Transmission Shifts Hard When Cold (4 Easy Solutions)

Suddenly noticing that you can’t shift gears as easily as you used to can be stressful. Not fixing this issue can hurt your transmission as well. But, don’t panic! The fixes are really simple and easy. 

So, what to do when your transmission shifts hard when cold

There are a lot of ways to fix this issue. You can always start with storing your car in a warmer place. Also, you can get an engine heater for your vehicle. There are numerous other options like using synthetic transmission fluid or checking batteries. Also, you can drive your car slowly for a while to warm it up

Now, this is just a summary and can’t cover everything. That’s why we have discussed this matter in detail below. 

Hence, for your own good, don’t hesitate and read till the end. 

4 Easy Solutions to Keep Your Transmission Warm 

As we’ve mentioned already, there are multiple ways to fix this problem of yours. But before that, we should know how this problem occurs. 

In most cases, your transmission fluid gets frozen if the weather is very cold. It happens when the transmission fluid has inferior cold-flow properties. 

This causes lengthy and hard shifts due to a lack of proper flow. However, there are many ways to fix or bypass this issue. 

Storing Your Vehicle In a Warm Place  

A warm place will prevent the thickening of your transmission fluid. The parts will also shrink less which is very beneficial. 

So, your garage just has to be warm enough. Simply put, make sure the room temperature has to be above freezing and you’re all good. 

However, if you’re traveling or don’t have access to a garage, don’t worry! We have solutions for that as well. 

Firstly, you can look for a covered parking spot. It can stop a car from getting too cold. Your car will be protected from cold winds and less ice and snow. 

Nevertheless, you can always use car covers. This is a very effective and inexpensive option if you can’t manage a garage. 

A good car cover can keep your car warm enough. In fact, it certainly is better than nothing at all. 

Also, it can take some burden off your engine heater which we’re going to discuss next. 

Using an Engine Heater 

In cold weather, we drink hot coffee or tea to keep ourselves warm. Similarly, you can use an engine heater to prevent your car’s engine from getting cold. 

Although most vehicles nowadays are built to withstand cold, it isn’t fully perfect. In extremely cold weather, you’ll still need an engine heater to keep your components warm. 

If the temperature drops lower than -40C, your car might not even start at all. An engine heater can keep crucial parts of your engine warm. 

And the best news? They come with a timer so you can set it whenever you want. It’s advised to turn on the engine heater at least 3 hours before you start your car.

So, you can set your timer according to your needs.

That being said, these are some of our best picks regarding engine heaters –

By the way, they are also very easy to install so don’t hesitate to get them. 

Using Synthetic Transmission Fluid

Using synthetic fluid for your transmission can give you an advantage in certain situations. One of the biggest benefits that this oil provides is the protection against cold weather. 

Normally, the traditional transmission fluids are made of crude oil and reshaped hydrocarbons. However, the synthetic transmission fluid is created through many different reactions. 

Thus, it has improved resistance to hot and cold weather. The bond is super strong, with fewer chances to break, freeze or vaporize.  

Also, there are a lot of other benefits of synthetic transmission fluid. They are extremely helpful in many different situations. 

However, it may not be compatible with your vehicle. So, don’t forget to check your car manual. Also, it’s better to ask a transmission specialist before you use it.  

Driving Slowly to Warm It Up 

If other options seem expensive to you, you can just drive it slow. It will help lubricate the engine. 

First thing first, start up the engine and stay idle for 15 seconds. Then change the shift and let your transmission properly engage. 

This will make your transmission warm easily and won’t cause any harm. After that, drive slowly for the first couple of miles. 

Avoid revving the car before it reaches the usual operating temperature. Usually, driving your car under 30mph is great if your transmission is cold. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What does it mean when your transmission shifts hard? 

Ans: Normally it means either your transmission fuel is low or you need to change the fuel. In a manual transmission, it can mean damaged gears or worn clutches. All of them are very severe and can cause serious harm to your transmission. 

Q: Will a transmission flush help hard shifting? 

Ans: The transmission fluid is always needed to protect your transmission from wear and tears and oxidation. So, transmission fluid will get rid of the old and dirty fluid. This is very beneficial for your transmission. Also, a proper flush should include complete transmission servicing as well. 

Q: How long will a hard shifting transmission last? 

Ans: Mostly it depends on your usage. It also depends on total mileage as well. For example, some transmission fails at 100,000 miles. So, if you drive 30,000 miles a year, it will only last 3years. Also, if you take good care of your transmission, it can last up to 300,000 miles. 


And that’s it. That’s all you can do when your transmission shifts hard when cold. Hopefully, you’ve realized and now know what to do about your situation. 

So, which method did you use to get out of this problem? 

Also, if you have some other methods, don’t hesitate to comment below. 

Happy driving!

Rob Dahm

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