Today's automatic transmissions are designed to shift smoothly from gear to gear and use both hardware and software components to accomplish this goal. For this reason, a malfunctioning transmission isn't always a simple thing to diagnose because you need to determine if the transmission is having a physical problem or if the software is simply having an issue. If your car recently started shifting hard from one gear to another, then this is an early warning sign there may or may not be a serious hardware problem. In reality, it may instead be a sign of a software problem that is simple for a transmission repair technician to fix. Here's what you need to know about transmission harsh shifting issues and how they are rectified:
Shifting Quality Issues Caused by Software Problems
When you drive a new car for the first few times, the transmission software learns your driving habits and programs the transmission to shift and react to the way you drive. These automatic shift calibrations are stored in an adaptive learning table in the car's main computer. One way to fix software issues is to make sure your vehicle has the latest software updates from the manufacturer. Sometimes a simple update will solve the problem.
If the software has been updated and is still having issues, then it's possible a simple clean-out of the adaptive learning tables on the computer. This gives you a clean slate to reprogram them with a few new driving sessions. The learning tables need to be cleared by an auto mechanic or transmission repair specialist with a high-quality scanning tool.
Shifting Quality Issues Caused by Mechanical Problems
If the transmission's shifting problem isn't caused by a software issue, then the transmission fluid will give you necessary clues about its internal mechanical function. Start your vehicle and pull the dipstick for the transmission fluid while the car is running. Wipe the dipstick on a clean rag and then fully reinsert it and pull it back out. This will give you the correct operating fluid level. After noting the fluid level, wipe the dipstick on a clean section of the rag. If you see any brown coloration or metal filings, then your transmission has a serious problem and needs professional repair.
Finally, if the fluid is bright red but low, then adding fluid will stop the hard shifting. Transmission fluid is a lubricant and when it is too low, then the lack of lubrication can cause harsh shifting. Otherwise, do not hesitate to reach out for professional transmission repair.