2001 Kia Optima



August, 23, 2010 AT 10:02 AM

Transmission problem
2001 Kia Optima 4 cyl Front Wheel Drive Automatic 86,000 miles

I am back here again! Lol. This forum seemed to be the only place I can actually find useful kia answers. I am sure if I went to a dealer and had 200 bucks to spend they could diagnose it too ^_^. I am a graduate student with 30k in loans as is, so I am hoping to God this is just a fluid issue.

My new problem is, when I first start my car (and this just started in the last few days), it won't shift into reverse, I have to go down to Neutral, and then back up to reverse and THEN it will shift. Often times when doing this, it is very jerky going into reverse that way. Also, over the last month or two, I have noticed that while driving, the car shifts gears a little more rough than it used to.

I cannot find the fluid for the ATF, so I could use some help there. I know it probably needs flushing. However, this is all accompanied by a recent noise I hear while driving over 20mph. Its a humming or whining, not terribly bad yet, but getting worse. Could this also be from fluid?

I don't see any ATF fluid on the ground from my car, or oil of any sort. So unless something else besides a leak is taking the fluid away, it " shouldn't" be low. I just can't seem to find without getting it up on jacks, where my ATF dipstick (if I have one), is, or where I could add some fluid. I have 0 dollars to get Kia to look at this at the moment, so =(. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks so much!


5 Answers



August, 24, 2010 AT 12:48 PM

Hi captgeech21,

See diagram for dipstick location.

Symptoms does not seem to indicate a fluid issue.

Get a free scan done at Autozone to see if any toble codes arer present.



August, 26, 2010 AT 12:30 AM

That design was exactly what I was looking for. Fortunately, I talked with my family mechanic and he told me the Automatic transaxle dipstick was the ATF dipstick, something that was confusing me a bit.

I topped it off with some fluid as it was a little bit low, and it started shifting better.


I took it to my mechanic to be safe and get the fluid flushed, and as he test drove it, and put it on the lift to drain the fluid out, he said I had a bearing going bad in the tranny. The tranny is leaking fluid just barely at the bottom, he said near some sort of junction plate. He said the noise im hearing while driving is a bearing going bad and that it could end up lasting another year, or a month.

I am really in a fix. He said just to get the tranny serviced at a transmission shop, it would be as much as putting in a used one, and he said both have their positives and negatives.

I am looking at 1500+ either way and neither will be a brand new transmission which is looking to be over 2500 dollars.

I don't know what to do now. Whether to try to get a new car and deal with a payment, or just keep this until it breaks down.

Any thoughts on my chances of surviving with this current transmission problem or recommendations on fixing it for a bit less?

Thanks again for the diagram!



August, 26, 2010 AT 6:46 AM

You're welcome.

If it is some sort of whiny noise and the leak is not too bad, the trans might still last. The leak from bottom could be anything from spilt fluids while topping up or a leak in the torque converter seals.

If you are thinking of replacement with a used one, then why not use it till it fails? Who knows, the bearing might work for a long time to come if the fluid level is correct.

Without understanding what could be wrong, I am not able to provide any suggestions for repairs and if the leak is minimal, It could be a seal and that could be from the CV shafts, line pressure test bolts ( retightening might work), loose hose joints or the shift lever seal. These would not be too expensive to repair as the trans need not be removed.



August, 26, 2010 AT 10:14 AM

I mean, my only option to repair it seems to replace it with a rebuilt or remanned or a new transmission, so you are right, I may as well drive it until it becomes noticeably worse.

It is just a low whining/grumbly noise, its only noticeable over 35 mph, and it isn't unbearable yet. Although, I did forget to mention to you, that when my mechanic pulled the plug from the tranny, I guess it has a magnetic end? And as he described it a lot of little shards of metal had build up on the magnet. But he said the same thing you did, it could wear itself into a groove and last another year or more if im lucky.

I guess I will wait it out, as with school loans, and cost of living, and being a full time master's student with almost a full time job and barely making ends meat as it is right now, I severely am under cashed at the moment and can't afford a tranny job, or for that matter a car payment.

Thanks so much for your input, it is so scary to be alone out there when this stuff happens. Having even one ear to listen and professional advice no matter how great or small, is so nice.

I can't thank you enough. '




August, 26, 2010 AT 10:37 AM

The drain plug has a magnet attached to its end to trap debris and some if the trapped debris are not very big pieces, then it is not much of a worry as it is normal to get them.

Good luck

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