Many people complain of issues with shifting gears when the weather becomes cold. Some may think they have a clutch issue or a transmission issue. However, before jumping to any conclusions, it's important to understand how the cold can affect your transmission.

What Symptoms are You Experiencing?

There's degrees of performance issues that can occur when it's colder out. Your particular difficulties may help to point to which exact problem plagues your gearbox. If you have to bring your car in to a mechanic, it will help them as well if you can describe the problem adequately.

  • Having a hard time shifting in general
  • Having a hard time shifting lower gears
  • Having a hard time shifting into or out of reverse
  • If the symptoms gradually progress from bad to worse

Many issues can affect your clutch or transmission. The cold can make some issues you already have seem worse. That means it's not always the cold that's the problem.

How the Cold Can Affect the Clutch and Transmission

When it's cold out, the effort it takes to shift gears can increase. You may notice the increase, but it shouldn't cause you any alarm. Understand that increase in effort isn't drastic. If you find you're struggling to shift gears, you may have an issue with one of the components of your clutch and transmission system.

Cold can cause your system to contract. Extreme contraction can cause your clutch master cylinders to fail. As the system contracts, it creates low pressure in your hydraulic lines. That inadequate pressure can make the clutch harder to move. Sufficiently low pressure can cause damage as well.

Cold can also cause problems with the clutch plate and flywheel. When you press the clutch pedal, it hits a pressure plate that presses against the flywheel. Through this process, your engine and transmission work in unison. When it's cold, you can lose that pressure or some of the friction required for this operation.

You can solve a good number of these issues by letting the car sit in idle for a few minutes. That's why it's important to "warm" your car up for about five minutes on cold days.

It's Not Always so Serious

Sometimes, the problem with shifting can happen for non-technical reasons. For example, having your floor mats bunch up below the pedal can make it seem as if you have a problem. It's also possible you just need some transmission fluid or a different type of transmission fluid.

It's easy to assume the worse, especially when it comes to your delicate clutch and gearbox. Yes, the weather can affect various aspects of the clutch and transmission. However, those issues are typically mild. If warming the car up doesn't help, then you should bring your vehicle in to a transmission repair specialist to ascertain the specific cause of your issue.

Talk to a company like Karry's Automotive Service Center for more information.