Driving without transmission fluid

Yesterday I picked my car up from the shop from getting the flywheel replaced. When I was driving home I got about a half a mile down the road and my car started smoking. I was stuck at a really long red light so couldn’t pull over right then. So I drove to the nearest gas station which I barely got to because my car wouldn’t shift gears. And when I got out of the car I noticed a BAD transmission leakage running from the shop all the way to my car. It was COMPLETELY empty. I called the shop and they said all they had to do was refill the fluid and that that they forgot to put something back on. Should my transmission still be okay from driving it with no fluid?? I don’t really trust the shop my car is at and think they would let me drive off even if they knew there was a problem.

I’m assuming this is an automatic. Have them refill it and try the result out for a week or two. There’s a good chance everything is fine. Maybe somebody here can offer some tips on how to test the xmssion by doing various procedures, like driving it in 2nd gear, manually shifting to 1st, listen for unusual sound, testing the downshifting on acceleration function, etc.
Since this shop cannot be trusted, it is a good idea for you to personally verify the fluid level yourself by looking at the dipstick before you even leave the shop, then several more times through the day and week as you drive the car, until you are convinced the level is ok and holding steady. You might ask the shop (or probably better, a different one) to test the xmission fluid pressure too.

I expect you already know this, but best to avoid this shop in the future.

I definitely won’t! We used them because they were $500 cheaper than the other shops. But now I know why. They do things half way. And when they took it back to the shop they said it would take about ten minutes to refill it. But then after a hour passed they told me they had to keep it over night because they had to order a part?? They were supposed to have called me today, but never did. They closed two hours ago and never heard from them. So just guessing that they did something more than they are telling me…

You state flywheel but that would apply to a manual transmission. If it’s assumed you mean a flexplate then it’s an automatic and your transmission is damaged goods to some extent.

An automatic can be ruined in seconds from loss of fluid so you should document all of this; just in case. Offhand, I’d say that some shop is going to be owing you a transmission in spite of assurances to the contrary.

Can you give us the vehicle info, make model, year, auto or manual ?

It’s a 2005 Jeep Liberty


I think @ok4450 is right. Very high chance of transmission damage.

It sounds like one of transmission line “quick connect” fittings on the transmission failed or was damaged. If the transmission fluid is discharged all at once, the transmission will no longer engage, usually no damage. But if you try to continue driving with the transmission slipping the clutches will burn. When you said it wouldn’t shift did it stay in low gear with the check engine light on or was it slipping?

+2 for @ok4450. I think damage was done especially if the transmission was smoking.

@Navada_545 it was slipping. And you’re right, picked it up and they said that it was the quick connect.

The smoke was from transmission fluid on the exhaust system. Driving with the transmission slipping is not good but it will probably be drivable after refilling with fluid. Time will tell if the transmission will fail. I doubt they will offer you a replacement transmission, you may want to go somewhere else and have the fluid and filter replaced and the pan inspected for debris.

Review and verify what warranty you have on this repair. Towards the end of the warranty period, you may want to have them inspect and document in writing that their inspection said the AT was OK at that time, or repair what may be found to be wrong/out of spec. This situation has the possibilities to go south over time.