8 Symptoms of a Clogged Transmission Filter & Replacement Cost

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bad transmission filter symptoms

If you’re driving and your car suddenly starts to feel like it’s stuck in low gear, there’s a good chance that your transmission filter is clogged. This can be caused by various factors, including dirty oil, debris buildup, or even sludge.

This article will discuss what transmission filters are, how they work, and the signs of a clogged filter. We’ll also provide some tips on preventing this from happening and replacement costs.

What is a Transmission Filter? And How Does it Work?

In an automatic transmission, a transmission filter is a device that helps to remove impurities from your car’s transmission fluid. Transmission fluid helps to lubricate and cool the various moving parts inside your transmission, and over time, it can become contaminated with dirt, debris, and other foreign matter. This can lead to transmission problems, so it’s important to keep your fluid clean.

Where is the Transmission Filter Located?

The transmission filter is usually located inside the transmission pan, and it consists of a metal screen or mesh that catches any debris in the fluid. As the dirty transmission fluid flows through the filter, the impurities are trapped on the screen or in the mesh, while the clean fluid passes through to internal components.

Bad Transmission Filter Symptoms

If your transmission filter is clogged, you might notice some of the following symptoms:

  1. Check Engine Light
  2. Contaminated Transmission Fluid
  3. Slipping Clutch
  4. Compromised Car’s Performance
  5. Leaking Transmission Fluid
  6. Problems While Shifting Gears
  7. Strange Noises From Transmission Pump
  8. Burning Smell

Let us explain these symptoms a bit:

1. Check Engine Light:

If your check engine light is on, it could be for several reasons. One possibility is that your transmission filter is clogged. This will restrict the flow of transmission fluid, which can cause the transmission to slip or hesitate. The check engine light may also come on if the transmission is low on fluid.

You should check the level of transmission fluid and add more if needed. If you’re still having trouble after adding more fluid, there may be a leak in the transmission system.

2. Contaminated Transmission Fluid:

If your transmission fluid looks dirty or discolored, it’s a sign of contamination. This can happen when the filter becomes clogged and can no longer trap all the impurities in the fluid. Over time, these impurities will build up and cause problems with your transmission.

It’s important to have your transmission fluid flushed and replaced when it becomes contaminated. You should also have the filter replaced to prevent the problem from happening again.

3. Slipping Clutch:

If your car’s clutch is slipping, it could be a sign that the transmission filter is clogged. A clogged transmission filter will reduce the amount of fluid flow to the clutch, causing it to slip. If your car’s clutch is slipping and you notice that the transmission fluid level is low, you will need to have the filter replaced.

4. Compromised Car’s Performance:

A clogged transmission filter can cause your car to lose power and performance. If your car is performing poorly, has low power, or is hesitating when you try to accelerate, it’s possible that your transmission filter is clogged and needs to be cleaned or replaced.

This happens because the transmission fluid needs to flow through the filter to keep everything clean and lubricated. When the filter gets clogged, the fluid can’t circulate as it should, which causes problems with the car’s performance.

5. Leaking Transmission Fluid:

If you notice a pool of transmission fluid under your car, there is likely a leak in the system. However, if the only place you see transmission fluid is on the dipstick, it’s possible that the filter is clogged and needs to be replaced.

A clogged transmission filter can cause the fluid to back up and leak out of the dipstick tube. This is usually a sign that the filter needs to be replaced.

6. Problems While Shifting Gears:

The transmission filter may be clogged if you’re having trouble shifting gears. A clogged transmission filter will prevent the flow of transmission fluid, leading to gears that won’t shift properly. To fix this, simply replace the transmission filter.

Transmission fluid lubricates the gears and helps them move smoothly. If there’s not enough fluid, the gears will start to grind and wear down. You can remedy this by adding more transmission fluid to your car.

7. Strange Noises From Transmission Pump:

If you hear strange noises coming from the transmission pump, it’s a sign that the filter is clogged and needs to be replaced. The transmission pump is responsible for circulating the fluid through the system. When the filter is clogged, the pump has to work harder to circulate the fluid, which can cause noise.

8. Burning Smell:

If you notice a burning smell coming from your car, it’s possible that the transmission fluid is overheating. This can happen when the filter is clogged, and the fluid can’t circulate properly. Overheating can cause damage to the transmission, so it’s important to have the problem fixed as soon as possible.

The best way to avoid a clogged transmission filter is to have the fluid flushed and replaced according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. This will ensure that the fluid is clean and free of debris. You should also have the filter replaced when it becomes dirty or clogged.

