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Burnt ATF and transmission bands

recently my automatic 2005 elantra starting kicking into gear only between 20-30 mph I had it checked and found I was not only very low on fluid but it was burnt. We had slid into a ditch 2 weeks ago and had to wait hours for help and the car was idling almost the whole time could I have damaged my transmission? Do I have a pan to drop for a atf change. The oil lube place I went to said I should have it flushed but I read this is not to good to do especially as I have never had it done before and I have over 100,000 mi.

Don’t go to an “oil lube” place go to a mom & pop mechanic and tell them you want a “drop & fill” on the transmission fluid and you should be back in business.

Being very low on fluid, having burnt fluid, and shifting problems means the transmission is damaged.

Forget flushing; this is closing the barn door after the horses escaped.
For future reference, you should change the transmission fluid every 30k miles and then the odds of suffering a transmission problem will go way down.

(And I’m fully aware that many car makers may not even recommend a fluid change until a 100k miles or never; whichever comes first. This is one of the things they do to give their vehicles the appearance of being more “maintenance free”. When the transmission, or whatever else fails, the warranty is up anyway and the car owner is stuck with the results.)

The idiling condition did not damage your transmission.

Just so that you don’t think that you are getting three different, contradictory responses, let me say that Jeff, ok4450, and oldschool are all correct. To whit–

Your transmission fluid should have been changed LONG ago.

If you value your car, you should not entrust it to the people at Jiffy Lube or any of its clones.

The transmission is likely damaged, based on the description of the fluid (low and “burnt”).

The problem did not result from idling, but rather, from lack of maintenance.

To ammend what I said previously,

If the transmission really is damaged then dropping and filling with new fluid won’t necessarily put you back in business.

Regardless though, you are supposed to drain and replace i.e. drop & fill trans fluid, never flush.

If the trans is till acting up then you should let a professional take a look at it. Again, avoid Chains/Dealerships, try for an independent i.e. mom & pop mechanic or independent trans shop. Good luck.

I’m with everybody else here. No, Idling in a ditch did not burn up your transmission. It was low on fluid due to a leak somewhere which was not addressed. Transmission started slipping heating up and burning the fluid. This oil change place is trying to make $$ off of you on a flush which would be in vain. ok4450 put it right by saying closing the barn door after horses escape. The slipping which ocurred severly damaged the friction material on the clutch plates. The trans needs to be rebuilt along with the cooler flushed. In the future, service the transmission every 25-30k miles. Automatics need to be properly serviced every 25-30k miles!! I dont give a rats tail-end what the owners manual says. If you want it to last, give it a fighting chance by servicing every 25-30k. In your case, a service would most likely cost $100 a pop. Thats about $300 in the 100k miles you have driven. You’re about to find out what a new or rebuilt trans is going to cost. This could have been avoided by first, properly servicing and inspecting for leaks during oil changes. Good luck.


how long can I drive this vehicle if I am very careful when going into 2nd it’s not as bad, also it doesn’t clunk at all when it’s cold only after driving about 5-10 minutes.

The damage has already been done. Now the question is how much more the repair will cost if you continue to drive it.

Also, you should factor in the “inconvenience” factor when (not if) the car strands you in an inconvenient location on a cold night. As the old saying says, “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later”. Later is always more expensive.

It’s possible that sliding in the ditch could have damaged something on the transmission (axle shaft seal, pan gasket, etc.) and started it leaking.
After several weeks the fluid level had dropped enough for the problems to start surfacing.

A careful examination of halfshafts, pan, etc. might reveal some skid damage if it exists. If this is the case, and if you have full coverage insurance, maybe? you could hit your insurance company up about this; especially if you have a police report, tow truck receipt, etc. The most they can do is say no.

Considering the mileage and history nothing less than a full rebuild would do.

thanks everyone for your answers, lots of good advice. There’s a pretty good shop in town that has always treated me fairly I’ll try them. thanks again.