Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Transmission leak after shop replaced transmission

So the crazy story goes that this car is new to me. A family member on vacation was visiting and the transmission went out on the 2010 Santa Fe with 170K (2.4L FWD early production). So another family member gave her their old suburban. She subsequently decided that they were not going to fix the car and signed the title over to me to junk or sell. I decided to fix the car and give my higher mileage car to another family member.

I got a salvage yard transmission and it was delivered to the shop that was going to do the swap. They installed new seals (input and output) and new filter. The torque converter from the salvage transmission was also used. The source car only had 80K miles on it. The shop I have never done business with before but was recommended by my brotherinlaw. My brotherinlaw is like me and typically DIY all repairs when time permits. I personally would have done the swap but lack of free time constrained me from doing it. My current project is rebuilding a ford V10 in a shuttlebus. That is a big job and I don’t have the time for two major repairs at once.

I picked it up this weekend and drive it to work on Monday. I noticed a oil leak under the car at work. After I got home I crawled under the car to check it out and it is new red transmission fluid leaking from the bell housing area which would lead me to believe the input seal is bad. I have called the shop and left them a voice mail.

Given the labor and materials for the swap was $600 I am not sure what to expect and there is no way for me to verify what the problem is. I suspect that it is a bad seal install job (factory seals were ordered) or maybe the wrong seal. What I really want to avoid is paying another $600 in labor for the seal to be replaced. I get it that if the seal is faulty that it is not the mechanics fault but I also know from my years of wrenching that it is easy to damage a seal like this when installing. Another possibility is that they overfilled the transmission and that excess fluid was pushed out? There is also the possibility that the transmission or torque converter was damaged in the accident. Ugg this is why I typically always do my own mechanical work. When I run into these issues that I know happen, there is nobody but myself to blame.

It would seem like the shop could be at fault. It is easy to damage the seal when installing it or even inserting the torque convertor. The convertor may also have a groove worn into it that won’t allow the seal to do its job. Did you check for a worn input to the convertor? Did they?

THAT would be a sticky issue since you supplied the parts. In any event, it’s gotta come back out to fix the leak. Be prepared to spend another $600 because I expect the mechanic will blame the parts and not the seal installation and how can you argue that?

I never saw the transmission. He inspected it and said everything looked good. I agree that a grooved torque converter shaft could be to blame but any competent mechanic would notice this prior to installation. I supplied the transmission and torque converter but not the seals. He informed me that they were dealer only parts and the swap was delayed a couple days due to ordering these factory parts.

Generally I agree but I had a similar experience with a rebuilt rear axle. One shaft had a wear groove that allowed the fluid to leak. The hard part, new pinion bearings, was perfect, so he was competent to do the tough stuff just missed (or thought it OK) the seal groove

I finally talked to the mechanic. He said that there was no noticeable groove on the torque converter and that the input shaft seemed tight. He said he would stand behind his work so I an hopeful he is honest.

1 Like

Is the transmission over-filled? That should be pretty easy to check. I expect sometimes transmission repair shops will overfill them a little, b/c they observe in test drives they seem to shift better when a little over-filled. Another thing that might be fairly easy to check, the transmission probably has some kind of air vent at the top. Check to make sure that isn’t plugged or the vent hose pinched. Time could be a solution also. The seal may eventually seat better, or there may be no seal problem at all, just that some transmission fluid got spilled at some point, and that is now dripping down onto the ground. With a little investigation/patience, there may be a simpler solution to this than removing the transmission again.

Just to provide a update. The guy took it apart. He could not determine if it was a damaged seal or leaky torque converter. remember it was a salvage yard unit. he recommended replacing the torque converter and I finally found one that was only $150. He got it all back together and said that it is leak free and I don’t owe him anything.

Should I feel guilty? Working with used parts there is no guarantee and unknowing if it was a faulty seal install or bad torque converter I feel somewhat guilty for him doing a redo for free. Granted this redo has now taken about a month to resolve.

Thoughts from mechanics out there?

Not a mechanic but offer my opinion anyway :slight_smile:
You have a working car for around $600. I would get a gift card to a local steak joint for $100 and give it to him to take out his wife, SO or friend. At $700, you still have a great deal and he is not left without any compensation for the follow on work…win-win.


Sounds like a great mechanic. Very helpful. I agree, some sort of small gift is in order. Be sure to recommend your friends, family, and co-workers to him when they need similar work.

The guy did right by you, whether it was his mistake, or just a bad used part. He’s probably hoping you will spread the good word about him

I agree that you should show your appreciation with a minor gift, or perhaps a gift card

Give him a good review on yelp and/or angies list