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How to Tell if a Torque Converter is Bad

Torque ConverterWhen a torque converter goes bad in your vehicle prepare to shell out some bucks. The transmission will have to be removed from your vehicle to replace it. There are a few symptoms to look out for that may indicate it needs to be replaced. Keep in mind that this “how to” is not all inclusive. Some vehicles may exhibit the same conditions but it is actually something other than the torque converter causing those symptoms.



Step 1- Check Engine or O/D light

Check Engine LightIf a check engine light is illuminated or the o/d light is on or flashing there may be a code indicating that there is a fault with the torque converter. Have the module scanned and the codes diagnosed by a qualified person. If you have a scanner you may find a code P0740- TCC/Torque Converter Clutch Circuit Malfunction.



Step 2- Recognize the Symptom

Inside of a Torque ConverterA symptom of a torque converter going bad is the vehicle stalling when selecting a forward gear, reverse gear or slowing down to a full stop. This happens because it is in lock-up mode meaning that the clutches will not release and will not transfer the power as it should. It is the same effect as driving a vehicle with a manual transmission and not pushing in the clutch pedal when coming to a stop. Conversely it is equivalent to starting off in a higher gear in a vehicle with a manual transmission and not revving the engine.


Rumble DivotsSome torque converters exhibit a shudder when going into overdrive–typically between 40-60 MPH. This is noticed as driving over rumble strips or those divots on the side of interstate. Sometimes a fluid change can help this condition. If the problem persists after a fluid change a new torque converter may be in your future.



Step 3- Increase RPM’s

TachometerOne way to verify it is the torque converter is when starting off you may have to rev the engine and hold the brake while selecting a forward or reverse gear to keep the vehicle from stalling.




Step 4- Select Neutral

Gear shifter in neutralAnother way to pinpoint the torque converter as the faulty component is to select the neutral position with the gear shift when slowing down. If you can slow to a complete stop in neutral and it does not stall, most likely it is the torque converter that is faulty. Use this method if the vehicle stalls when you stop in gear.




Read about how to fix these torque converter situations here.


Tips & Warnings

  • If you are unfamiliar with vehicles take it to a professional and let them decide for you. It will save you time and money in the end.
  • Cars and their components are heavy and can seriously injure or kill you. If you have ANY doubts seek a qualified person.


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