First of all, thank you for running such an informative site! Thanks for your time and consideration – I appreciate it very much. I’ve perused many of your questions, but haven’t found one yet that is close enough to my situation.
Here is some history. My car is a 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix, 110,000 miles, from up north (hard winters) just got new rotors, brake pads, and a catalytic converter. The check engine light has been on for over a year, but my mechanic friend has tried several fixes for it and thinks it’s possibly related to an O2 sensor or hose because it throws a gas cap code (I’ve been through a few new gas caps to no avail). That problem has been back burnered until I can afford to have it checked out, but now a new, more serious problem has begun.
My car is making a grinding noise when I step on the gas and it’s been doing this for about 3 weeks. Not the squeaking noise from worn break pads, grinding just related to stepping on the gas. It seems like it’s coming in and out of gear too – if I’m trying to get up speed going up a hill it hesitates pretty badly and does it most the time now – like each hill I’m on. It doesn’t kick into drive right away. It’s gotten worse in the last couple of weeks. The RPMs go up to like 3 or so, the grinding noise when stepping on the gas, then it will all of a sudden kick into gear/lurch forward.
I know that I’m due for transmission fluid (it’s mentioned whenever I get an oil change, haven’t had money to do all that). My car is also leaking oil, and has been for about a month. What type of shop do I need to go to, and what should I watch out for? I try to take very good care of my car – regular oil changes and fix things as they come up, but now it seems like a whole lot to deal with and I don’t even know where to start.
I know nothing about cars, this is the first car I’ve ever had, and I recently relocated down south so I don’t have a lot of friends and family to help me with this. I’m leery of taking it to the dealership for help because the last one I went to seemed very dishonest and I had multiple problems from the repairs. It just didn’t feel right.
I hope this makes sense, thank you for your time, and God bless you!
Well hello there Rachel,
Thanks for your kind words and glad my site was helpful to you. From what you tell me I would suspect you have an internal transmission problem. FIRST have someone check the transmission fluid level and top off as needed. Being low on transmission fluid could be the problem. You can service the transmission and replace the fluid and the filter BUT, BUT you take a chance at making things worse as you remove the gritty dirty fluid that has some friction to it with clean smooth fluid with no friction.
You are taking a chance at making things worse by doing that but if the fluid is full now and you still have this trouble, a service is probably what the transmission shop is going to recommend next. Just be aware and prepared for a transmission overhaul if the problem gets worse or stays the same. There is not much more you can do without removing and tearing into the transmission. And with 110K miles, I would be prepared for the worst case scenerio which is a complete overhaul.
If you have an AAMCO transmission shop in your area, I would recommend you talk to them. They are a national chain, and carry a national warranty. Some dealerships do not overhaul transmissions there, they send them out to be overhauled so you might want to ask your local dealer for a price quote on an overhaul and if they do it there or sub it out somewhere else….then call them directly.
If you don’t plan on keeping this car much longer you MIGHT want to get a price on a used transmission from a local junk yard and get your local mechanic to install it. You can sometimes buy a warranty from the junk yard as well. I would only recommend this if you are strapped for cash and dont want to keep the car much longer since you have no idea the condition of the used transmission. I have installed many used transmissions and had a few bad ones, but just a few. So if you are willing to take a gamble, it might be an option.
Keep me posted.
Reader Follow up
Thank you so much for your help! I went to AutoZone this weekend and they helped me check the transmission fluid level – it was down 3 quarts…. I had no idea. They added it for me and I drove around a lot this weekend. It’s driving much better – no more coming in and out of gear or hesitating on hills.
I plan on keeping this car as long as I can, so I’ll catch up with the other repairs soon. I need to figure out why it’s leaking oil and what to do about that gas cap code/check engine light next. I will also start checking my transmission fluid level…
Thank you again for your quick and detailed response, I really appreciate it!
Blessings and thanks,
Hello again Rachel,
The transmission fluid leak should be your TOP priority. Those 3 quarts of fluid leaked out somewhere! 🙁
So you think it’s transmission fluid leaking not oil?? I asked them that at AutoZone and they seemed to think the 3 quarts was normal and that it probably was leaking oil not transmission fluid – just evaporating since it runs hot… OK well then I need to just take it to a transmission place ASAP and figure out what exactly is leaking, how the transmission is looking, and what I need to have done… Thank you!! Rachel
You really should never have to add transmission fluid. 3 quarts is HUGE, yes you have a big leak from the transmission….and maybe not from the engine.
Reader Follow up
I am relieved to tell you the leak is being taken care of now. I went to AAMCO this morning and they did a free tran scan. This is what they told me:
– there is a small engine oil leak, they said it’s OK to wait on that because it will be rather expensive to fix (they have to move the transmission to get to it they said).
– there is a lower pan gasket leak; where the transmission fluid is leaking from. They agreed it is a pretty significant leak, and they said they could see some fluid on the back of the car from where it’s splashing up while driving.
– it needs a tune up: plugs, wires, fuel filter, etc…
– they scanned the check engine light and it was for the gas cap. I bought a new one at the dealership today so I guess I’ll see what happens with that from here.
So the transmission needs to be serviced, fix the leak, do a tune up. I’m very grateful I don’t need a transmission, and so happy for your help and input because now I know what’s causing this leak and what to do about it. They said the transmission work and tune up will be $510.11 plus tax (filter, pan gasket, service, fluid.. trying to read their notes, they made of copy of it for me). I’m getting all that done tomorrow.
Thank you again, so much!
That is awesome, price seems fair and glad you took care of the issue.