How To Fix Powertrain Malfunction? Detailed Steps

A powertrain is a system that almost governs the main operations of a vehicle. However, sometimes drivers also face mechanical issues.

What are the reasons and how to fix powertrain malfunction? Keeping scrolling for more details.

Powertrain And Its Functions

powertrain fault

The powertrain is a system of connected parts to power the vehicle. This system includes the engine, transmission, and other transmission components such as axles, torque converters, buttons, wheels, and suspension.

So what does powertrain fault mean? It refers to the problems that arise when the above parts cannot work properly.

The two main powertrain components that determine the operation of a powertrain are the engine and the transmission. They are usually installed side by side in a block or placed close to each other.

All four wheels are driven via a 2- or 4-wheel drive system. This drivetrain installation and layout affect fuel consumption and vehicle performance.

The two front wheels are on one drive axle called the front axle. Similarly, the two rear wheels are located on a rear axle called the rear axle.

The drive system has many different drive forms, such as front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, full-time 4-wheel drive, part-time 4-wheel drive, etc.

What Causes Powertrain Malfunction?

what does powertrain fault mean

1. Engine-Related Problems

The engine is one of the key components in the powertrain. And errors are unavoidable if you do not service the engine and take care of it carefully.

Irregular oil changes, engine detonation, radiator and transmission problems are engine-related issues that can lead to the powertrain fault.

Irregular Engine Oil Changes

Oil is an essential lubricant for the engine to run smoothly, thereby regulating and balancing the temperature of other components.

If your engine does not get regular oil changes, the engine will work hard and make strange noises during operation. In addition, the older the oil, the easier it is to burn and produce harmful emissions, causing serious environmental pollution.

During the vehicle’s operation, the engine oil is gradually depleted, allowing the amount of dirt and iron filings to exceed the allowable limit. They will become abrasive particles that wear out the engine quickly.

Engine Detonation

When it comes to engine detonation, you hear an unusual sound like knocking, the impact of hard objects like metal.

If it lasts for a long time, pistons, washers, cylinders, and other moving parts of the engine will be damaged.

This phenomenon usually occurs when the temperature in the combustion chamber is too high.

Spark plugs combined with soot accumulation with high heat will create great pressure causing engine detonation.

In addition, m cars’ engines today have a detonation sensor. It is designed to detect the knocking engine. This signal will be transmitted to the ECU; then, the ECU will adjust the parameters to overcome the detonation.

Therefore, if the knock sensor is faulty, it may send the wrong signal to the ECU, so the adjustment will be wrong and probably cause more knocking.

2. Transmission-Related Problems

If the transmission system has a problem, the powertrain malfunction is inevitable.

When the transmission fluid level is low or the system is damaged, gearing will be difficult, and you will see the gears grinding against each other, creating more noisy squeaks.

In addition, if the gearbox oil has been used for too long without being replaced periodically, dirt and metal particles will also foster the gearbox to deteriorate faster.

The valves and hydraulic pistons inside the gearbox are also clogged, causing the gearbox to operate unstably.

Solenoid or wiring harness malfunction is a common cause, too. It can trigger transmission failure due to unsteady fluid flow in the transmission line.

How To Fix Powertrain Malfunction?

How to fix powertrain malfunction

Preparation Steps

How to fix powertrain fault? The first step to take when you see your car has a problem is to turn off the engine and stop the car on the side of the road to avoid more serious problems.

Next, you need to check the entire powertrain (including the engine, transmission, and other components). You can perform the test following the steps in the manufacturer’s manual.

The powertrain is extremely important in transferring power from the engine to the wheels to ensure the vehicle’s performance.

So, when it has a problem, you need to call the nearest car dealer or repair service to have your car towed to a place of repair.

If the area doesn’t have any auto repair shops, you’ll need to drive at 45 mph, and the maximum driving time is 30 minutes. Control your vehicle in line with the above  limits to avoid serious breakdown problems.

Repairing Steps

If you decide to repair the power train malfunction, you need to start looking into the causes and solutions according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and our above guides.

Once the problem has been identified, you can begin to repair it. If the cause lies in you forgetting to change the engine oil regularly, then you know what to do.

According to many experts, changing the engine oil on time will help prolong the life of the car engine. As a standard, you should change your oil every 5,000 miles.

You should change the oil filter with the rule of 2 oil changes equivalent to one oil filter replacement.

Or after 10,000 km, both the oil and the oil filter will be changed. Click here to know how to change the oil filter without changing oil.

Besides, if your car is out of transmission fluid, you should flush it to help the gears operate more smoothly and evenly.

Other components also run more fluid, preventing the transmission from overheating or causing an explosion.

Things To Consider

If you are not confident in fixing your car, you can consult auto forums. However, the best way is to call a certified mechanic or bring the car to a genuine car repair service station to get the most expected results.

Sometimes, self-repairing a vehicle can void its warranty. So the best way is to ask skilled mechanics to solve this problem.

In addition, it is important to do so as soon as possible and service vehicles to sidestep more serious damage in the future.


What Is The Cost Of Powertrain Failure Repair?

Automotive powertrain repair costs are one of the most frustrating things for vehicle owners. The powertrain is a complex part, consisting of many different mechanical components, so high repair costs are inevitable.

For transmission repairs of the powertrain, the cost is around 2000 USD. Engine failure cost is higher, about 3000 USD or more.

Disassembling, repairing, and maintaining the transmission, engine, and other components takes a lot of time. Therefore, the labor cost is not low (about 125 USD an hour) or even higher.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Malfunction Powertrain?

What is a powertrain fault? We can get it through certain symptoms. One of the most obvious warning signs is the unusual noises such as growling from the car engine ohias. They can be the collision of gears or other moving parts.

Sometimes, you will hear a grinding noise when idling, which signifies a transmission problem – the main culprit of a defective powertrain.

Besides, a low oil level or transmission fluid leak forming a dump under your car is also a common sign that you should have your failure checked.

The blinking powertrain light is also clear signs that your engine is having problems.

Should I Buy A Powertrain Warranty?


First, do you intend to use this car for a long time? If the answer is yes, buying a warranty will help you deal with the costs incurred due to accidental damage while driving.

If your car is quite old, you should still buy a warranty because there will be more breakdowns as the car gets older.

Not to mention, when your car is old and you still want to sell it in the future, having a manufacturer warranty will increase your car’s resale value. You will get a higher price than usual.


In short, how to fix powertrain malfunction? First, you need to find out the causes of powertrain malfunction.

If the problem is with engine oil or engine detonation, you need to filter and change the oil immediately.

Supposing the cause is transmission fluid, you need to refill the fluid and check other parts if necessary.

If necessary, you should take your car to genuine car repair facilities to get a quality powertrain service plan and reasonable prices.

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