About an hour into our two and a half hour trip from Philadelphia to our cabin in the Poconos, the automatic transmission in our 2001 Ford Windstar skipped several times, and my son noticed a slight oily mist trailing us on the turnpike. The car still was driving OK, so we kept going. An hour later, we were going up a steep long hill and there was a noticeable lack of shifting by the transmission and a heavier plume out the back. We pulled over as soon as we could (at the top of the hill) and the back of the car was covered with an oily mist and liquid was dripping out the bottom. It was impossible to tell where it was coming from, as it seemed to be coming from everywhere. The oil level was fine and the coolant was good, so we let it cool a bit, then thought we would drive the 8 miles remaining while we figured out what to do. The car started fine, but would not go forward nor in reverse. We got towed the three miles to repair shop that was closing in three hours for the weekend and they said they would look it over in a little while and call us. They called right before closing and said they looked it over, and the transmission just overheated, so they drained it and refilled, and it seemed to hold, and we should be OK. I picked it up and drove for about 6 miles, and it didn’t slip, shifted well, and had power. In the 20 hours since their repair, there is no spotting on the ground under the car. I can’t imagine that there wasn’t a leak that had to be fixed (a seal, a hose?), and now I’m wondering if it is safe to drive the two and a half hours home tomorrow?
Is this possible that the transmission simply overheated and once refilled, it is all set to go? (But where did it leak from if it didn’t blow a seal.) We had never changed nor checked the fluid previously, though maybe our regular mechanic had checked it, but I doubt it… Maybe the fluid was low in this 10 year old car and that caused it to overheat? Eh?