Transaxle Dilema

I own a 2006 Buick LaCrosse (74,000 miles) which created a grinding sound from the engine compartment. Convinced it was a transaxle problem, I had a national transmission repair facility evaluate the noise. The noise was originating from the power steering fluid pump.

Along with the fluid pump, I asked for my transaxle to be serviced. The mechanic reported that the transmission fluid was scorched and varnished. Also, I was told that replacing the transmission fluid would result in serious transmission problems.

I was advised to continue to operate the car with the existing transmission fluid, and when the transmission starts to “slip” or “whine” I should report back to have the transmission overhauled.

Is this accurate information?

You should go to another and more reputable transmission shop, and ask for an exact assessment, unless the vehicle is still under warranty, then go to the dealer.

What level was the fluid at when the shop checked it? This is an important question.

If the transmission fluid is indeed scorched, it should be replaced at once (along with the filter) with the fluid as recommended in the manual. Not changing the fluid will definitely cause transmission failure in the near future. If that shop changed the fluid, and your transmission failed soon (because it was already failing anyway), they do not want to be blamed. You can do your own test, just put a drop on a white paper towel; it should expand to the size of a silver dollar and be uniform color (pink) and have no deposits whatsoever in it!

It’s hard to imagine a transmission failing at this early mileage unles it was neglected or abused somehow. It might still be under warranty, please check you manual.

P.S. Are you talking about the transmission or the transfer case?


Thanks for the reply. I checked the fluid myself (following the owner’s manual for the proper procedure). The fluid was full, however it was the carbon black in color.

I have had the car since mile one. I do live in Arizona where we have extreme heat in the summer. The car has never overheated or approached running hot. I can attest that no erratic or abusive driving habits existed.

The local shops charge in the vicinity of $120 for a transmission fluid and filter change. If I pursue the transmission fluid change, will I be wasting my money?

Thanks. The transfer case was never mentioned.

The fact is, when you service a worn transmission that is on the verge of failure, the fresh fluid and filter CAN clean out the varnish that is sealing the internal servos and actuators against major leakage. Transmission shops don’t want to be blamed for the failure so they tend to shy away, knowing the Tranny is not long for this world.

But at 77K miles, your tranny should have some life left and if it were mine I would have it serviced. Just don’t blame the shop if it fails a week later.

No, you would be wasting a great deal of money if you did NOT change the fluid and filter. Your hot climate puts all the more stress on the transmission. If you were towing a trailer, you would have had to install a tramsmission oil cooler to keep the unit from burning up.

The $120 is about right for the fluid and filter change; I was just quoted the same amount by my local shop. It’s a small amount compared to $4000 for a transmission overhaul.

Most posters here change fluid and filter every 30,000-50,000 miles for maximum transmission life. Even if you fluid was not dark, I would still be changing it! And check the level regularly.

Good luck!

I would also service it. More than likely I would have the pan dropped and filter changed, and then do full fluid exchange. If getting things cleaned out somehow leads to failure, the failure was there already. I would find a good local - non national chain - transmission shop to have them do the fluid and evaluate the situation including how this happened to begin with.