Cracked Transmission Housing 12 months post-accident

Our parked 2002 Chevy Silverado was hit by a sleeping driver going at least 45 mph. The truck was pushed two truck-lengths into a lamp post. Extensive damage, which was repaired by a shop approved by driver’s insurance company.

Fast forward to now, one year later. We started experiencing problems with a vibration, so we took the truck to our regular mechanic. Mechanic says that there is a crack in the transmission housing that started out small, but has grown now to a problem that is manifesting symptoms. Mechanic is of the opinion that the only way the damage could have been done was a major collision. Truck as been in no intervening accidents.

Driver’s insurance company is now denying our supplemental claim that the transmission problems were caused by the accident of August 2010 and overlooked by insurance company and repair shop.

Is there anything else that could cause this damage to the transmission? This is a very expensive repair if we have to pay out of pocket. Willing to put up a fight with the insurance company, and will be filing a claim under our own to see if they will cover the repair and go after driver and his insurance company for subrogation.

Only through metallurgical failure analysis with some expensive and complicated equipment (think: scanning electron microscope) could you ever prove the origin of the crack. Cracks can come from inclusions and/or exclusions in a housing casting, and therein lies the problem.

However, in small claims court you only have to provide a better argument than the opponent provides. The burden of proof is much lighter. In this case, I think you’d win. Having the mechanic’s opinion in writing, perhaps on the shop order, would go a long way toward bolstering your arguement. Have him take photos as he goes too. And dig out your accident reports to bring with you.

Also check with your insurance. They should be able to help you in this.

I’m an attorney, so I am aware I could go the small claims route against driver and his insurance. I’m hoping that filing a claim under our insurance will result in the repair being covered.

Mostly, I am looking for other opinions as to the likely cause of the problem with the trans. Our lives would be much easier if we can get coverage and let insurance companies battle it out.

Thank you!

Is the crack were the trans and transfer case bolt together? Chevy trucks have a problem cracking there if you drive on a bad U-Joint. So I would say if the drive shaft or U-Joints were damaged and were missed in the repair. It could have caused this.
I am surprised that with it being hit that hard. That the trans work at all. The parking paw should have been broke. Also was hit in the rear or front by the other car? Was the frame bent?

The accident is the most likely cause but I agree it would be impossible to /prove/ that it was the one and only cause.

Update: Our insurance covered the trans repair, although we were denied by the insurance company for the person who hit us.

Thanks for all of the helpful opinions!

You’re Welcome And By The Way, You’ll Be Receiving A Bill @$150/Hour Consultation Rate. I’m Glad This Had A Happy Litigation-Free Outcome.


For what it’s worth and for future reference, accident caused damage to an engine, transmission or rear axle is not really that rare.

To cite a personal example, many years ago I was in an accident in which my Corvette became a total wreck. The engine was untouched and ran fine up to the point of impact so I pieced the wreckage out and sold the motor.
After installation that motor smoked like a prairie fire and burned a quart of oil per 5 miles. A subsequent teardown revealed that impact forces applied to the tiny amount of crankshaft end play had caused the breakage of several pistons and rings.

Most insurance companies, adjusters, and even body shop people will either not believe or admit to accident induced damage to a mechanical part like this.
Odds are the crack in the trans case was caused by stress on the parking pawl.

We had a van, it was pushed onto a landscaping boulder via fed ex truck. We got compensation via security tape from the parking lot as the truck driver had no idea the rear end of his semi did that to our van. 6 months later the trans went out. Had it rebuilt and had to add a quart of fluid every 500 miles on a road trip right after the repair, and wipe the blow off off the back window. No possible compensation from anyone,and after the 3rd trans repair for leaking,under warranty we traded it in. The shop said something was a little out of line, not sure what, would continue to honor the warranty but it would probably happen again. Deniable plausibility lost us any claim, was it related to the accident, damn sure, could we do anything, hell no.