Tranmission failure due to fluid leaking

Just before the 4th of July I had new U-joints installed on my 2004 Yukon XL. On Friday July 17 while driving from Dallas, Texas to Grand Forks, North Dakota the transmission failed due to all the fliud leaking out. The mechanic in Grand Forks installed a rebuilt transmission and took the Yukon for a test drive. Since we had returned from Dallas to Grand Forks the car sat in his lot for 2 days. The mechanic then noticed the new transmission wasleaking fluid. Upon further investigation he discovered grooves and nicks on the Yoke which he attributed to my Dallas mechanic causing when he installed the U joints. He also said this is what caused the seal to fail and the fluid to leak out. He installed a new yoke on no fluid is leaking out. Before I go talk to my Dallas mechanic I would like a second opinion on this theory. One other thing. The same Dallas mechanic did a major tune up 4 weeks before installing the U joints that included a tranmission service.

You need to get a written statement from the Grand Forks mechanic. Not just a bill but a written statement of the U joint job impacting the seals and causing the leak. Did anyone take pictures? Did you keep the old parts? Evidence, evidence, evidence is needed to support your claim that the Dallas shop is liable.

Then you need to home and look at the area where you had parked the car after the U joint job prior to the trip to Grand Forks. If there was a transmission fluid leak you should still see spots or a large puddle of the remains of the fluid. After any major service you need to check for leaks, the Dallas shop will ask you if you saw any evidence of leaking.

Depending on the shop and your business relationship with them you may get some satisfaction. I’m not expert enough to know if the U-joint job really affected the transmission seals. Taking out and replacing U-joints isn’t that complicated on most cars, perhaps the Yukon is finicky. It seems unlikely to me that dropping a drive shaft to replace U-joints would cause this much trouble.

I did keep the old part and there is evidence of fluid leaking from the rear of the Yukon in the driveway. There is no problem getting a written statement from the Grand Forks mechanic. I need to know if it’s worth talking to my Dallas mechanic. I have many vechiles, have been using him a long time. He is honest and I don’t want to piss him off, but if his work did cause the problem I feel I should talk to him. Between the second trip to Grand forks and the new transmission, this cost me many thousands of dollars.

I believe most shops have insurance to cover honest mistakes. It seems that you have evidence and documentation. The question is how to approach the owner or manager? Do you start with a lawyer, or with a heart to heart talk. This decision depends a lot on your abilities to “confront” without abuse and the manager’s ability to listen and accept responsibility. Since you have a long standing relationship with the garage and more business potential for the future it benefits both parties if something can be worked out agreeable to each. It seems you have a valid issue.

Can you post a picture of the damage on the yoke?? If the mechanic put the yoke in a vise for instance and damaged the surface of the yoke it is entirely possible it also damaged the seal and/or tail housing bushing. A failure of either one of these would definately cause the ATF to leak out and destroy the transmission.


If he did put the machined surface of the yoke in a vise and damaged it, then re-installed it thinking it would not leak you were dealing with a really bad mechanic or perhaps a unsupervised trainee.

Just my opinion, but it’s the duty of the mechanic who installed this rebuilt transmission to inspect those things (yokes or whatever) BEFORE he sticks them back into the vehicle.

If the Dallas guy replaced the U-joints and installed a damaged yoke into the transmission, he’s at fault.
If the Grand Forks guy installed a new transmission and blindly reinserted a damaged yoke then he’s at fault also. It’s his job (a.k.a., duty) to inspect a part before reinstalling it.

Absolutely correct.