Smell Something Burning? 7 Most Common Transmission Issues and How to Diagnose Them

Figuring out what could be wrong with your Land Rover based on sights, smells and even sounds can be difficult, especially if you don’t have a background in mechanical work. Cars work similarly to the human body. While a symptom like chest pain may indicate you are having a heart attack, when this symptom is combined with another, like trouble breathing, it may mean something entirely different is wrong, like an asthma attack. Understanding what mechanical systems may be at fault means you have to look at the bigger picture- and every symptom that could lead you to the problematic car part.

When it comes to a Land Rover’s transmission, there are many Land Rover parts within this complex mechanical system that could be at fault. The transmission experiences wear and tear after a while, just like any other part of the car, but some parts of the transmission may be more susceptible than others. If you’re experiencing transmission problems, but aren’t sure whether the clutch, a fluid leak or a worn-out gear is the problem, consider the symptoms the car is experiencing carefully to correctly diagnose the issue.


Common Transmission Problems and Symptoms


Not Responding

One of the most common symptoms Land Rover owners experience with their transmission is a lack of response. The car might refuse to go when it’s placed in gear or hesitate. This problem occurs in both manual and automatic transmissions. In automatics, the gear may feel as if it takes a moment to properly engage when shifting into drive or park. The problem here is often transmission-based.

In manual transmissions, the engine may seem like it’s racing, but the car may not match its enthusiasm. You may seem the RPMs surge when you hit the accelerator, but the Land Rover may only creep along. In this case, the problematic car part is likely the clutch. Replacing this Land Rover part generally solves the issue. If it doesn’t, a more serious problem could be occurring inside the transmission and a mechanic may be needed to solve it.



This symptom is often the most easy to diagnose. Transmission fluid is bright red and smells sweet. You can often smell the odour as you’re driving or see the effects of the leak on the driveway as you pull away from home. Transmission fluid is what the transmission runs on. It cleans and lubricates the seals within the car part. When a lack of transmission fluid occurs, the engine can seize up and stop working.

Finding the leak can be difficult, especially if it’s a small one. If you check the transmission fluid levels, however, and the fluid is low, a leak has occurred. Unlike engine oil, this fluid isn’t used up or burned up as your Land Rover runs. If you find the leak and are able to patch it, the transmission should operate properly afterwards. If you don’t have the expertise or have trouble locating the leak, top off the transmission fluid and get the Land Rover to a mechanic who can help before your engine or other Land Rover parts are damaged.


Shaking or Grinding

Have a Land Rover with a manual transmission? If you are driving down the motorway and suddenly experience grinding or shaking, the transmission may be to blame. You may hear the grinding as you drive or may even feel it when you are shifting into a different gear. This symptom often indicates that clutch is not aligned properly or is too worn down to function correctly. Adjusting the clutch or replacing it altogether often fixes the issues.


Not Going Into Gear

Sometimes your Land Rover’s transmission may act like a child, refusing to do something until it gets its way. If you suddenly find you can’t switch gears, this likely is to do with your transmission fluid. The level may be low, or you may have accidentally used the incorrect type of fluid for the vehicle. If it isn’t thick enough or is too thick, the transmission may have trouble working.

Adjustments to certain car parts, like shift cables and clutch linkage may also be needed if the fluid levels and thickness are correctly. In addition to these issues, the computer system within the Land Rover may be the problem. To diagnose this issues, turn the car off, disconnect the battery, and then let it stand. Wait thirty minutes, then reattach the battery. Wait another thirty minutes so the system has time to reset itself. If this doesn’t work, get the Land Rover to a mechanic.


Burning Odour

A burning odour coming from the Land Rover is concerning, and not a symptom to ignore. This is often caused by transmission fluid that has become overheated. If the transmission fluid is too hot, this means that it has broken down and that the transmission’s sensitive parts are operating at a high temperature that could spell disaster for the entire system. The most common causes of this issue are using the wrong type of fluid or low fluid levels.


Check Engine Light

The check engine light is a mystery often ignored by many drivers. It can indicate problems with so many different car parts that it often takes a mechanic to diagnose exactly what the issue is. The sensors in your transmission can be the cause of this light coming on, as they are able to feel even the slightest vibration or jerk in the system- even if you don’t. A mechanic and his diagnostic tools are generally needed to determine exactly what is wrong in this case.


Slipping Gears

Have you noticed that your Land Rover spontaneously slips into a different gear or even neutral by itself? It isn’t haunted. This problem is most likely caused by worn gear linkage. These Land Rover parts can wear down over time or even break, leaving you with serious trouble when it comes to accelerating when you need to.

Think your transmission is causing you trouble? Understand and consider the symptoms you’re experiencing very carefully so you can diagnose and repair the correct car parts quickly.