CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Transmission Rebuild Leaking Fluid

My Automatic transmission was rebuilt 2 years ago, now it’s damaged again, the original mechanic who fixed it, examined it today and states that damage was caused due to a leak of transmission fluid, but the transmission rebuilt warrant is only for one year. (funny how those things happen isn’t it :slight_smile:



How can this be? I’ve put 30k miles in the last 2 years, is this leak due to normal wear & tear or due to improper installation of the seals or improper work in the transmission?



The mechanic seems like an OK person, but still, a leak on a rebuilt transmission after two years?



Your thoughts and opinions much appreciated





First, the problem with asking here is that there are lots of different places than a transmission can leak from. One common spot that really has nothing to do with the rebuild is the cooler lines. So we don’t know where the leak is and thus it is difficult to comment.

Even if the leak was from seals, a parts/labor warranty on such things that goes more than 90 days is pretty rare. Should seals/gaskets/whatever after a rebuild leak after 2 years? I’d say not. But it does happen.

So the real problem here is that - even if there was some warranty for a couple of years - it is still the job of the vehicle owner to keep on top of basic things. One of the most fundamental things is fluid levels. It is possible to have a sudden, catastrophic leak that could damage a transmission. But, in general, if your transmission is now damaged from driving it with low fluid then it is really only you on the hook for it.

I understand that, but the place I take the van to for oil changes, they check all the fluids as part of their multi-point inspection. I actually stopped in their shop when the transmission was slipping and they were puzzled about the leak themselves since I’ve been taking my car to them for the past 5 years.

Well then, IF the van is leaking trans fluid, AND that is why it is slipping, then you’re still stuck. Just b/c a place offers some kind of “check all the fluids” service doesn’t mean that they do it or that the people who work there are qualified.

Is it a quickie lube type of place? If so, I’m surprised that you still have a working engine. Stay away from those places. I’d not be surprised if they check transmission fluid at the same time that they check the oil (which is impossible since the van has to be running to check the trans fluid but can’t be to check the oil).

When did it start slipping? When you first noticed it slipping (or doing anything else that is odd) did you check the transmission fluid? You’re still the one driving the van around with low fluid & a slipping trans no matter what you think you paid someplace to do. Is the fluid now up to level?

On that note, has anyone actually shown you a fluid leak? Did you notice any signs of a leak? Perhaps it is slipping and the rebuild shop is blaming it on a nonexistent leak? Where is the leak?

It is also the case that you can destroy a transmission in a matter of minutes if it is slipping. You could drive out of your lube place with perfect fluid level, spring a leak in a cooler line 5 minutes later and have a dead transmission a few minutes after that.

No one here really has enough specifics to give you anything definite.

The shop performs all types of repairs, it’s not a jiffy lube or similar. The transmission was working just perfectly up until Thursday when I was returning from work, it started slipping so I took directly to them, from there it was towed directly to the repair shop that did the original re-built. They couldn’t look at it until this Morning. From the time I noticed the transmission slipping until it was towed to the original shop the van was probably driven 20 miles.

And no I haven’t seen the leak, I talked to the shop manager this afternoon via phone, I will likely look at the van tomorrow, and find out where the leak is coming from, etc. for now I have a rental car for the week.

Do you know if they just got fluid into it to see if the trans still functioned? I once did have a catastrophic fluid loss that led to the trans slipping. I had it towed, the leak was repaired, the trans refilled and I drove it for many many many more miles without incident.

How far did you drive it to get it to your regular shop and how badly was it slipping?

Continuing to drive the car with a slipping transmission will ruin the transmission PDQ and this has likely damaged it anyway.

A properly rebuilt transmission should not be leaking within 2 years. The issue in my mind is the source of the leak.
Assuming the transmission proper is leaking and it’s not a leaking cooler line issue, etc. there could be a number of reasons behind a rebuilt transmission leaking; all dependent upon where the leak is.

Getting a little rough while installing halfshafts, a bit too much manhandling of the transmission and skewing the torque converter a bit, etc. are a couple of them. It is possible to nick a seal doing things like this and it may take time for the problem to appear.

Like ok4450 said, a properly rebuilt transmission shouldnt have any leaks after only 2 years but unfortunately you are a year past the warranty. You’re probably going to have to eat this one, I seriously doubt the trans shop would work with you but you might want to ask, it couldnt hurt. If this were one of my rebuilds and a part I replaced on it caused the failure so early, I would be inclined to offer SOME sort of help. Bottom line though, it is the owners responsibility to properly service the transmission. That means, checking it for leaks also and repairing such leaks.

transman

So I’d say we’re all in agreement about the whole thing then.

Hopefully the OP will keep us up to speed on exactly what is leaking but driving 20 miles with a slipping transmission could be a real transmission and deal killer.

Thank you all for your responses, the issue of cooler lines possibly leaking keeps coming up, however, aren’t they also replaced when the transmission is rebuilt? The issue of proper maintenance also keeps coming up, the first 4 or 5 months after I got the transmission rebuilt, I was monitoring it very closely to see any signs of slipping poor performance, etc. same thing the last month of warranty and nothing it was running like a champ, also I believe the service manual calls for transmission fluid change every 50k and I’ve only put a little under 30k.

