Transmission Leaks: Identifying Problems That Require a Transmission Re-Seal
Transmission leaks in your car or truck can have devastating and expensive impact on your vehicle. Your transmission is one of the most important components in your car or truck and transmission repair is one of the most expensive repairs you may ever have to undertake. Your transmission transfers power from the engine to the tires through gears to get your vehicle moving.
Without the transmission your car’s engine would be overworked and would eventually overheat. Your transmission also interacts with various moving parts of your car and many problems that can arise in a vehicle originate from the transmission. That is why it is very important to identify problem, such as transmission leaks, as early as possible.
Red flags to look for if you think your transmission isn’t performing the way it should be.
- Irregular shifting
- Changes in transmission fluid levels
- Clutch failure
- ‘Check Engine’ light is on
Some Of The Most Common Problems Begin With Automatic Transmission Leaks
A transmission leak most often appears as small red fluid spots under a vehicle. These spots are one early symptom of a problem which may ultimately require transmission repair. Transmission leaks never take care of themselves and normally get worse, however, immediate attention can minimize this problem. Left unattended, automatic transmission leaks may cause your transmission to fail.
Transmission Fluid Is Literally The Life-Blood Of Your Automatic Transmission
Automatic transmission fluid lubricates, serves as a hydraulic fluid and helps clean and condition the seals of your transmission. Most automatic transmissions hold 7 to 13 litres of fluid. When transmission leaks develop, fluid is lost. With less fluid, the pump has trouble maintaining pressure and less protection is available to the transmission. Modern transmissions can sense a loss of fluid pressure. When this happens they may re-direct fluid from the lubrication circuits to the hydraulic circuits in order to keep the vehicle moving. While this does keep the vehicle in motion, it can also cause severe damage to your transmission. This is one reason why leaks are so dangerous. They can result in a burned out transmission.
Pressurized Transmission Leaks
Diagnosing transmission leaks is easier with a bit of understanding. Some leaks will occur only when the engine is running. These are pressure related transmission leaks. Seals and connections that are pressurized when the engine is running are the first place to check. This type leak may be less noticeable when your vehicle is parked as they typically don’t leave spots under the vehicle. A physical inspection may be needed to determine whether there is a problem. Areas where these kind of leaks typically occur are, the front pump seal, the cooler lines, side covers and sensors.
Cooler Line Transmission Leaks
Cooler lines and hoses connect the transmission to the cooler and are a common area for pressurized leaks. Transmission leaks in these areas often show up after someone has tampered with the lines. When flushing a transmission, mechanics often remove these lines and, if not properly replaced, leaks may result. Replacing a radiator also involves disconnecting these cooler lines and this too may also cause a leak. A front-end collision, even minor in nature, may bend the lines or move the mountings, causing transmission fluid leakage. All of these pressurized leaks can result in a significant loss of fluid, compared with gravity type leakage.
Fluid Level Or Gravity Transmission Leaks
Other points may tend to leak when the vehicle is parked for an extended period of time, like overnight. Common examples are the pan gasket, the fill tube seal and the shifter lever seal.
When the engine that has been running for a while finally stops, fluid remains in the torque converter and various drums and clutches of the transmission. This has the effect of lowering the fluid level in the pan. When the engine stops running, gravity very slowly pushes these fluids back into the pan of the transmission.
While it is normal for the fluid in the torque converter to drain back to the pan, when the vehicle is not driven, it can cause the fluid level to rise to such a degree where it may reach higher points in the transmission. This is why some leaks only occur, or are much worse when the vehicle sits for a long time. If your vehicle is driven every day, fluid is pushed back to the converter and the level stays lower. Under these conditions, the leaks may not show or may be far less severe.
Because the pan is usually the lowest point in the transmission system, many leaks appear to originate there. In reality, they may be leaking from higher up and running down to the pan. This type of mis-diagnosis can results in pan gaskets being needlessly replaced and misdiagnosed leaks persisting.
Another frequent cause of transmission leaks is the over-tightening the pan and side cover bolts. Over-tightening bolts will only crush the gasket and perhaps bend the pan. Not only will it not stop a leak, it may create a leak that did not previously exist. The threads in the aluminum transmission case can also be damaged by over tightening bolts.
Front Wheel Drive Transaxles
Front wheel drive transmissions are prone to more leaks that rear wheel drive transmissions are. They usually also have axle seals and side covers that may leak. A front wheel drive transmission also includes the differential. This makes leaks even more critical, due to the high load on these components. A lack of lubrication will quickly damage the transmission and differential.
In Our Experience, Stop-Leak Never Repairs a Leak and Is Likely To Create a Much Larger Problem
While it might seem inviting to add stop-leak to a leaking automatic transmission, you should never do this. Stop-leak works by swelling the seals. Unfortunately internal seals may also swell and a complete transmission re-build may become necessary.
The best way to prevent automatic transmission leaks is with proper transmission servicing. New fluid contains seal conditioners that help keep seals pliable and prevents leaks. Having a professional perform the service also prevents additional damage from improper servicing.
When properly diagnosed, many transmission leaks are easy to repair, when. Once the source of the leak is found a new gasket or seal is usually all that is needed. Best have a specialist that knows automatic transmissions advise you.
At GTA-Auto you will get one of the best transmission repair services in the Kitchener-Waterloo Cambridge area. The technicians working at GTA Auto are trained in state of the art transmission repair and will perform the necessary tests to properly diagnose your transmission problem and estimate the correct required repairs the first time.
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