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Mechanic says auto trans fluid change is too risky and will ruin the transmission

So my wife got this 2007 Mazda 6 S Sport Value Edition 3.0L for free from her cousin. He doesn’t remember when was the last time he dropped the car for maintenance. God I hate this guy so much…
While looking through the dealership maintenance and repair bills I found that the last maintenance was performed at 12k miles. There was no oil change whatsoever, auto trans fluid was marked as “condition”.

There has been a burnt smell coming from underneath the car ever since I picked it up from Utah and drove it to CA. Some people told me it could be some plastic bag stuck somewhere so I thought it was just that. I don’t drive auto trans but I have checked the transmission fluid myself, it was dark, so I took it to a transmission shop and the owner checked underneath the car and spotted leaks and suspected that it could be the “main seal” or something. He says it would cost about $1300 to fix this.

He also checked the dipstick and told me the transmission is already burnt at this point at 142k miles if a fluid change has never been performed. I could drive it till it dies, or change the fluids but said that it was very risky to do this.

He also recommends a complete inspection in order to determine the overall condition of the vehicle, because he also saw coolant leaking. After that I can probably decide either to fix or sell the car, but who’s gonna buy a car like that?

Everything he said makes sense, but it doesn’t hurt to do a little research and keep asking, so I am here for more opinions on this matter. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Auto trans fluid color

Another leak…

It’s risky for him to do the transmission fluid exchange, because severely neglected transmissions are just waiting to die, and if it dies soon after he does the exchange, you’re going to blame him for killing the transmission and he’s going to have to deal with that.

It is not risky, assuming he does an exchange and not a flush, to change the transmission fluid at this time, but be aware that if the transmission really has been neglected and hasn’t had a fluid change in almost 150k miles, it’s fairly likely that you are going to have transmission problems soon whether you change the fluid or not.


I agree with @shadowfax . The mechanic doesn’t want to catch blame if the transmission tosses its cookies soon after he services it.

However, I’m not convinced its inevitable that its going to die soon, especially if its serviced. Unlike the old days, modern transmission fluid holds up better, and color and smell aren’t always a perfect way to diagnose how bad it is. Some smells horrible soon after it is put in but it is still okay.

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If the fluid or the transmission is worn shouldn’t the fluid smell burnt too? It doesn’t, at least not too me. Should I go ahead and change the fluid then?

Is the leak in the first picture engine oil or transmission fluid . It appears the leak is where the transmission bolts to the engine so could be either ? Is the engine full of oil & the transmission full of fluid ? Did you have to add either on your drive ? Does the leak leave drops or a puddle on the ground when parked ?

How much will it cost to have the full inspection done? If it is $100 to $200, it might be worth it to see if you can afford what has to be done, not what might be nice to get done. You might get a second opinion on the must-haves if you want to keep the car.

Did he explain the risk of replacing the transmission fluid? I mean a detailed explanation as opposed to “it might fall apart” or something like that.

What makes you sure that no work was done since 12,000 miles? Just because you don’t see a receipt doesn’t mean nothing was done. You might be right, but it is difficult for me to know without being there with you.

You got the car for free. If it really is a bucket of junk, sell it to someone and be straight with them on what it needs. Anything you get beyond the evaluation fees is profit.

I think the the inspection should be around $150. The car drives well, like any other auto trans vehicle I have rented. The only issue was the smell which is why I took it to the transmission shop. I dunno if any work has ever being done but the last receipt was on June of 2015. My wife’s cousin went overseas a while ago so he doesn’t remember. That’s the only receipt in the car and he only takes it to the Mazda dealership for repairs.

My wife loves the car, and I suspect the only problem is the transmission right now. I am planning on selling it and get a manual transmission vehicle instead, if I can’t afford the repairs.

The shop owner didn’t explain anything else other than it was too risky to replace the fluids. He also added that if you drive all the way to 130k miles without servicing the transmission you will have to rebuild it. Oh boy…

Does seem strange to hate someone that gives you a free car .

No spots on the ground. The transmission shop owner said it could be the “main seal”. Don’t know what that is. I haven’t added any fluid ever since I got the car.

I don’t really hate him but it stresses me out that he is always clueless about anything you ask him, not just about the car.

I couldn’t stop by a shop to have someone inspect the vehicle at that time because I was in a rush. I planned to arrive just in time to go back to work on Monday.

I arrived to Utah in a Saturday night, and drove back to CA for 13 hours, paid for registration, got the parking permit, only to find out later the car is trash.

[quote=“Triathlor, post:12, topic:93932”]
only to find out later the car is trash
[/quote]Huh? Is that a hypothetical statement or have been further developments?

The wife loves the car. All other opinions are now voided.

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Hypothetical statement

Mazdas are nice cars and fun to drive. However, this one seems to be completely neglected and could require many thousands of dollars in repairs.

Therefore, I agree with others that OP should spend $100 or so to get a professional inspection and then determine what to do with the car. Changing transmission fluid and filter makes sense, in spite of what the scared mechanic says.

If it is marginal the wife should just drive this machine into the ground; after all it was a freebie

Sounds great Docnick, thanks! :sunglasses:

Reference to main seal typically refers to the oil seal in the engine , in this case the rear main oil seal . Many vehicles seep some from this seal & if it’s not leaking enough to leave drops on the ground I wouldn’t put it as a top priority right now .
Many people say using high mileage oil may stop this leak . Valvoline Max Life is one that comes highly recommended .
As far as your coolant leak goes , from the picture I’m not sure what those hoses are connected to but I wouldn’t think it would be a high dollar fix .
I’ll leave suggestions for the transmission for others . There is too much debate on high mileage fluid changes for me to recommend anything .

It is going to die either way, I would do the change, expect the worst and hope for the best. Good fluid in there will be better than bad fluid. imho

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Exactly that! the rear main seal! hum I will check if there are any drops on the ground in an hour. Crossing fingers.:scream: