Signs of a bad transmission on your Kia

By Product Expert | Posted in How To's on Monday, November 20th, 2017 at 7:09 pm
two young mechanics working

A messed-up transmission can be an overlooked maintenance problem, often because many people don’t recognize the signs of it. If you notice gears grinding or a burning smell, it hopefully goes without saying that you should call a mechanic. You might not know what a bad transmission sounds like, but it can be easily identified by a professional. Keep reading to learn some warning signs you should look for. 

You might also like: How to change headlights 

Signs you should get your transmission looked at 

A damaged transmission is as dangerous and serious as just about any car problem. If your vehicle racks up enough miles, it will eventually need a transmission repair job. The sooner you can recognize the following warning signs, the better it will be for your car and your wallet. 

1.) Uneasy gear shifting 

Gears are directly integrated with the transmission. Some shifting problems include falling out of gear, gears shifting on their own, and gears jerking when being shifted. 

2.) Gear grinding 

When changing gears, you shouldn’t really hear anything except maybe the engine’s hum. If you hear or feel grinding or shaking, that’s definitely not good. It could also be a sign of a bad clutch if you have a manual transmission. Nevertheless, bring your car right away if you notice this. 

Schedule a test drive of one of our Kia models. 

3.) Buzzing and clunking 

A common indication of transmission trouble is unusual noise. If your car is especially loud when in neutral or park, it’s likely a transmission problem. There are other problems that can cause similar noises, but they shouldn’t be ignored. 

4.) Cloudy or burnt transmission fluid 

Transmission fluid is usually bright red. If your fluid has a dark, opaque look to it, that’s an ominous sign of bigger trouble. Bad fluid can also have a burning smell. 

5.) Leaking transmission fluid 

Like oil, you can spot transmission fluid on your driveway or your garage floor if it is leaking. It’s an easy fix, and it’s not necessarily an immediate death sentence for your car. However, if gone untreated, a transmission fluid leak can cause big problems. 

inside look of a transmission
inside a car's transmission

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31 Responses to “Signs of a bad transmission on your Kia”

  1. Matthew Nicholas says:

    Driving with a flawed or damaged transmission could be very dangerous, hence the condition of various components of the transmission needs to be evaluated at a regular interval and if damaged should be repaired or replaced in appropriate time. <a href=””Such evaluations should be carried out by professionals. Transmission oil plays very important role because it provide a proper lubrication to the transmission components. So, if we fail to provide adequate amount of transmission fluid, the transmission could not perform properly. Hence the quantity and quality of transmission oil should be evaluated on a daily basis and if necessary should be replaced with suitable alternatives.

  2. Matthew Nicholas says:

    Driving with a flawed or damaged transmission could be very dangerous, hence the condition of various components of the transmission needs to be evaluated at a regular interval and if damaged should be repaired or replaced in appropriate time. Such evaluations should be carried out by professionals. Transmission oil plays very important role because it provide a proper lubrication to the transmission components. So, if we fail to provide adequate amount of transmission fluid, the transmission could not perform properly. Hence the quantity and quality of transmission oil should be evaluated on a daily basis and if necessary should be replaced with suitable alternatives.

  3. Bennie says:

    My Kia Sportage was driving nicely. Sudenly i heard a noice and stopped the car. I smell burning clutch plate and i start the car. The car don’t want to move and makes a huge noice. Gears also locked.

  4. Molly watson says:

    Transmission is an important part of the vehicle and plays significant role in the performance of the vehicle. So, it needs maintenance at a regular interval like other components of the vehicle to ensure smoother performance of the vehicle. Appearance of abnormal signs should not be underestimated and suitable steps should be taken to prevent any kind of irreparable damage. Apart from this, lubricant used in the vehicle should be inspected properly and replacement of degraded transmission oil is also essential.

  5. Kacie Goodman says:

    Transmission is an important part of a car and we shouldn’t neglect in it’s maintenance. Transmission problems are generally of five types. These are transmission slipping, fluid leaking from the transmission, illumination of transmission warning light, rough shifting of gears, delay in starting and moving the vehicle. If any of these warning signs is noticed in the car we must take it to a trusted and certified auto repair shop for repair of it’s transmission. For this you may refer to:

  6. Patrice Finn says:

    When I shut off my 2016 Kia Sorento I am getting a message on my Navigation screen saying Paking Location Tranmission failed. Under that is the message that says Phone not connected. The car is not rolling in park and I havent noticed any problems with shifting but it feels like car is not shutting down correctly like it did in the past. What could this be?

