If your car has a manual transmission, it will use a manual clutch to control power delivery. In an automatic transmission, the torque converter performs that role; essentially, it is responsible for transferring torque from the engine to the transmission.
The bad news is that torque converters can go bad. The good news is that this is a relatively cheap and easy part to replace, so people expecting expensive transmission rebuilds or replacements are often happily surprised. Of course, you'll need to be able to recognize the signs of a bad torque converter and bring the vehicle to a professional as soon as possible.
With that in mind, here are just four common signs your torque converter needs to be replaced.
1. Poor Performance
Since the torque converter is responsible for transferring power between engine and transmission, it should come as no surprise to learn that a failing one can affect performance. Often the first thing drivers notice is poor acceleration at lower speeds. This happens when internal torque converter parts aren't rotating properly, which leads to a lack of torque. If parts stop spinning completely, your car will start to lag at higher speeds.
2. Unexplained Noises
Most failing car parts give themselves away with strange noises, and the torque converter is no exception. At first, you're likely to wear a whirring noise coming from around the engine. It should be more apparent when the transmission is in gear or when you start the car up, usually due to worn bearings. Keep driving without addressing the problem and you might start hearing a grinding or clicking sound. This means that internal torque converter parts are coming apart. Have the vehicle looked at as soon as possible to prevent broken shards damaging other parts of the transmission.
There are several reasons why your transmission might be slipping, including a faulty torque converter. If yours needs to be replaced, it won't be managing transmission fluid as effectively, sometimes sending too much and sometimes too little. When the transmission isn't getting the right amount of fluid, you'll notice slipping as you drive.
4. Dirty Fluid
If you're worried your torque converter might have gone bad, you can always check the transmission fluid. Healthy transmission fluid is a pinkish red – it's dyed that way to ensure you don't mistake it for another fluid. If there are lots of black flecks in your fluid, there's probably a problem with your transmission system, and the torque converter is a likely culprit.