6 Symptoms of a Bad Torque Converter and the Average Replacement Cost

Torque Converter

Your torque converter helps your transmission to work properly. In this article, we will help you understand what it is, its role in your vehicle’s operation, six symptoms of torque converter malfunction or failure and the average replacement cost.

 

Torque Converter – What It Is & Its Role

You will only find a torque converter in a vehicle that has automatic transmission. It’s basically your shifter, allowing your engine to do a couple things:

  • Operate slightly separate from your transmission
  • Stay running at idle when the vehicle is stopped, like when you’re at a stop sign

The torque converter is made with a pump, a turbine and a stator. The pump sends transmission fluid to the outside, creating a vacuum, drawing more fluid into the system. When the fluid gets to the turbine, it spins the transmission, which causes your car to move. The stator is key to the converter’s efficiency, as it directs fluid back to the pump from the turbine.

Let’s now see how you can detect six symptoms that will indicate its malfunction or failure.

 

Slipping Gears

 

Lack of Acceleration

When your gears slip, you usually lose acceleration as well. Here again is where sufficient pressure comes into play. If the hydraulic process is off, so is the pressure, causing acceleration loss.

 

Torque Converter

The main issue with slipping gears is that there is a lack of pressure needed to control the flow of your tranny fluid. This can be a strong indicator of a bad converter. But before you panic, check your fluid level and the quality of your fluid, as these too can impact that pressure.

Hard Shifting

Lack of proper flow inside your converter can make it difficult to shift, possibly preventing shifting altogether. This puts a strain on your tranny.

 

Lags or Heaves

When the flow is low, the car won’t go – not how it’s supposed to. You might experience a heave or surge in acceleration, or a delay in acceleration. This is definitely a sign of a bad converter.

 

Shuddering

This occurs usually at lower speeds not exceeding 45 mph, where the car feels like it’s going over a bump, even though there are none. It could be your torque converter.

 

Dirty Fluid

If your fluid is darker in color, instead of the red, cough-syrupy appearance it has when it’s new, you could have a bad converter, as it’s preventing good flow, which can cause overheating in your transmission, or worse. Flush out the bad fluid and replace it with the fresh article.

If that alone does the trick, you may be safe.

 

Average Replacement Cost

Before you go and replace your transmission, know that you may not necessarily have to. The torque converter could be the culprit and you don’t even know it.

 

So what is the average cost for replacing a torque converter?

If you have it done in a shop, it will cost you anywhere from $600 to $1,000. This is a nationwide average, so where you live it could be within this range, or outside of it. This also doesn’t include state taxes. Your state will be different here too.

If you have these advanced mechanical skills, you could tackle the job yourself. The only costs you’ll have is $150 to $500 for the part, and the time it takes to remove the transmission to get at the faulty part.

We decided to talk about repairing the converter. Believe it or not, this is a much more expensive option. The transmission still has to be removed, and then the tech has to take the converter apart to fix whatever is wrong with it. So you’re better off just having a new torque converter put in.

 

Summary

The torque converter is important to the smooth operation of your transmission. Be alert to these warning signs and keep your transmission in shape.

 

 

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