Knowing the symptoms of a failing torque converter can make diagnosing problems with a machine much easier.
Despite the excellent capabilities and reliability of the torque converters we provide, problems do arise from time to time—especially considering the extraordinary torque converter performance your extraordinary projects require.
Diagnosing torque converter problems can be tricky because the symptoms often look like a problem with the transmission, but that’s not always the case.
Let’s take a look at a few symptoms that you can spot to detect when something has gone wrong. After all, spot the torque converter problems early on, and they’ll be much easier (and cheaper) to fix.
1. No Power from the Converter
You know the feeling—you ask for power and get very little of it. A problematic torque converter can play a big part in this because it plays a vital role in converting horsepower to torque. To get proper power from the torque converter, you need to allow enough time for converter pressure to form. If it doesn’t, you won’t get the power you need.
When the torque converter fails, it can cause the transmission to receive too much or too little fluid, which in turn causes the transmission gears to slip. This will result in a loss of power for the machine. If you notice the machine doesn’t have the amount of power it should have, it could be the torque converter. In cars, a sign of this would be a loss of fuel economy. Also, be sure to rule out low or dirty fluid. It may be the system just needs a fluid replacement.
2. Surging and Lagging
Surging is the flip side of the power-loss coin. If your machine “surges” or “lags” during operation—in other words, if it can’t seem to maintain a constant speed, power, or lift—it might be a torque converter problem due to erratic converter fluid pressure or flow.
A failing torque converter with high fluid pressure can cause more power to be transmitted than normal from time to time. This will cause the machine’s power to “surge” unpredictably. It may be a rare incident, or the engine might seem to be speeding up and slowing down in a cycle. The torque converter may be the culprit if the engine is functioning normally.
3. Power Loss due to Clutch Slippage
You’ll notice this when, especially after heavy acceleration, the clutch tends to slip. It will feel just like the converter is losing power while all along, the engine is making power, but the master clutch assembly is not transferring power to the torque converter.
A simple clutch adjustment and you can be up and running in no time. If this condition goes untreated for too long, excessive damage will occur to your master clutch assembly requiring removal and replacement. The key to saving money is maintaining your equipment and fixing problems quickly before they grow into bigger problems.
A mechanical failure in a torque converter can cause serious shuddering. In a car, the shuddering can be severe enough that it feels like driving on a gravel road. The shuddering is caused by a misalignment inside the converter, and it can be intermittent. If you notice shuddering when a machine is operating, have the torque converter and transmission checked out immediately, as it can be a sign of an imminent failure.
5. Strange Noises
Clicking, grinding, or revving noises coming from the torque converter are a sign of a mechanical problem. Have it serviced immediately.
6. Contaminated Transmission Fluid
If the torque converters’ moving parts come into contact and grind against each other, the result will be contamination of the transmission fluid. Chances are, this problem will lead to other symptoms like noises and shuddering, but it may be subtle enough that it’s not detected until the fluid is checked.
A transmission that’s overheating can be caused by a failing torque converter. If the converter’s seals have gone bad, the fluid used to transmit power from the engine to the transmission could be leaking. A drop in fluid pressure will cause the transmission to overheat. Of course, the leak could be somewhere else, so check for a fluid leak before replacing the torque converter.
Torque Converter ProblemS And How TO Fix Them
At K&L Clutch, we provide only top-of-the-line torque converters from brands like Twin Disc, Allison, Clark, American, Link Belt, and Manitowoc. But in those rare times when problems arise, our unparalleled service department can get you back up in running again in no time — whether from our home in Hurst, Texas, or just about anywhere in the world you need us to be.
Take a second from time to time to inspect the torque converter for visible problems like fluid levels, pressures and clutch adjustment to catch potential problems before they exist, but know that we’re here for you when more serious problems arise.