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The transmission in any car is what controls how much power goes to wheels. Whether you have a manual or automatic transmission, it is going to respond to the shifting of the gears. In a manual transmission, it is helpful to think of the process as that of changing gears in a bicycle, except there is not a chain. When you engage the clutch to change gears, the engine and the transmission are momentarily disconnected. They will then reconnect after you have put your car into a new gear and give the appropriate amount of power to the wheels to keep your car in motion.

A car with an automatic transition is going to shift the gears for you. There is not a clutch you control, but your car will adjust gears as it responds to your driving. For example, if you are accelerating onto a highway, then your vehicle is going to change to a higher gear to accommodate the need for more power and speed. The automatic transmission is also going to do the opposite, change your car into a lower gear when you beginning to slow down.

So what happens when you start to feel shuddering or shifting becomes harsh or jerky? There are a few causes of this and being able to identify them will allow you to know when you need to bring your car in for servicing before the issue gets worse.


The first cause of shifting harshness and shuddering you will want to investigate is low fluid levels. In order to work properly and smoothly, the transmission needs to have the proper amount of fluid. Different car manufacturers have different recommendations for when you should change or replace the transmission fluid. It could be anywhere from 30,000 miles to 100,000 miles. Your car manual will have the amount of miles in which you need to change the fluid.

When checking the fluid levels you will want to pay attention to two things. The first thing is making sure you are using the proper dipstick. Under the hood of your car, there will be two different dipsticks; one is the dipstick for checking the oil level and the other is the dipstick for checking the transmission fluid. The second thing to look at is going to be the color of the fluid. Transmission fluid is normally a pink or red color that you can see through. If the amount is low on the dipstick, then you know that you need more fluid. If the color is darker, closer to a rust color, then you know that the gears are experiencing more wear and tear than normal, and you should get your vehicle to a qualified mechanic.


The transmission filter is responsible for picking up any dirt or debris that may have gotten caught in the transmission fluid. If the filter goes an extended period of time without being changed, it could get clogged. With the filter clogged, there will be more pressure and strain on the pump because it now has to work harder to pull the fluid from the pan. This will then cause the pump to wear out and air will get mixed in with the fluid. The air in the fluid will mean that the operating pressure of the transmission will be thrown off, causing for the car to shift harshly and shudder.


Knowing the causes behind a car shifting harshly or shuddering is going to help you in understanding what needs to be done to stop the problem. Because transmissions are such complicated parts, you should take your car into a professional technician as soon as you begin to experience shifting harshness and shuddering.

Fast Lane European, located in San Jose, CA, is happy to help you with any transmission problems you might have. With skilled technicians that focus on BMWsMINIs, and Volvos, you can be certain that they know how to properly identify the true cause of any shuddering your car may be experiencing. Our technicians will use the proper diagnostic equipment to pinpoint the issue and then discuss with you the options you have. Once a solution has been agreed upon, our technicians will ensure that you are back on the road in a reasonable amount of time without sacrificing our service quality.