The warning signs of a bad torque converter include transmission slippage and surging, partial loss of vehicular power, problems when attempting to switch gears and abnormal engine noise. According to Cars Direct, these symptoms may occur separately or simultaneously. Immediate service and converter replacement is the only way to prevent catastrophic engine damage.
The function of the torque converter is to pump hydraulic fluid into the transmission. The transmission cannot function optimally without the proper amount of fluid at the correct pressure, which is why partial loss of power is the most obvious sign of torque converter problems. When the converter no longer consistently maintains the correct hydraulic fluid pressure, the transmission surges and slips. The most obvious symptom of transmission slippage is engine revolutions in excess of 3,500 per minute. Vehicles experiencing slippage also accelerate poorly.
Bad torque converters frequently produce knocking, whistling or grinding. It is extremely important to listen for unusual noises because they often develop during the early stages of torque converter damage. These unexpected sounds are valuable early warnings that indicate looming problems with the torque converter, hydraulic lines and transmission.
Torque converter problems require expert diagnosis and professional repair or replacement. Vehicles that manifest signs of converter trouble require urgent attention.