If you are looking to purchase a used car, it's natural that you would want to know if there are any problems with it before you hand over your money. However, other than having the car looked at by a mechanic, you might not know how to recognize possible trouble with the transmission before you buy it. Here are some early signs that there may be a problem.
The Fluid is Too Dark
One of the first things you can do to assess the condition of any used car's transmission is to take a look at the fluid under the hood. Locate the transmission fluid reservoir, remove the dipstick and wipe it with a clean cloth. Then, insert the dipstick again and pull it out, wiping it along another section of clean cloth. On the cloth, you should see a liquid that is bright red. Bright red fluid usually indicates that the transmission is working as it should. However, if you notice dark red or brown liquid, there could be a problem with the car's transmission; the previous owner of the car may not have had regular fluid checks and that may have caused trouble over time.
Excessive Noise in Neutral Gear
It is typically not a good sign for any car to start making strange noises. When you're test driving a used car you're thinking of buying, you may already know to pay attention to anything odd you hear. However, make sure to switch into the neutral gear, too, and pay attention to the sounds you hear. Transmission issues might manifest as a "clunk" sound or knocking sounds when the car is set in neutral gear.
Gray Tailpipe Smoke
You might not think anything about smoke coming out of the tailpipe of the used car you're test driving, but it's a good idea to pay attention to everything going on with the car so that you can notice any signs of trouble early. If you see gray smoke pouring out of the tailpipe instead of white smoke, for example, that could mean that the transmission fluid has started to leak directly onto hot engine parts and the smoke is escaping that way.
With the tips laid out here, you can train yourself to notice possible signs of trouble with the transmission of a used car before you buy it. To get a better idea of whether the car's transmission is working properly, ask a local transmission service to check it out for you. That way, you can be sure to get a used car that you're pleased with.