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

Transmission Problems - Please Help!

My mechanic replaced my axles and the axle seals - then 4 months later the car stopped working. Turns out the axle seals have failed and the entire transmission needs to be replaced/ rebuilt. I have a warranty for the axle seals so it would seem that this warranty should cover the new transmission, since the axle seals breaking were what caused the transmission to fail.

But the mechanic is now saying that the axle seals broke because of the bearing, and therefore he is not responsible for replacing the transmission. He claims there’s no possibility that the broken axle seal they installed could be what caused the problem with the bearing. Is that true? I don’t know whether the bearing got messed up first and caused the seal to break (like they claim), or if the axle seal they “fixed” broke and then caused the bearing to break, eventually ruining the transmission. If the latter is true, then they are responsible for the transmission failing, right? Is there any way to prove what caused the transmission to fail?

I think he is just trying to get out of having to honor the warranty and pay for a new transmission. But I don’t know if there’s any way to prove this, other than it being my word against his.

I really appreciate any advice! Thanks!

I can tell you right now that a warranty on any part is not all inclusive when it comes to problems so a failed seal will not get you a new transmission courtesy of the seal manufacturer. The odds of a seal failing are just about zero. The odds of an improper seal or axle installation causing a problem are much higher.

There’s simply not enough detailed info known to be able to guess with any degree of certainty what happened here. Year and miles of the vehicle, how badly the seals were leaking before and after they were replaced, whether the trans fluid was checked at various points, whether the axles were fully seated when installed, etc, etc. are things unknown to me and which may have a bearing on the problem.

The gut feeling is that someone made an installation mistake of some sort or overlooked something while doing this work but a gut feeling is all I have.

Thanks for your response! I don’t know all the details, it’s a 2004 Hyundai Accent with 108k miles on it. Is there any way for a mechanic who sees it in person to prove that the seal wasn’t installed correctly and that that’s what caused the carrier bearing problem? Or is it just completely my word against this mechanic’s?

I’m pretty busy today but will weigh back in this later this evening. Hopefully someone else can add a bit of input to this too.

No one will be able to answer that here. This will take eyes on by an expert. Even then, it depends on the damage found. If the inspector can find damage that could only have been caused by a bad installation, then your in luck, but it is just as possible that the subsequent damage destroyed the evidence of an improper installation.

Both CV axles were bad? How so? Torn boots or Making noises? IF bearings were so bad as to be the cause of worn axle seals, why didn’t the mechanic say so when he changed axles? U don’t usually change axle seals when u change axles. Was there a connection that the mechanic saw and said nothing?

Keith is correct on all points. About the only thing that can be done here is to speculate on something like this.

If the original seals were leaking badly then it falls upon the mechanic to make sure the transmission is full of fluid or oil before handing it over to the customer. Failed carrier bearings could point to lack of lubricant or someone botching an axle shaft change.

A real pro may be able to get their hands on it and sort it out as to what really happened but as keith said, it’s also possible at this point that the current damage wiped out all traces of negligence.

One scenario might be if the outer transmission case is currently dry and clean but the lubricant level is low. That could point to the transmission not being filled after the seal and axle job.

A leaking seal usually leaves puddles when parked and seeing the puddles most drivers would have the problem investigated and corrected. Also, as a transmission leaks it usually causes some intermittent problems before total failure. But regardless, incidental and subsequent damage are not covered by a warranty.

This is a fwd car. The seals leaking caused the trans to drain? Of all fluid? When did you notice a good amount of stains under car? 1-2 qts low will cause almost all trans to shift poorly. U surely should have noticed strange behavior?

Axle seals where the left and right driveshafts enter the transmission housing? A very loose, badly failed bearing would have made noise to warn you. Was it noisy? Also, chances of both final drive bearings inside your transmission failing at the same time seems remote. I have the view that your mechanic is trying to weasel out of standing behind his work. Ask why both left and right bearings failed after he worked on it. 108k miles is too soon for final drive bearings to fail if there was no loss of lubrication. These are on a low speed application where failures are very rare and even aggressive driver abuse would cause something elsewhere in the driveline or engine to fail first.

Sure, you got a warranty that does not apply when your mechanic comes up with whatever excuse he can think of that sounds plausible. Have you thought of DIY? If not, hold that guy’s feet to the fire until he makes it right or gives reasons that can stand up to scrutiny here on Car Talk.