Signs You’re Nearing Gearbox Failure

The gearbox is one of the most important pieces of equipment in a car – without one, you’re stuffed, quite frankly. Your gearbox is what stops you from crawling up a hill at 5mph while also protecting you from barrelling down the other side out of control. With its importance in mind, let Scrap Car Comparison talk you through everything you need to keep an eye on, or ear out for, when it comes to your gearbox.

If your car has decided it prefers the idea of having a box full of neutrals as opposed to the perfect synchromesh you’ve become accustomed to, then perhaps it’s time to bid farewell to your knackered set of wheels and find something newer and more reliable. With Scrap Car Comparison, you’re guaranteed only the very best price for your old car, no matter its condition – whether its gearbox has gone, its engine has expired or it just can’t hack it anymore. Simply get in touch with our friendly team of experts and they’ll scour the country for the best offer, and with collection agents dotted all over the place, we’ll even arrange for it to be taken directly from you absolutely free of charge.

A car interior, focus on the gearstick

Symptoms of Gearbox Failure

There are a wide range of noises and signs to be aware of when you’re heading towards the end of your gearbox – here’s a few of the most common to keep your eyes and ears open to:

  • Issue Selecting Gears – Quite an obvious sign that you’re having gearbox trouble is when you begin to struggle changing or selecting gears. If you’re in a manual car, this could be issues with the synchromesh, easily noticeable by the jarring, grinding sound when trying to select a gear (although this could also be user error), or a delay or rise in revs with every gear change. However, if you’re in an auto, you could find that your car is staying in a low gear for too long in a lower gear or accelerating at a lower rate than you’d expect.

If your struggles are predominantly found in first or reverse gear (and combined with noisy changes), then it could be a case of a dragging clutch, which is a relatively common fault. Additionally, if your car is slipping out of gear, that is a cue to head straight to the garage.

  • Fluid Leaks – This is one to be acutely aware of if you’re driving an automatic car – if your gear changes seem to be lacking the pace they once had, then it’s worth having a look under your car to make sure there’s no fluid leakage. What you’re looking for is either the red automatic transmission fluid or, if your oil is running low, it could be more brown or black in colour. 
  • Strange Noises – Whining, banging, clunking. All noises that you do not want to be hearing coming from your gearbox as they can all suggest serious problems on the horizon. It’s important to note that this could also be engine, drive shaft or exhaust related, so the safest bet will be to get a professional to look over the car for you. Whatever the problem is, it shouldn’t be ignored.
  • Rumbling Noises – If you hear a rumbling while you’re in neutral, that can be a sign that your transmission fluid has broken down and now needs replacing. Again, it is worth taking it to a garage to be given the once over by a pro as this could be the sign of bigger problems on the horizon.
  • Burning Smell – The smell of burning, particularly burning rubber, and smoke could be a sign of transmission issues, especially if it is combined with a fluid leak. Burnt transmission fluid can not lubricate the gearbox as well as it should, meaning more friction and, as a result, more heat within the cogs. Be aware that burning smells are also associated with other issues.
  • Dashboard Warning Lights – Finally, it goes without saying that you should keep an eye on your dashboard warning lights. They’re there for a reason and they all mean something important. While there’s no specific light for the gearbox, a number of warnings that pop up could be connected to your gearbox – the check engine light, for example, could be talking about the gearbox rather than just the power unit alone. Additionally, fluid level warnings should not be ignored, as a lack of fluid in your gearbox could lead to catastrophic consequences. In any case, if you have a warning light, do not ignore it and get it checked out as soon as possible.

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What to do if your gearbox fails

If your gearbox has failed, then you’re not going to be going very far at all. While the attention may be taken by the engine, it still needs something to convert that power into actual movement, and that’s where your gearbox comes in. Without it all of that power is just going to sit there in the engine bay and do nothing for the rest of the car.

With that in mind, you’ll be wanting to take the car to the nearest garage as soon as possible. Obviously you won’t be able to drive to the garage, and will need to arrange some form of transport there. Before you commit, however, it’s worth weighing up the cost of the repairs to the actual value of your car – if there’s not much between the two, you may find that scrapping your car is a better option overall.

Can I sell a car with a failed gearbox?

You can, but don’t expect the process to be simple. The gearbox is a key component to a car, and repairing them can be quite a pricey affair. As such, the sale value of a car that requires a gearbox repair or replacement is going to reflect the cost of the work. Why should you pay the going rate for a fully working second-hand car if you’re going to have to spend a few hundred quid on getting this one on the road?

Due to the difficulty in getting gearboxes repaired, you’ll have to be prepared to not only get a much smaller price than you would have hoped for, but expect it to take longer to sell in general. While it can take a while in general to sell a car, you’re only ever looking for someone who needs a car that matches the description of yours. When selling a broken car you’re also looking for someone with the time, money, patience and skill to be able to get it back on the road again – making your sales pool significantly smaller.

Can I scrap a car with a broken gearbox?

Of course! Here at Scrap Car Comparison, we don’t care what condition your car is in at all – we just want to get you the very best price for your car. Working with a nationwide network of scrap and salvage experts, we’re able to find an unbeatable quote for your broken vehicle, and with collection agents in all four corners of the country, we can even come and collect it directly from your door at no cost to you.

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