  7. efe says:

    Please i have a kia cerato 2009 model, i have changed the automatic transmission gear still it is locked up on 3, that was the same issue i had with the first one b4 i changed it…i dont know what else to do if i should check the brain box

  8. cyndy martinez says:

    my kia sorento was driving fine…. sounds great…. smooth. Once in a while there is the tiniest of hiccup when accelerating and the gears are changing. Just enough that I can feel it. but again, no problem…..Last night, big hiccups, no acceleration on the highway twice, then driving home, slow staedy loss of compression and acceleration. I crawled at 10 mph for 5 mile to get off highway and got towed home. No Check engine light… nothing on dash lit up. starts fine and sounds perfect while running. was able to drive on tow truck ramp and back off……..I am baffled

  9. Alicia T Frazier says:

    Mine is doing the same thing wonder what it is.

  10. David Mackay says:

    I have a Kia Spectra 1998 model.
    While driving it suddenly went into gear 2 or 3. I parked the vehicle and in a few days I started the car and it worked perfectly for about 2 week. Then suddenly, I felt a big hiccup and it went into gear 3.
    What should I do ?

  11. My 2011 Kia Sportage petrol has done 143000 kilometers and has been serviced on time . How often should the automatic transmission fluid be changed ?

  12. Hi please advise are there any reprograms or update software for trans slight flare or slip on trans upshifts ?

  13. Phumlani says:

    My Kia SportAge Automatic 4wd 2006 is flicking a green light for the diffs on a dashboard and its not changing gears automatically and i have to change it manually + and – revs are too low it drops the speed when it reach 140km/h

  14. Elmoiz Abdalla Elamin says:

    Kia Sorento 3.5l done 168000km, transmission oil changed in 150000km, delay of 4 to 5 seconds to response when shifting from P to R or N to R. please help

  15. Rona Perymon says:

    My 2017 Kia Sorento slips out of gear intermittently. While driving, it will go into 1st gear, and one time, 2nd. This is while accelerating into the highway, pulling out of a parking lot, or simply driving down the street (40-50mph). My car isn’t even 2 years old, and I’ve complained about this within the 1st month.

    I also attempted to take a trip to my hometown in Ohio; from North Carolina, where I live (7 hr drive).
    While driving through the mountains, 77 N, my car stopped accelerating and there was a strong smell of gas. My speed kept declining, and there was nowhere to stop. Luckily there was a travel station a little more than a mile away. I costed into the travel station, and got the car towed to the nearest dealership, where they found a problem with the fuel injectors. After about a week, they fixed it and thankfully had the car towed back to me.

    My car also (within 30 days of purchasing it), popped out of gear while parked in my driveway (on a slight hill). I ran into the house for a few mins and left my 25 year old daughter in the car. She was in the passenger seat, on Instagram, and said that she heard a loud pop and it felt like another car hit it. She looked up, and the Car started rolled by back. She quickly tried to get her seatbelt off, and opened the door, by that time, the car had already made contact with the neighbors (across from me) mailbox. She hurt her arm, as the front passenger door caught the mailbox. The whole passenger side of my car was scraped up, leaving the front door crunched in the opposite direction (unable to close). My daughter came in the house frantically, ad told me what happened, in tears and fear. I ran outside to retrieve my car from the neighbors driveway, and SHIFTED it out of PARK, then drive it back into my driveway. The KIA dealership where I purchased it from (JT KIA, Rick Hill) had it towed there, but claim to have found nothing.

    This leaves me feeling very scared, unsafe, and concerned for my life, and my 4 year old that I drive around everyday. I hope that Kia resolves this issue, as to prevent any hurt, harm, losses to us. I am documenting everything I can, to keep record of this.

    What if we are at an intersection, or there’s oncoming traffic; cars or semi trucks?

    Hopefully Kia will come up with some sort of resolve, I know I’ve done my part in documenting my concerns.

  16. Philip Backman says:

    My Kia Soul 2019 with 1500 miles, when going at a constant speed and attempt to accelerate (like passing a car) the tac goes way up and the engine revs up but no response by the car, I took it to the dealership and they blame it on a chip that is learning how I drive (felt like I needed boots) the technician said that when you accelerate it may need to down shift a few gears to give you the torque you need to accelerate. That would be fine if it shifted, but I find that it just revs up and I let off the accelerator, then try again and it revs up again, I have to ease into it, not good for confidence in passing. any opinions?