How To Replace a Transmission Filter?

Replacing most transmission filters is not a difficult task, but it is important to ensure that the new filter is the same size and type as the old one. To do this, you will need to know the make and model of your car and the year it was made.

Once you have gathered this information, you can purchase a new filter from your local auto parts store. Be sure to take the old filter with you so that you can compare the two.

Installing the new filter is simply a matter of following the directions that come with it. In most cases, this will involve removing the old filter and then installing the new one in its place.

1. Park your car on a level surface and put on the parking brake.

2. Open the hood and locate the transmission dipstick.

3. Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean with a cloth or paper towel.

4. Reinsert the dipstick and pull it back out. Note the level of fluid on the stick.

5. If the fluid level is low, you can add transmission fluid to the car through the dipstick tube.

6. Place a drain pan beneath the car and locate the transmission filter.

7. Remove the bolts that hold the filter in place and carefully remove them from the car.

8. Inspect the old filter for damage and debris. If the filter is damaged or clogged, replace it.

9. Install the new filter in the car and secure it with the bolts.

10. It is important to make sure that the new filter is properly seated and that all of the seals are in place. If you do not do this, you could end up with a leaky transmission.

11. Lower the car to the ground and close the hood.

How Can You Prevent the Transmission Filter?

There are a few ways to prevent the transmission filter from becoming an issue.

1) The first is to have the filter replaced regularly. This will ensure that any dirt or debris that has been collected in the filter will be removed before it has a chance to cause problems.

2) Another way to prevent transmission filter problems is to avoid using your vehicle in dusty or dirty conditions. If you must drive in these conditions, be sure to have the filter checked and cleaned frequently.

3) Make sure that you keep the area around the filter clean so that dirt and debris cannot enter it.

4) Avoid overloading your vehicle as this can also cause the transmission filter to become clogged.

Transmission Filter Replacement Cost

The cost of replacing a transmission filter will vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle. Generally, the replacement cost will be between $100 and $200. However, some vehicles may require a more expensive transmission filter.

Always consult your owner’s manual or a certified mechanic to determine the specific replacement cost for your vehicle.


A clogged transmission filter can cause a variety of problems for your vehicle. These problems can range from minor issues to complete engine failure. It is important to have the filter replaced when it becomes dirty or clogged to avoid these issues. Additionally, you should maintain your vehicle properly and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedules. Doing so will help to prevent many common problems, including those with the transmission filter.

If you have any questions about your transmission or clogged transmission filter symptoms, be sure to consult a certified mechanic. They will be able to diagnose the problem and recommend the best course of action for your particular vehicle.

Replacing a transmission filter is a relatively inexpensive and straightforward repair. However, if the problem is not caught early, it can lead to much more expensive repairs. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of a clogged transmission filter and to have the filter replaced when necessary. Doing so will help to keep your vehicle running smoothly for many years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do manual transmission cars have transmission filters?

No, manual transmission cars typically don’t have transmission filters. The main reason is that the fluids in manual transmissions are usually much thicker than those in automatic transmissions, so they don’t need as much filtering. The other reason is that manual transmissions have fewer moving parts than automatics, so there’s less of a chance for particles to build up and cause problems.

There are a few exceptions to this rule, of course. Some older manual transmission cars did have filters, and some newer ones do as well. Check your owner’s manual or talk to your mechanic if you’re not sure whether your car has a filter. And if you do need to change the filter on your manual transmission car, it’s usually a pretty easy job.

How long should a transmission filter last?

A transmission filter should last for a certain number of miles or kilometers. The average lifespan of a transmission filter is around 30,000 miles. However, this can vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle and the type of filter used.

Always consult your owner’s manual to find the recommended replacement schedule for your specific vehicle.

How To Unclog a Transmission Filter?

If your transmission filter becomes clogged, it can cause various problems with your car’s transmission.

Luckily, it’s usually pretty easy to unclog a transmission filter. All you need is a bucket, some old rags, and a few simple tools.

The first step is to remove the transmission filter. This can vary depending on your car, but typically, either one or two bolts will hold it in place. Once the bolts are removed, you can pull the filter out.

Next, place the old rags in the bottom of the bucket. This will help protect your hands from the dirty fluid. Pour a little bit of transmission fluid into the bucket, then use the tools to loosen and remove the clog from the filter. Once the clog is removed, rinse the filter off with more transmission fluid and replace it in the car.

Make sure to check the transmission fluid level after you’ve replaced the filter, and add more if necessary. Then take your car for a test drive to make sure everything is working properly.

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