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When Engine Hesitation Isn't the Engine

Transmission Fluid Flush

Sometimes, engine hesitation isn't the engine at all. It can instead be the transmission. As we learned in an earlier article, engine hesitation is a stumble, misfire, or loss of power when the throttle is pressed.

Sometimes, however, the engine is performing fine and it's the transmission that's hesitating to send power from the engine through the powertrain to the wheels. If diagnostics for engine problems has yielded no results, then looking to the transmission would be the next logical step.

Start with the basics: check fluid levels and how dirty they are. You should also find out when the transmission fluid was last flushed and replaced and any filters replaced. Sometimes, trans fluid can look just fine, but have aged or been subjected to extremes which lowered its viscosity (stickiness). This causes a lot of issues in the transmission.

If the transmission is due for a flush/repalce and filter (if any), then that should be done. This may or may not fix the problem, of course, but it won't hurt.

The next thing to check are solenoids. The TCC solenoid should be checked as well. Often during a fluid exchange. Make sure to clear any transmission codes found before starting the car again for a test drive after repairs.

It's not unusual for a transmission problem to be the engine or an engine problem to be the transmission.