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3 Ways to Test the Health of the Transmission of a Used Car Before You Buy

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Buying a used car is an excellent way to get the wheels you need without spending a ton of cash. However, buying a used car also puts you in the position to inherit a previous car owner's mechanical problems, which you definitely don't want–especially if those mechanical woes are buried in the transmission. Because the transmission is not a part of the car's mechanical makeup that is immediately visible, testing the transmission for its soundness can be a little tough. Check out these three easy ways to test the transmission of a car you are planning to buy before you hand over your money.  

Shift into every gear during your test drive. 

You should never buy a used car without first taking it for a spin. During this test drive, make it a point to test out every gear of the transmission, from park to the lowest gear. It is not uncommon for a transmission to seem like it is functioning perfectly fine but have one gear that is completely out. For example, some car transmissions lose the reverse gear first before the rest of them fail. Take a long enough test drive that you get the chance to shift into every gear, and don't forget to also test out reverse. 

Hit a steep incline and pay attention to how the transmission responds. 

Automatic transmissions are designed to shift automatically when the incline of the traveled terrain changes and demands on the engine are different. therefore, you will usually see the transmission shift when you hit a steep incline. Take the car you are planning to buy on a test drive to a road where there is a good sized hill or two and listen for lags when the transmission should be changing. If the car seems to hesitate or miss when you go up a hill, there could be imminent problems in the future. 

Check out the transmission fluid and do so more than once. 

There are two important times to test out the transmission fluid in a car: before it is started and after you have taken it for a drive. Check the transmission fluid by pulling the dipstick and wiping the fluid against a clean, white rag. You are looking for fluid that is not sludgy or dirty in appearance, but you should also look for small fragments of metal. If you spot fragmented metal pieces in the transmission fluid, it is a sure sign that the transmission's metal components are breaking down. 

For more tips on how to tell whether a transmission is in good shape or in need of repair, talk to a mechanic like those at Karry's Automotive Service Center.