Sawdust In The Transmission: Does It Work?

Adding sawdust in the transmission to make it work smoother is an old trick that was quite common back in the day, but did it really help? Let’s find out.

When you are sending your car to a repair shop with a transmission problem, you may have heard that some (unscrupulous ones?) might use sawdust in the transmission fluid to clear clogs and reduce noise.

Be it a problem with slipping transmission fluid or broken bands, putting sawdust was considered part of the solution for a very long time.

But how much truth is there to the claim? Today, let us talk to you about certain transmission problems and whether putting sawdust in the transmission really has any effect Is it harmful or neutral?

Read on to find out.


Sawdust In The Transmission


The Importance Of Transmission In A Car

A car’s transmission is a crucial part of the vehicle, which ensures that the engine is running at the right rate. It provides power to the wheels and makes sure that the car starts and stops at the right time when you are firing up the engine. The transmission system is connected to the main engine by power lines, creating a to-and-fro power system in the car.

There can be manual and automatic transmission systems, which depend on what kind of model you are using. In a manual transmission, the driver has to handle the gears, which are called stick shifts. These are connected to the shift lever, which is, in turn, connected to the transmission that helps power the engine accordingly.

The automatic transmission system is a major computer-based system that helps maintain an independent transmission throughout the car. The driver only has to choose the D on the gear shift, and the rest depends on the car.

What Happens If There Is Sawdust In Transmission?

Earlier it was believed that adding sawdust could help in making tired transmission systems work better. It was a common practice at nearly all auto repair workshops to add sawdust to the transmission fluid if the tranny was slipping.

Through years of observations, however, auto experts have figured out that putting sawdust in the transmission fluid of a car does not solve any problem. In fact, it may complicate the problem by thickening the fluid. When the manual transmission is thick, it causes more friction between the drums and tired clutches.

Thick transmission fluid can run about 3000 miles before it starts clogging up the main valve body and bringing the car to a stop. If there is a car that sells a car with sawdust in the transmission fluid, they can be held legally accountable and will be fined for the same.

Other Automatic Transmission Problems – The Signs To Look Out For

The automatic transmission in your car is a complicated technology that can be very difficult to repair if something goes wrong. No matter what car you are using, transmission repairs can be an expensive affair if you delay it for a long, which is why it is important to look out for the early signs of transmission failure.

Here are the most significant ones that you should look out for:

Shaking sensation in the gear

Automatic transmissions are installed in cars so that there is easy operation when you are shifting gears. You should be able to shift gears smoothly without any kind of shaking or grinding sensation. But if there is any problem with the transmission in your engine, the gear shift can become a big problem.

Whenever you try to shift the gears, you will feel a shake, or it can feel like the gear is getting stuck. This might be an insignificant problem early on and often negligible while driving. But if it persists, it is a good idea to get the vehicle checked out.


Sawdust In The Transmission


Non-responsive car when you put the gear

When you are trying to change the gears from drive to reverse or the other way around, your car might not follow through. If the car’s transmission is not engaging with the gear, there is a possibility of the transmission being at fault.

This could also be a problem in the internal automatic transmission system that controls it. In this case, you can try to disconnect the battery and plug it back, and it should start working. Either way, if you are not sure what is going on, consult a mechanic quickly.

Burning smells

One of the scariest things that can happen in any vehicle is when you smell a burning odor from somewhere inside the car. From bad electrical connections to overheated transmission fluid, there are a number of possible reasons that can cause a burning smell. And no, you should never take this odor casually.

In case of the transmission fluid overheating, it will directly affect the ability to lubricate, which increases the friction between different parts. If this problem is avoided, the parts can actually start creating debris in the car and clogging up different parts. This is also possible if you are using the wrong kind of transmission fluid in the car.

Slipping gears

If you have used manual transmission in a car, you are aware of how important gear shifts are and why it needs to stay in place while driving. Similarly, for auto transmission, if your gear is slipping away or losing traction, it can become a major safety issue while driving.

The transmission is what sets the power on the wheels that will help you speed up or slow down the car. If the gears start malfunctioning in any way, transmission problem is the first thing to worry about. You should not take any chances with this issue.

Leaking fluid

If you notice a dark fluid leaking from your car when it is parked or when you just start driving, it is because of the leaking transmission fluid. The low fluid slowly reduces the lubrication of your car and can result in a complete breakdown over time. Since you cannot keep track of this leakage, it can be difficult to manage.

If you see that the vehicle’s transmission fluid level is suddenly reducing, you should know that there is a leak that needs to be traced. The problem may be a minor leak in the transmission filter or hose, but it should be fixed before the levels reduce dangerously.


Sawdust In The Transmission


Whining and clunking noises

Strange noises from a car are a really common problem that occurs for a number of reasons. The sounds can be a low humming, too loud clunking that sounds like the internal parts hitting against one another. If you have a servicing due, make sure to mention this problem to your mechanic.

If your mechanic suggests a transmission repair for the sound problem, it might be traced back to the fact that the transmission fluid in your car is breaking down. The fluid is responsible for lubricating several parts of the vehicle. But with time, the lubrication is reduced, causing friction between the parts and hence the noises.

‘Check Engine’ light

Whenever you see the ‘Check Engine’ light in your car is on, you should prepare for incoming trouble. From very simple problems to complex ones, this light is a signal that your engine needs to be checked out. If there is a transmission problem, the light often blinks as a warning.

Modern cars have a very sensitive sensor that can pick up on basic transmission problems and indicate them with the ‘Check Engine’ light. It is a smart decision to avoid any major trouble by getting your car checked out.

 If you notice any one of these problems, it is time to take your car to the mechanic as soon as possible. With quick action, you can save a lot of headaches and money that will otherwise become very costly damage to your vehicle.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if I put sawdust in my transmission?

If you put sawdust in a car’s transmission, it will clog up the fluid and start creating more friction between the car’s components. The transmission filter will be clogged first, which can cause major damage to the car by breaking down the parts over time.

What are the top 5 signs of transmission problems?

Some of the basic signs of transmission problems that you should look out for are – leaking fluid, slipping gears, strange sounds from internal parts, burning smells from the car, or the gears not working properly when you start the engine.


Sawdust In The Transmission


What can destroy a transmission?

There might be a few things that you are doing as a driver which can cause damage to the transmission. This includes stomping on the brakes, pounding the accelerator frequently, not checking the transmission fluid levels, or delaying maintenance of the car.

What are the telltale signs of internal transmission issues?

If there is an internal transmission issue in your car, you should look out for certain signs. This includes slipping gears, strange noises or smells when the car is running, leaking and low levels of transmission fluids, the check engine light being on, and grinding or shaking gears when you are trying to shift the gears.


Problems with the transmission fluid are never something to be ignored. Remember, the basic rule of any car maintenance is to keep the parts healthy so that there is no friction between the parts. Any kind of friction is the first step to a complete breakdown that will be a huge problem and if damaged enough, impossible to solve.

We hope this article helps you to look out for the signs early on. Thank you for reading!

Photo of author

Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

Leave a Comment