  17. Robert K. says:

    My 2013 Optima Hybrid, I purchased 3 years ago had a engine failure where the 3 piston rod goes through the engine, this happening was re-called on “2013 non hybrid” models but not my model. $5800K later with a new engine (Kia customer relations gave me a $1K check to say sorry it took so long to replace the engine) and only 1 week out of the shop all the dash lights come on and the car wont start. Wait 1 min it starts. Drove like that for 2 days and brought it in. The hybrid battery was bad. $500 to fix. 1 month goes by and my warning light comes on “again, like the battery scenario” after trying to accelerate from a stop light (in a normal speed and driving conditions) and the system dash lights come on and but this time tells me to find a safe place to park as I lose complete power. Crawling at 2-4 mph i pull over. Thinking these warning lights and new electronic systems are a pain…get the car towed to the dealership and they said is a complete transmission failure and want $3600 to fix. SUPER SUPER DISAPPOINTED and questioning Kia’s integrity, trust is lost. Bad feeling. My wife and I are completely baffled. Tried to find any posts on having a new engine put in and then a mystery transmission failure but cant. There was no warning signs. Confused and broke…

  18. Blessing says:

    My Kia Cerato 2011 has just started making a horrible humming sound from the engine whenever it gets to the pick of 60km/p. I wonder what is causing this.

  19. Kingsley Boateng says:

    please I have a problem with my Kia Rio over floor and I don’t know how to make it so please I need help ,the Kia Rio I am talking about is 16v

  20. ichigo says:

    so many kia got problem stuck 3rd to..not gearbox problem or solenoid shift..but ecu problem..until now im seaching second ecu dont have anyone now where to got its..need second no repair inside the brain..mostly after repair cost rm1200 just 3 month and my forte stuck again at 3rd gear..after thats buy a second or halfcut ecu just 5 month and again my forte stuck at 3rd gear..some workshop open the ecu its have reapair to…OMG…and WTF!!..the halfcut ecu its rm2400 just 5 ecu no its b203..i ask the kia centre need to rm5600k but the warranty just 1 month….frusteddd…

  21. Andries Dlamini says:

    My Kia Cerato has a problem of selecting the gear especially when I drive for a long distance but when I drive it locally it select the gear normally I put the transmission oil but the problem still persist. Please help me .

    Kind regards
    Mr Dlamini M.A

  22. Tomás says:

    Tengo un kia sportage 2014 la transmisión automática hace un zumbido cada vez que hace un cambio. Cada vez se hace más fuerte el ruido.

  23. BRUCE ARNER says:

    If its not making noise, and just not shifting rite, probably just dirty shift solenoids, and its best to replace them, dont waste your time trying to test and clean them, you can find them online for under $75.00

  24. Chris Tuggs says:

    Kia Picanto 2012 Auto Transmission moving gear from park to reverse makes a loud jerking sound…. when engage drive, the vehicle crawl slowly for 5 seconds then pick up speed. Fault code P0 748 saying electrical Pressure Control Solenoid….. Could this be a faulty ECU? or just replace the PCS valves?

  25. P. Kapoor says:

    I have KIA Sedona SX 2019 which is giving jerk at slow speed in lower gears. This happens especially when I start the car in the morning. Took it to dealership 3 times, who updated the computer and also reset the transmission. Still the problem persists.

  26. Ladonnabu says:

    My car keeps dying when we pull it into gear. Sometimes it runs great, but then all of a sudden it will keep dying.

  27. Alin Neculai Galatanu says:

    I have a Kia Rio ecoD 2013 and start to be weard about driving… I.m in3 gear and sometime in board show 3 gear and make a noise like I.m in first one…after 2 days first in 6 …and the computer again some select the 6 one..and make very but drive like I.m was in 4..with hight speed…looks like shifting wailing driving’s my clutch problem…or my transmission control module?? Seems like change right to left willing driving. Anyone the same problem in Kia Rio 2013? Manual transmission

  28. Beth says:

    We are having the same exact issues. We also took it to the dealership for a computer update and transmission reset and it’s still being problematic. We’re you able to get it resolved?

  29. Thandiwe Plaatjies says:

    I have the same Kia Rio 2013, manual transmission. when I am in gear 2, the board will show me I have to select gear 2. This has been happening for about a week. Were you able to get it resolved?

  30. Jens Nielsen says:

    I bort in june 2019 an Kia Sportage diesel 2005 (153.000km) with manual transmission. I’m at least 3’rd owner.
    (in 2016 it got a ‘new’ 213.000km engine)
    My problem: The slave cylinder (clouth) was leaking, and when the clouth was pressed down ready to go in 1. gear, the car was rollng just enugh so I could see it on the suroundings. It was uneasy to get into 1, 2-gear etc or reverse.
    The slave cylinder is now replaced, also: the pin and the leaver (have been broken….) -it was worn with 0-holes (oval) not o-holes round.
    We have pumped air out of the slave cylinder. But the gear is still not accessable. What can be the case here?

  31. Matt says:

    Last night when I got off the interstate it was running fine and then I got on the exit ramp and it’s mine as I decelerate it it started clunking from the front end I replaced all the axles everything on that the front end except for the transmission

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