Transmission Leak (Common Problem?)

Tiny
ON3POINTKING
  • MEMBER
  • 1997 PLYMOUTH BREEZE
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 130,000 MILES
I went to the dealer to get my oil changed due to a large leak in the front of my car and, long story short, after a couple 'second opinions' my transmission is leaking.

One of the technicians said this was a common problem on these models? Is this the case? If so, which parts typically cause the leak so I can replace them when I replace the hoses (which is another long story).

Yeah, I know, silly thing to do, but since parts take 1-2 business days to order (even at the dealer) I appreciate having a little direction to go on.
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Friday, July 1st, 2011 AT 3:28 AM

9 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
No, this is not a "common" problem, although when I worked for a very nice Chrysler dealership, all we saw were the same models of cars over and over because that's what we sold. And of course we saw the same problems over and over so naturally they would seem common.

The most likely thing to leak would be the transmission pan. They don't use a gasket. The dealer has black and gray silicone sealer. If the cooler hoses are leaking, they can be rather difficult to replace because of tight spaces. Axle seals can also leak. That requires removal of a half shaft to replace them.
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Friday, July 1st, 2011 AT 7:59 AM
Tiny
ON3POINTKING
  • MEMBER
Ok, makes sense. AutoZone, NAPA, and everyone else sells pan gaskets would I be able to stick one of those on without screwing something up, or should I stick to the sealant?

Thanks.
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Friday, July 1st, 2011 AT 2:23 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Two different ways of doing the same thing, assuming of course it's actually what is leaking. I prefer the sealant myself. Cork or fiber gaskets work fine as long as you don't over-tighten the bolts. That will cut the gasket and cause a leak. Tightening the bolts with one hand on a 1/4" drive ratchet is plenty of force to do the job. Over time fluid will seep out through the gasket material. That wetness can be mistaken for a leak.

The sealers I used at the dealership take a little longer to use but they create a more effective seal. What you must watch though is even if you've had the pan off for hours, there will be transmission fluid dripping from the back edge of the transmission. Once you have all the old gasket material thoroughly cleaned off both surfaces, there must be no oil on them when you install the pan. If you use the black sealer, it absolutely will not bond and seal in any area there is a film of fluid. That will result in a leak. Every mechanic has his favorite trick to get that fluid to stop dripping just long enough to install the pan. (Put the bead of sealant on the pan, not the transmission where the fluid will run on it). If you're replacing the filter at the same time, once that is done, and you get the fluid to stop running down for 10 - 15 seconds, quickly slap the pan in place and start tightening the bolts. It's okay for fluid to run onto the sealant after it has made contact with transmission surface.

Use a rag and brake parts cleaner to clean the pan's sealing surface before you put the bead of sealer on it. Use that brake parts cleaner on the transmission too, then watch to be sure no transmission fluid runs onto the gasket surface before you get the pan in place. To address this concern, I'd recommend asking for the gray sealant instead of the black. It cures a little harder where the black stuff stays a little more rubbery, and it's just a fuzz harder to remove, but it will seal and bond through a light film of transmission fluid in case you overlook it. It's still a good idea to keep all sealing surfaces clean.

With either sealer, they take about 15 minutes to skin over but you can fill the transmission with fluid right away. It can take a couple of hours to fully cure. By that time you can be on the highway already.
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Friday, July 1st, 2011 AT 9:42 PM
Tiny
ON3POINTKING
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Hm. I suppose I'll just need to look and see whats up. By the way, I took a picture of the ground underneath my car, after 5 hours of the car standing still. It looks like it stretches across the bumper. Does that signal it might be one thing over another?
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Saturday, July 2nd, 2011 AT 4:17 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
That would more likely be a leaking hose going to the cooler in the radiator. The fluid will run along the body sheet metal under the radiator and drip out all across the car. If the pan was leaking, you would find the fluid just inside the driver's side front wheel.
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Sunday, July 3rd, 2011 AT 2:31 AM
Tiny
ON3POINTKING
  • MEMBER
Yes, that's what I thought. It just seems like there are puddles to far away from where the cooler lines run, but I'll just have to examine things when I get the chance. Question, when I replace the lines, are they under pressure or can I just pull them out without worrying about fluid going all over the place?
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Sunday, July 3rd, 2011 AT 5:03 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
There will be a little fluid dribbling out but the engine has to be running for the transmission's front pump to send fluid to the cooler, and it doesn't even get up to 10 psi. That's enough to make quite a mess, but only if you disconnect one while the engine is running.
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Sunday, July 3rd, 2011 AT 6:37 AM
Tiny
ON3POINTKING
  • MEMBER
So, going into this, I never thought getting the hoses re-installed to the oil pan would be the easier part; sadly this has turned out to not be the case.

You might remember awhile back when I swapped out a radiator( http://www.2carpros.com/questions/1997-plymouth-breeze-coolant-leak ). For whatever reason the new radiator's transmission coolant line 'connectors' have a flair at the end MUCH larger than what the transmission oil pan has.

I've managed to get each hose on about half way on the radiator before they won't budge in either direction.

I guess my question now is: There is enough room for a hose clamp on them, will that work? If not, how can I either remove or fully install the hoses without continuing to degrade them.

Finally, I have damaged the hoses a bit, all over the connector, will they still function?
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Monday, July 11th, 2011 AT 3:37 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
You need some magic elixir called Silicone Spray Lube. The Chrysler parts department has it under their Mopar brand, and you can get it from any auto parts store or hardware store. It sprays on like water, evaporates quickly, and leaves a film of "slippery" behind. Slide the hoses on before it evaporates. It makes rubber parts slide REAL easily over metal parts.

As for the hoses that are part way on, use a cotter pin puller to pull the end of the hose up a little so some lube will run in there. A cotter pin puller is a pick with the tip bent at a 90 degree angle.
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Monday, July 11th, 2011 AT 6:26 AM

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