How to Tell If You Have a Faulty Torque Converter

Did you choose a car fitted with an automatic gearbox so that you wouldn't have to worry about any transmission issues? If you did, you will be less than happy now that there is clearly something wrong, but you're not able to put your finger on it. You may know that this system is very complex, but one of the most crucial components is the torque converter. As this can often be at the root of a transmission evil, what type of symptoms should you expect?

What Does This Do?

In many respects, the torque converter takes the place of a conventional clutch in a manual car. It has to disconnect various internal parts when the vehicle comes to a standstill so there is no forward movement. Additionally, it manages the distribution of lubricating fluid through the system on an ongoing basis.

Tell-Tale Signs of Disrepair

For the torque converter to work correctly, the fluid within needs to maintain a certain pressure gradient. If this starts to fail, then you will begin to notice all manner of symptoms. You may not be able to accelerate smoothly, and while the engine note will rise, forward momentum will fall short. When this happens, you may also notice that the temperature gauge begins to rise on your dashboard, signalling overheating.

You may be able to get up to highway speeds but may then notice a strange shuddering sensation, which may come and go without any warning. Many people suggest that this is similar to driving down a gravel road when you're on a perfectly smooth surface, and if left unchecked, this can wreak havoc on other components throughout the vehicle.

Try This at Home

You may be able to do a test at home to see if you can narrow the problem down to the torque converter. When the car is parked in a safe place with nothing in front or behind, turn the ignition and let the car run for several minutes. Next, lightly touch the accelerator a few times and with your foot on the brake, shift into drive. If the torque converter is broken, then you may notice some strange clicking noises, or alternatively, the engine may accelerate by itself. You can do the same test once again, but this time put the car into reverse and listen out for some noises.

Taking It to the Experts

This type of job is not for the DIY enthusiast and you should take your vehicle to a mechanic so that they can diagnose and fix the problem.