Automatic Transmission Shifting Hard: What Are The Causes You Need To Know!

Have you experienced any transmission problems? It’s quite annoying and frustrating, right? In fact, transmission problems are considered as among the most expensive car issues to repair. It might also lead to making your car definitely unusable and immobile.

And this is the last thing you want to happen, right? Automatic transmission shifting hard might only be one of the transmission problems you can face.

See more: Transmission Cooler Lines Leaking at Radiator: What You Need To Know?

So, better yet, always be cautious about the transmission your car especially if it’s an automatic one.

What is automatic transmission?

Transmissions might be of two types, manual or automatic.

But, we will focus on automatic transmission in this article. Well, automatic transmissions are considered to be a mystery to most people. Most mechanics will quickly tackle the timing belt job or the head gasket replacement, however, with regards to transmission matters, even the most seasoned mechanics might shy away.


Once they work correctly, we might not think about them knowing that they are automatic. And when they don’t properly work, it is definitely annoying and worse might leave you stranded.

This type of transmission uses a planetary gear system to transfer power as well as to create different gear ratios along with a reverse option. This planetary gear set has its single center gear or a large ring gear around having internal teeth and many small gears between the ring and center gears.


There are usually two sets of gear systems in an automobile transmission. And this arrangement will allow for a variety of gear ratios which could be shifted a lot easier. However, once a part of this system fails, the entire system could be inoperable. So, automatic transmission shifting hard might lead you to this worse scenario.

Nevertheless, the same with other problems in your vehicle, there are also early warning signs that will let you know if the automatic transmission is about to fail. And you have to understand the causes of automatic transmission shifting hard.

What causes automatic transmission shifting hard?

And to correctly deal with automatic transmission shifting hard issue, knowing the reasons behind could indeed help a lot.

Here are the causes:

​Transmission Fluid:

You have to check the transmission fluid. Once the transmission is low on fluid, or once the fluid is discolored and old, it could be due to hard shifting. This hard shifting can happen due to a lack of lubrication in the transmission.


This fluid must be reddish in color and also should be mostly transparent. If the issue is about the transmission fluid, then a good product like this one could stop any transmission leaks.

Motor Honey C155-12 Premium Power Steering Honey with Leak Stopper, 14 fl. oz.

Source: Amazon.com

​Vacuum Problems:

Automatic transmission hard shifting might be due to problems with the vacuum lines. Disconnected, clogged or bent vacuum lines could affect the pressure in the transmission and might lead to rough shifting.

​Sensor Problems:

These days, vehicles are equipped with a wide assortment of sensors that include those which control when and how the transmission of the car shifts. Once the sensor is not receiving the right readings and signals, it leads to shifting issues. Hard shifting might be due to a slow sensor or with the one that transmits the wrong signals from the engine. With a faulty speed sensor, the car could run more slowly or a lot more quickly than it is.


​Error Codes:

Transmission error codes are stored by the transmission control module. Once having a hard time diagnosing automatic transmission shifting hard issue, you might take the car to a transmission service mechanic then have these error codes read. The said codes must give you an excellent idea whether the transmission is into shifting hard along with how it could be fixed or repaired.

Helpful Notes to Bear in Mind

You also need to be wary of other signs associated with the issue of automatic transmission shifting hard.

Indeed, automatic transmissions might make distinct noises once there is a malfunction. Since it is a hydraulic pressure driven system, it could make different noises compared to manual ones.

Once the transmission filter becomes clogged because of debris, then a whirring noise might be heard. In a case of a low fluid level, a bubbling sound that is produced by the pump scavenging fluid inside the transmission pan is produced. In this case, you only need to add fluid such as the BlueDevil Transmission Sealer.

BlueDevil Transmission Sealer

Source: Amazon.com

​Most of the internal failures might be due to a bearing, hard part or clutch failure. If such failures happen to the transmission, it could make a whirring, grinding sound or no noise at all. If the transmission has a major problem, a loud pop that means a drive component in the transmission has failed will be heard.

​Final Thoughts

So, if you have this automatic transmission shifting hard, the first thing you need to do is to check for the causes of the problem. After that, you’ll definitely know what to do next. Again, transmission problems could be a headache and could ruin your pocket too.


So, better be aware of the early signs before these problems become hard to deal with already.How did you find the article? If you have more queries or any suggestions, feel free to leave your comments below.

Thank you!


Hi there! I’m Jordan, chief editor of Crush the Road and I’m a self-confessed automative fanatic. Cars or vehicles has always been a passion of mine and will always be my favorite pastime. Now that I am married and has one adorable son, I have the time to write and share my personal experiences with other automative enthusiasts like me. Welcome to my fantastic blog!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Avatar for Trish
Trish - June 18, 2019

I have a 2006 GMC envoy four-wheel-drive. The vehicle has 170,000 miles on it and for quite some time now after has time to warm up the shift from 1st to 2nd gear is quite rough after that it is smooth. Any ideas? Thanks

Avatar for ronald julian
ronald julian - December 20, 2020

hi there the problem is while driveing the transmision after warm starts to change gears quickly and you can feel the hard hite and sound


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