2004 Grand Priix 171,000 miles

Hi folks,

I drive this car on average 1000 miles a week for work. I’ve had it for 3 years with no problems and should probably be counting my blessings.

In the last three weeks I have had the following work done:

1. New Tires

2. Transmisison Service with fluid change

3. Oil Change

4. Thermostat and coolant flush

5. Tune up

6. Fuel injection service with throttle body cleaning

7. PSV replacment

My brother is replacing my front struts today and most likely the roters and break pads as well.

Needless to say this has been kind of pricey. I still owe $12,000 on the car and have awful credit.

I need this car to last me another 2 years at the very least 3 would be better but I’m starting to panic. Actually, I’m way past panic.

During my oil change yesterday I was told my oil pan and gasket are leaking and that I was 3 pints down on tranny fluid though there was no leak.

I’ve had it in the transmission shop twice in the last three weeks and at the garage twice as well. They’ve never mentioned the low fluid or rusty oil pan.

I have a few questions.

1. Where could my tranny fluid be going?

2. I see no oil drips when I park. How long could I wait to have the oil pan and gasket replaced? I want to do it right away but I have other repairs I need and little cash.

3. Is it very dangerous to drive for a month without replacing my rear struts? I just need a little time to gather more money.

I know a lot of this is regular maintenance that I should have been keeping up with but it feels like everything is falling apart all at once and I would like to fix as much as I can before it gets worse.

Thanks for any input.

WOW, and congrats for getting this far. You have obviously done well in your service program. I see more and more cars with 300,000 miles every day. Go for it, and keep up the good work.

I have to wonder why you’ve had it to the tranny shop in recent weeks…

In an earlier post I told of a customer of mine who took his Taurus to a Meineke center and was told, among other things, that he needed a new oil pan gasket. It had encrusted dirt clinging to a TINY bit of seepage. You seee no oil drips when you park. Fogettaboutit.

Has anyone else checked the tranny fluid? Someone who isn’t wanting to sell you some tranny fluid? Oh well, you’ve already had it topped off during the change. You didn’t see any drips. Fogettaboutit.

You can probably drive for YEARS with bad rear struts. Does the bouncing bother you? Is it safe? Not as safe as new non-bouncing struts. Are they really bad, or just a little naughty?

I’m assuming that you drive this way for your job. Is any of this mileage reimbursed by your employer? If so BANK all of it that you don’t spend for gas and insurance. That way when something BIG happens you’ll be able to handle it.

I’ll second MG’s congratulations.

  1. it could be leaking from other than directly the tranny. It could be leaking from its cooling system either internally (if the tranny cooler is incorporated into the radiator) or externally (check lines, fittings, tranny cooler/radiator). If your setup has a vacuum modulator, it could also be being drawn into the engine intake.

  2. The reason you see no drips could be because the oil is being pushed past th eold seals/gaskets by pressure in the crankcases only when the engine is running. It’d be normal for a high mileage engine, but check your PCV valve anyway.

  3. if it feels okay it’ll not be dangerous to drive it with tired struts. Just don;t drive as if you were in a closed circuit road race. And leave plenty of room for evasive maneuvers.

I too wonder why it’s been in the tranny shop lately. ???

Many times an oil pan leak can be misdiagnosed and are you saying this pan is rusty enough that it’s leaking? Live in a northern rust belt state like Ohio or something?
One thing that could be considered is the possibility of a leaking oil pressure sender. These are inexpensive, prone to leaks with age/miles, and can present themselves as an oil pan leak.

If the transmission is really losing fluid and there are no obvious external leaks then it could be losing fluid through a leaking transmission fluid cooler. (inside of the radiator)
Is radiator sludge the reason for the cooling system flush? If so, maybe trans fluid is the cause of that.

Those items you mention are normal wear and tear items for the car’s mileage but the fuel injection service and throttle body cleaning may possibly have been something that may not have been absolutely necessary. If the car was apparently running fine then it really did not need this service.

A month on weak rear struts should hurt nothing.

Yes, you’re upside down financially on the car and you’re not alone. It’s a tough spot to be in and if there is any way possible you should try to keep this thing going for another few years. Trading an upside down car off simply makes you even more upside down.
Hope some of that helps.

About a month ago I noticed it shifting hard from 1st to 2nd gear. It would only happen after I had driven for a while and rarely at that. From a stop, when I pressed the pedal slightly it would shift very hard. If I eased up on the accelerator it would shift and run great at highway speeds.

I took it to the garage where they couldn’t find any transmission concern or codes. They suggested the other services to try to fix the issue. New plugs, wires, Fuel Inj Service, and my check engine light had just come on- so new thermostat and coolant flush.

Several days later the car was still shifting very hard and more frequently. I took it to a transmission shop where they found no problem or codes. They did a fluid change and found nothing to be of any concern.

Several days later the car was shifting hard more frequently.

I took it back to the garage where, after driving it, the very nice man suggested it was in my head. I’m a 33 year old woman but I am NOT crazy! :slight_smile:

He finally hooked up the computer and found P1811 code stored in the memory. He suggested I not worry about it but I am prone to worry so…

After researching the code and finding that PSV issues matched my symptoms I called the transmission shop and they offered to look at it again for free.

It was bad and they replaced it. It has been running like a dream so far.

Actually- While checking the car at the garage after the transmission fluid change he did mention I was a quart low. He topped that off for free. Now, about a week later the fella at Valvoline said I was 3 pints low. He also topped it off for free.

The rear struts are bouncy but I’ve seen worse. My mom limped her cars through newspaper route delivery for years when I was a kid! I’m just hoping leaving them won’t damage something more expensive. I’d like to prioritize the work I need to get done.

I am working myself into a dither about the next thing to go.

I’m socking away my expense checks right now!

Thanks again for the input!

I do live in Ohio! That was a pretty good guess. :slight_smile:

I really appreciate the input. Thank you.

Another possible place the tranny fluid could be going to is the engine. If the vacuum modulator for the transmission is leaking then fluid can get sucked into the engine though the vacuum line to the modulator and burned up. Have a shop check to see if that line has signs of fluid inside it. If it does, then you have found the culprit. From the amount of fluid that is being replaced this is a pretty bad leak. A leaky modulator could explain some the problem you were having with the shifting also.

Edit: After reading through the posts I see TSM has already mentioned this thought. It would be my prime suspect for this problem. After doing some checking on this it appears there is a modulator for the transmission.

No sweat. Sometimes having something suggested in two different ways helps. My explanations can, I’m told, be hard to understand at times.

Um… I don’t think an '04 Grand Prix even has a vacuum modulator. They’ve kind of gone the way of the dodo in recent decades. Everything is electronically controlled. If I’m wrong, transman will know.

Hi folks,

I had tried to log back in but couldn’t get my user name to work. Anyway, an additional note:

I took my car back to the transmission shop where they looked and could not find a leak. They said this car does not have a vacuum modulator. They checked the radiator and there didn’t seem to be a concern. Their suggestion to me was to just keep checking the fluid and adding more if it was low. This is a pretty reputable shop but I am still wondering, should I be concerned?

And now, yet another question. Last week my check gas cap light came on along with my SES light. The code was PO455. I had already replaced my gas cap a few weeks ago. I took it back to the garage where they couldn’t find anything obvious. They reset the code and asked for me to drive it a week to see if it comes back on. Any ideas what this might be?