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Summary
  • You will remove the torque converter, inspect the new converter’s seal before flushing it with automatic transmission fluid (ATF), ensure the pump gear and splines are engaged, and test your car.
  • The torque converter transmits and multiplies engine torque, serves as a clutch, and enables slippage to allow the transmission to engage in gear.
  • Replacing the torque converter costs between $600 and $1,000, and the cost of a new part ranges from $150 to $500.
  • It usually takes 4 to 5 hours to replace the torque converter.
  • Avoid driving with a bad torque converter to prevent issues and additional damage.
  • Replace the torque converter immediately when you encounter symptoms that it has failed.

A faulty torque converter causes multiple issues that are dangerous to drive with. As such, it’s imperative to replace it immediately.

If you’re unfamiliar with the task, don’t fret. Here is what you can expect when having the torque converter replaced.

What Does Torque Converter Replacement Entail?

Replacing the torque converter involves several steps:

  • Step 1: The old torque converter and other components are removed.
  • Step 2: The new torque converter’s seal is inspected. Then, the converter is flushed with automatic transmission fluid (ATF).
  • Step 3: The pump gear, stator splines, and turbine splines are checked if they’re engaging.
  • Step 4: The vehicle is tested to get the adaptive settings close to what they should be and prevent damage to the unit.
See also  P0740 Code: Torque Converter Clutch Solenoid Circuit/Open Circuit Malfunction

Flushing the torque converter means cleaning it with ATF to keep your vehicle working as intended. Failure to do so may accelerate the deterioration of the converter.

What Is a Torque Converter?

installing a replacement car torque converter
A faulty torque converter causes multiple issues that are dangerous to drive with.

The torque converter is a device between the engine and the transmission that has different functions:

  • Transmitting and multiplying engine torque
  • Acting as a clutch between the engine and the transmission
  • Allowing slippage to enable the transmission to engage in gear when the vehicle stops

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Torque Converter?

Replacing the torque converter costs between $600 and $1,000, depending on the auto repair shop’s labor fee and the new converter’s price. A new part ranges from $150 to $500, depending on the year, make, and model of the car.

How Long Does It Take To Replace a Torque Converter?

It typically takes four to five hours to replace the torque converter. There are also cases when replacement reaches 20 hours, depending on how long it takes to remove the transmission.

It typically takes four to five hours to replace the torque converter.

Anthony Harlin, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician

Can I Drive With a Bad Torque Converter?

It’s dangerous to drive with a bad torque converter because it causes issues with acceleration, transmission, and gear shifting, among other things. As such, experts recommend repairing or replacing immediately to limit further damage and prevent potential accidents.

When Should I Replace a Torque Converter?

You should replace or repair the torque converter if you see symptoms that it’s faulty or failing. Have your vehicle diagnosed when you feel gear slipping, shuddering, or rattling noises to confirm whether a bad converter is causing the issue or a different malfunctioning component.

See also  A Short Course on Automatic Transmissions

Note that torque converters aren’t repairable, so any damage means you’ll have to replace them.

Can I Replace the Torque Converter Myself?

You can replace the torque converter yourself if you have the proper know-how. The price of having it replaced by professionals is steep because of how tedious the process is, so you can save money if you do it yourself.

But because the converter plays an important part in vehicle functionality, it’s best to leave its replacement to the experts if you’re unsure of the process.

Symptoms of a Bad Torque Converter

A bad torque converter has different symptoms you need to look out for. Most of them involve issues with transmission and gears.

Do note that these symptoms can stem from different issues. It’s difficult to diagnose the torque converter yourself, so it’s best to consult with a mechanic first.

Slipping Transmissions

Excessive or limited fluid usually makes the torque converter faulty. Both cases cause the transmission to slip, making it difficult to shift or stay in gear.

Decreased Speed

Inconsistent torque converter output can decrease speed due to the varying fluid pressure.

Shuddering

You might feel your vehicle shudder when driving with a bad transmission converter. Typically, the vibration starts at 30 to 40 mph. It’s not consistent and continuous, as it tends to come and go.

Car Noise

Due to the different mechanisms the torque converter has, and the various components it’s attached to, a faulty one causes a loud whirring noise when driving.

Overheating Transmission

The transmission has a temperature gauge that warns you if it’s overheating. And because lack of fluid usually causes a faulty torque converter, overheating is another of its common symptoms.

See also  What Does the Transmission Warning Light Mean? Common Causes

Transmission Fluid Leak

Torque converter damage may also mean a worn-out seal that’s leaking transmission fluid.

Bad Transmission Fluid

Dirty or contaminated transmission fluid is often caused by a malfunctioning torque converter and vice versa.

Causes of Bad Torque Converter

replacement car torque converter being cleaned
Many factors can damage the torque converter.

Many factors can damage the torque converter. Here are some of the most common causes:

Faulty Bearings

The bearings reduce friction to ensure smooth operation. If they fail, you might start hearing grinding noises due to the two parts rubbing against each other. The increased friction could cause the torque converter to fail.

Contaminated Transmission Fluid

A contaminated transmission fluid can cause the torque converter to fail. Similarly, other components that rely on the fluid can also be affected.

Damaged Seals

The torque converter seal not only prevents leaks but also keeps out dirt and debris. A damaged seal makes the transmission fluid more prone to contamination, which can lead to a failing torque converter.

Insufficient Transmission Fluid

If the transmission fluid is insufficient, the torque converter works harder to compensate. The excess energy it spends trying to provide power can cause it to malfunction.

Damaged Clutch Solenoid

The clutch solenoid measures the amount of transmission fluid needed for operation. This means a damaged solenoid causes excessive fluid pressure, which can damage the torque converter. That could lead to increased fuel consumption, erratic shifting, slipping, or vehicle stalling.

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Tony Harlin is a Master Gas and Diesel Diagnostic Technician with over 18 years of experience. He works full-time at a large independent automotive shop as a driveability and repair technician working on all types of vehicles with a focus on diesels. ASE certifications include A1-A9, L1 and L2, as well as X1.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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