1999 Honda Odyssey Tranny fluid and coolant fluid mixed

Tiny
EGGHEAD
  • MEMBER
  • 1999 HONDA ODYSSEY
  • 6 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 149,000 MILES
We have a 99 Honda Odyssey EX. Tranny was replaced for the second time at 142K miles. Comes with a 3 year / 36K mile warranty. We hit a deer a couple months back after the tranny was replaced. Repairs included radiator along with headlight and grill and hood. Bumper painted.

About one month ago the tranny cooler line inside radiator failed along with the radiator. Almost all radiator fluid ran out before my wife got home from work. It had a reddish milky look to it, so I knew that it must have had a tranny cooler line fail in the radiator. Had body shop tow van and replace radiator and flush both coolant system and tranny.

All seemed OK until New Year's Eve day on a day trip to a local state park about 30 miles away. Final approach to the park requires driving about 2-3 miles up a steep incline. Tranny quit functioning about 3/4 of the way up the incline. Had none of the 4 forward gears or reverse. Had to coast backward down the narrow road in neutral to the bottom and turn around at the only side road and then forward coast it to the side of the road.

Tranny was hot but fluid was full. Let it set about 1 hour and it again functioned OK. Drove it home without incident. I inspected the coolant reservoir and it had some left over tranny fluid in it in the bottom of it. Also looked at the tranny fluid on the dip stick and it looked what I would recognize as normal red. Took it to the body shop for them to clean out the coolant reservoir before I took it to Honda dealer.

Honda dealer took the car and provided us a loaner. Called me shortly after and told me I had tranny fluid in the coolant and coolant in the tranny. I told them what occurred and the tech immediately gave me the boiler plate response of "who knows what damage that caused and he did not feel the warranty would be honored". He also would not give me a definitive answer whether getting coolant in the tranny could lead to any kind of tranny issue.

Also, something to note, which you probably already know, is the 99 thru 2004 Odysseys have had lots of tranny failures and multiple replacements like ours.

Took car back to body shop and had them flush both the coolant system and the tranny and it seems to be functioning OK.

So, my question is whether or not any tranny issue of any kind could result from temporarily having coolant mixed with the tranny fluid?

Thanks a lot - Egghead
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Friday, January 4th, 2008 AT 3:36 PM

2 Replies

Tiny
MERLIN2021
  • EXPERT
I woill state that you will be very blessed, not just lucky if some clutch damage hasn't already occured, transmisions don't run on antifreeze and vice vresa, but it's much harder on a tranny, and a shaky honda automatic to boot!
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Friday, January 4th, 2008 AT 4:28 PM
Tiny
MERLIN2021
  • EXPERT
From: egghead
To: merlin2021
Posted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 10:05 am
Subject: 1999 Honda Odyssey Tranny fluid and coolant fluid mixed
Merlin,

Thanks for the reply. So, it is clear you are saying I need to be concerned. The Honda installed tranny had a 36K / 3 year warranty, but the dealer says he won't honor it since the fluids were mixed and he feels there is no way to tell what damage that caused. There was 30K / 2.5 years left on the warranty.

Some questions for you:

1. Are there any diagnostic / physical tests that could provide accurate results about what damage has already occurred, besides opening up the tranny? Would opening up the tranny help solve the mystery?

2. Based on how this situation was created, and based on your experience in the auto repair industry, do you think the body shop should have to handle the tranny repair liability for the next 30K / 2.5 years since the new radiatior they installed failed and caused the coolant to mix with the tranny fluid and vice-versa? I understand the body shop did not build the radiator, but I feel that is there own liability issue to take up with the radiator manufacturer.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks - Egghead

My opinion is that if the body shop installed the radiator, contact your insurance company and tell them about it, say you feel the shop may have improperly installed the radiator, may have overtightened the lines, and this caused your current problem, they will have an adjuster look into it. Yes some one is liable, not you! And yes like I said, I think the damage is already done. A tear down of the tranny will reveal the condition. Tell the adjuster you want it fixed!
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Thursday, January 10th, 2008 AT 1:34 PM

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