A torque converter enables your car's engine to spin independently of the wheels. The torque converter makes use of the transmission fluid to transfer power from the engine to the transmission system. This means torque converter problems will affect the way your car moves. Below are some of the telltale signs of torque converter problems.
Automatic transmission fluid (ATF) fills the torque converter. Apart from transmitting power, the ATC also lubricates and cools the torque converter. Contaminated or stale ATF won't do its job properly, and the torque converter will experience accelerated wear and tear. You should suspect that this is happening or is about to happen if the transmission fluid looks dirty (filled with sludge or grime).
A defective torque converter can also trigger shuddering at moderate speeds. The vehicle might begin to vibrate or shake as if you are driving over a bumpy road even if the driving surface is even enough. The shuddering may be intermittent, appearing and disappearing without apparent causes. The shuddering occurs because the torque converter is not supplying the necessary force to the transmission.
Since torque converter transmits engine power to the transmission system, problems with the torque converter might manifest themselves as transmission problems. Things like transmission slipping and shifting problems can either be transmission-related or torque converter-related.
Overheating can also be a symptom of torque converter problems. This is because the transmission fluid is one of the critical components of the torque converter. As previously mentioned, the transmission fluid also cools the torque converter and other related parts of the transmission. If the ATF is low, the torque converter can both malfunction and overheat. Thus, an overheated car can also be a symptom of a torque converter issue.
The torque converter is a mechanical device that can suffer mechanical damage. Bad bearings, bent parts, and broken parts (such as the turbine) can all affect the torque converter operations. If that happens, the moving parts of the torque converter will experience elevated friction. The torque converter can also rub against each other. All these can make the torque converter operate noisily. The noise levels might increase during acceleration or shifting.
Driving a car with torque converter issues can trigger further problems such as engine or transmission issues. Therefore, take your car to a mechanic for a diagnosis and repair if you sense any of the above symptoms of torque converter malfunctions.