With regards to warranties, legally, a warranty applies to properly completed work or services, it is not an umbrella of amnesty for improperly performed work or services. In my line of work I can perform improper services which will no be evident until 16 or 18 months, or 24 months, etc. using a 1 yr or 3 yr warranty defense won’t get us amnesty if it is evident that improper or poor work was performed.

I’m not saying the mechanic performed a bad job, the transmission was running perfectly up until this past Thursday, but I am a bit surprised that a “leak” is the issue.

It now looks to me like you’re just looking for people to say this was probably due to an error/mistake/etc. on the part of the mechanic. There is absolutely no way for anyone to say so. Its very unlikely that you’d be able to get another shop to say anything about it even if they are able to inspect the vehicle.

Cooler lines are not part of a rebuild. They are external to the transmission and just thread into the outside of it.

If the leak is from something rebuild related - as I said above - it should not be leaking. But that is irrelevant. 12mo/12K miles is very typical and it is the way it works. As transman noted, what you have to go on is asking for good will from the shop.

But you (and certainly not we) have no idea what actually happened. You could have had a piece of road debris hit a cooler line and cause a leak in which case this has nothing to do with the work. Maybe you were careful and maintained carefully. Not every problem comes from this.

In the end, the dead transmission is on you. You are the one who drove it while slipping.

You sound like a lawyer, but this isn’t a court. I’m not sure what you’ll get by continuing to try to convince us that this is your mechanic’s fault. If you only want to get answers to questions that what you wanted to hear, try another board.

Or, just wait. Get the full and entire story on what is leaking and perhaps why. See what the rebuilder has to say about it. Then people can say more.

I don’t understand why you are being so defensive and accusatory. I’m not trying to convince anyone, just doing my homework, trying to get educated opinions on what would cause a rebuild transmission to leak under 30k miles. As I stated several times already, the transmission was working just fine, no complaints, that is why a leak seems so odd.

If you don’t like my response to the blanket statement of warranty, then you need to get your head out of the sand, a warranty is not a big rug to cover up dirt. For example if you purchased a home with a 5 year warranty and 10 years later as you’re trying to sell it you discover that the builder used unapproved materials that have asbestos and other cancer causing subjects, would y ou accept the “it’s out of warranty clause” ? … I thought so.

If the shop has a 1 year warranty and a problem develops on day 366 they are under no legal obligation to do anything further.
The same logic applies to any item from a small portable TV or vacuum cleaner to a brand new car and there has to be a line drawn somewhere. If not many will want that warranty extension to stretch from 1 year to 2 and on to 3 and then 4…
Believe me, that happens quite often.

At this point we still don’t know where the leak is and cooler lines are not routinely replaced during a transmission replacement. The same could be said for not replacing the radiator (which has a trans fluid cooler on most cars) or an external fluid cooler. If they’re not bad they do not get replaced.

Find out what’s leaking and we’ll go from there.

Well, if you’re not a lawyer, then you’re a judge.

Anyway, regardless of anything else, you need to get actual facts.

You need to locate the source of the leak on your vehicle.
There are so many possible places, we can’t go any further in our diagnosis until we get that key piece of information.

Then, you need to get the shop to tell you what caused the leak at that location.
If its an actual seal point on the transmission for a rotating part (think torque converter main seal, or half-shaft output seals), then you will want to know why those seals leaked. Was it a nick on the shaft that caused it? What caused the nick? Is that a part they replaced when they rebuilt the transmission?

Or is it a connection point that leaked?
Maybe the dipstick tube cracked, and fell off.
Maybe the cooler line was loosened by a client of yours who didn’t like the job you performed for them.
Maybe its your neighbor who hates the fact that you keep suing them because their oak tree leaves keep landing on your property, and you are charging them for cleanup.

We don’t know what happened to your truck.
By the sounds of it, you don’t either.
Get the word from your shop, come back to us, and we can then give you our non-professional opinions.

BC.

I’m in Tacoma WA, it is early in the AM, hopefully the mechanic will call me back before noon with a more detailed explanation of t he source of the leak. As I stated earlier, we own a flower shop and use the van to deliver flower arrangements, wedding cakes etc. so we drive it pretty reasonably as to not screw up the cargo.

I’m sorry that you took what I said as “defensive and accusatory.” My intention was neither. You have a page full of responses that basically say this incident is not as simple as “the rebuilder did something wrong.” Yet you persist along that line, so to me your responses were something in the family of “don’t confuse me with the facts.” I have nothing to defend. Nor is that an accusation. Its just how I am interpreting it.

Hang around these boards for a while. People frequently come by hoping to hear one thing, are told another thing, and then go away annoyed b/c they didn’t hear what they wanted. Maybe its not what you’re doing - whatever.

Get the facts about what happened. Report the facts about happened. Then an actual conversation is possible.

There have been a number of trans problems with the Odyssey. See: odyclub.com forums.
Did they rebuild your trans, or install a rebuilt replacement?

I bought a 2002 ody, unaware of the transmission issues. The Honda Z-1 fluid can’t stand up to the heat, and I’ve changed it out to amsoil synthetic atf which seems to hold up well. Good luck with your battle…

One thing that can cause a transmission leak on a rebuilt transmission is a groove worn into the torque converter nose by the pump seal. A rebuilt trans should get a new converter but if the old converter was reused and the groove was deep enough…