Transmission help

I have a co-worker who just can’t catch a break. She bought a used Ford minivan 5 months ago, bought an extended warranty…Anyway today she had to leave work to go let the appliance repair man in to fix her washing machine…on the way she See’s large white cloud erupt from under her van. She calls me and I tell her to pull over and shut it off. She calls a tow truck and they take it to the Ford dealer who tells her she had a hose break and has done damage and needs X, Y and Z. Well of coarse she can’t afford it, times such as they are. Can she just get the hose replaced and refill try it? The dealer of coarse NO,DON’T DO IT.

If you want help with this you’re going to have to give a pretty detailed explanation of what the dealer says is wrong and what they propose to do to fix it. None of us can see the van or inspect it - so how are we supposed to say?

With the information you gave us, we can’t really help you either.

I have had several hoses blow from time to time, and never needed a new engine or anything like that. If she stopped the car IMMEDIATELY, there MAY be no engine damage.

If she can afford to spend about $150 or so for a new hose and antifreeze, she might be able to keep driving.

Dealers often don’t bother diagnosing the exact problem; they replace everything in sight and hope that solves the problem.

I had this type of thing happen on a Chevrolet and luckily was close to a garage. The total charge for hose and coolant was $100 or so. IF engine damage was incurred due to a blown head gasket (VERY COMMON with this vehicle), she might as well walk away from the car, we’re talking a lot of money.

I would hope the extended warranty would at least cover part of any damage done.

Well, now she’s going to find if that “extended warranty” is worth anything. Was this a coolant hose that broke, dumping coolant? I’m a bit confused by your title “transmission help”. As long as she shut it off before the engine temperature started to soar, I would think that little or no damage was done (just replace the hose, check the condition of the others, and refill the cooling system). How long did she keep running the engine after the event?

I take it the Ford dealer in question isn’t the one who sold it, or has the extended warranty? They may be just trying to pad the repair bill. Whoever issued the warranty should be picking up the tab for the repairs. Depending on how the warranty is worded, consequential damages (knock-on damage from overheating) may not be covered, and they may claim that she contributed to the damage by not shutting off the engine immediately.

I’m trying to think of how the transmission could produce a large cloud of white smoke – did the dealer say it was the transmission? Did a hose associated with the transmission (say, to the cooler) break and spray fluid on the exhaust? If she kept driving with transmission fluid gone, that could ruin the transmission pretty quickly.

The transmission fluid cooling line to the radiator might have broken. And if that’s the case, replace the line and fill it with tranny fluid and see what happens.


I don’t see anywhere on here that anyone said that it was a transmission problem. I’d bet it was a coolant hose and if she shut it down verry shortly, she probably just needs a new hose and coolant.

Sounds like she saw the cloud,continued to drive,finally got you on the phone and you said PULL OVER but to late.

Post back we would all like to hear about the specifics and the warranty rejection.

We can help her make decisions on the repair.

Post every detail you can think.

I’d bet it was a radiator hose too but the title said “transmission help”.

As has been said, this question has so little useful detail that nobody can advise properly. The OP needs to find out:

Which hose?
What type of damage is alleged?
What parts are “X, Y, and Z”?
Refill? Is this a reference to the cooling system, or the transmission, or…?

The way that this question is phrased is sort of like someone writing to a medical advice forum, stating that a friend has a pain in an undisclosed area of his/her body, and then asking if that person needs surgery.

The line that blew was a transmission cooling line, I believe.

Here is the best info I can give. The dealership told her that it is a trans cooling line break/rupture. There is “black” “clutch fluid” in the trans or trans area. My co-worker asked well whats broke? they then stated we won’t know until we take the trans apart. She then asked how do you know anything is wrong aside from the broken line. They would give her an answer.

The dealer needs to be more forthcoming about their warnings of impending doom. If the trans cooling line ruptured, see Tester’s advice above. However, this does not square with a “white cloud”, in my mind, which indicates, to me, that there was severe cooling loss also. Black or red ATF by itself does not usually emit a white cloud of smoke.

What does the dealer say about the cooling system? I see no reason at this point to authorize breaking open the transmission. I do see telling them to repair the hose, fill with ATF and let’s see how the trans reacts to that.

In the absence of any more info, I would tow this vehicle to an independent, trusted transmission shop, or other garage facility.

Well, if that cooler line broke then most likely ATF got onto the exhaust manifold. This is the reason for the smoke. If the remaining fluid in the trans is now black then the transmission has basicly burned up. For the fluid to turn black, the trans had to get very hot (Overheated) and the clutches/band/s are damaged. The main question here is whether she is being given a story or not. I can tell you this for sure, if the cooler line broke and the remaining fluid IS indeed black, the transmission is damaged no matter how you look at it and they are doing the right thing by recommending a tear down. If the fluid is NOT burned then tear down is questionable.