & Solutions

As a car owner, you’ll agree that there’s almost nothing more troubling and frustrating than automatic transmission grinding noise when shifting gears. The transmission may make several noises when shifting gears. These noises include rattling, whining, grinding, and clunking noise when shifting gears or accelerating.

Most times, any transmission noises indicate a severe underlying transmission problem. A mechanic should track where these noises are coming from and proffer solutions before they escalate to total transmission failure.

This article will discuss the causes of automatic transmission noise when put in gear. We’ll also look at how to rectify them.

What Causes Automatic Transmission Grinding Noise When Put In Gear

There should be minimal noise when you shift your transmission to gear. The transmission should shift easily and run smoothly. If the transmission grinds when it is in gear, you have a problem that needs urgent attention. Therefore, if you’re asking, ‘why is my automatic transmission grinding?’ Here are the possible causes.

transmission noise at low speed

Clutch problems

Does it sound surprising that clutch problems may cause grinding noise when shifting from park to drive in automatic tranny? You don’t have to be surprised. Automatic transmissions have clutch systems like their manual counterparts.

In manual transmissions, you have to operate the clutch manually. But in automatic transmissions, the clutch system works automatically. If any issues occur with the clutch system, your automatic transmission will malfunction. It can also grind when you put the transmission in gear.

Faulty torque converter

Automatic transmissions shift the gears automatically with the help of the torque converter and planetary gear system as the driver accelerates or decelerates the engine. If you hear automatic transmission grinding noise when accelerating, it’s seems coming from the transmission.

It could be from the torque converter itself. The grinding noise may also be prominent when backing up the vehicle. That’s another sign to watch out for.

Gear system problems

There’s a likelihood that something is damaged between the gears and several components that enable the gear shifting. If your car makes a grinding noise when put in gear and won’t move, you have a gear system problem.

Here, the grinding noise may appear occasionally. It may only happen when shifting between two specific gears.

Inadequate transmission fluid

Automatic transmission bearing noise could be a result of low transmission fluid. Inadequate fluid will not properly lubricate reciprocating transmission components.

It’ll cause the transmission to make grinding noise depending on the fluid level. In case of a transmission fluid leak, the grinding noise will intensify as the fluid level drops.

Other faulty internal transmission components

A transmission unit comprises several components. If any of them are damaged, it may cause a grinding noise. A certified mechanic needs to disassemble the tranny to track the cause of the noise.

Whether the transmission emits grinding noise in 1st and 2nd gear or all gear levels, faulty internal transmission components can be the culprit.

Now, you may ask, ‘will grinding gears ruin a transmission?’ Grinding gears will cause metal shaving in the transmission and eventually wear out the gears. It may also cause catastrophic damages to other internal tranny system components.

What’s next? Let’s look at how to fix transmission grinding noise.

How To Fix Automatic Transmission Grinding Noise

 An automatic transmission is a complex vehicle component that keeps the vehicle moving. When it fails, DIY skills may not fix it. An expert auto mechanic needs to diagnose and repair or replace faulty parts.

As mentioned above, grinding noise in automatic transmission signifies an underlying problem that needs urgent attention. The moment you notice a grinding noise from your transmission, get it fixed by an ASE-certified mechanic as soon as possible.

However, before consulting your mechanic, check the transmission fluid level. If the fluid is below the recommended level, find out what could be the cause. Check if there are transmission fluid leaks.

If you determine a leak in the tranny, get it fixed. Read this article for a detailed guide on the symptoms, causes, and how to fix a transmission fluid leak. If the fluid is below the recommended gauge and there’s no leak, top it until it gets to the specified level.

When topping a transmission fluid, ensure you use the manufacturer’s specified oil. Using the wrong oil type may cause transmission slippage and other tranny issues.

grinding noise in 1st and 2nd gear


Q: What does it mean when your transmission is grinding?

Transmission grinding noise is an indication of underlying tranny issues. The clutch systems are not properly disengaging or engaging from the engine. It can happen for many reasons, which we’ve outlined above. In manual tranny, it could be bad driving habits.

Q: Can low transmission fluid cause grind?

Transmission fluid differs from engine oil, which requires constant changes. However, they perform the same cooling and lubricating purposes.

The tranny unit is a complex and integral component of a vehicle. It transmits engine power to the wheels for the vehicle to move. The tranny fluid should be at the recommended level throughout its lifespan.

A good functioning transmission will shift between gears smoothly and offer a seamless driving experience. Low transmission fluid will cause the gears to miss, which will cause a grinding noise.

Q: Why does my transmission grind when I put it in reverse?

Misaligned gears cause a typical grinding noise when shifting to reverse. If it happens occasionally, it means the transmission has not fully disengaged from the engine, and the gears are still spinning. A quick trick to avoid it is to shift to drive before shifting to reverse.

Poor tranny lubrication, worn gears, or other internal issues can also cause it. The moment you notice grinding gears in reverse, check your tranny fluid and ensure it’s on the right level.

Q: What do grinding gears feel like?

A grinding gear is an unpleasant and troubling sound, for sure. It feels awful and embarrassing when you hear a grinding noise from the gears. It affects the overall transmission performance and poses more danger to the gears.

Q: What happens when you grind gears?

Grinding gears happens when a driver tries to change gears without the clutch or without fully engaging the clutch. When you grind your gears, it does not affect the clutch as far as you don’t slip the clutch. It’ll only have normal wear. However, you’re damaging or ruining the Synchro-mesh.

Final Words

At this juncture, we’ve explained the causes and solutions to automatic transmission grinding noise when put in gears. Whenever you hear a grinding noise from the transmission or feel the gears are slipping, check the fluid level.

If you have adequate transmission fluid, consider driving down to a mechanic garage as soon as possible. It may be time for a routine transmission service, or you have a faulty tranny component that needs replacement.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

2 thoughts on “Automatic Transmission Grinding Noise When Put In Gear – Causes & Solutions

  1. Hey Grant,

    Clean the oil filter in the tranny and see if that will solve the problem.

    However, have you checked the universal joints on the propeller? That could be the culprit.

    Don’t forget to keep me updated on your progress.

  2. Thanks for the article, my auto sounds like a bad wheel baring when it gets up to 60-65ks, ?
    Any additives help? I changed the oil but now
    Maybe drop the pan n clean it all out..
    Subaru 2004 outback

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