Nobody wants to see red transmission fluid leaking from underneath their vehicle. Not only is it annoying to see your garage floor stained, leaking transmission fluid can end up costing a lot of money if it is not taken care of promptly.
Most people understand the fact that leaking fluid is the first sign of a problem and typically equate the issue to something that is going to cost them a ton of money. Although an expensive transmission repair bill can follow leaking fluid, this is typically not the case. As long as the problem is taken care of right away, generally leaking transmission fluid is a relatively inexpensive fix. Continue reading to learn the typical causes of fluid leaks, the average repair bill, and how to prevent damaging your vehicles transmission.
The 3 Most Common Leaks
Although there are multiple places on a vehicle where transmission fluid can leak, the 3 most common include:
- Pan gasket
- Cooler lines
- Output, tail, or torque converter seal
A few other sources of leaks that are not as common include a rusted trans pan, damaged torque converter, external sensor housing, tail housing gasket, side cover gasket, filler tube, cracked case, etc. These are not typically as common, unless you are driving an older Ford Taurus with the AX4N or AX4S transmission, as these are notorious for grooved torque converters which will cause excessive fluid leaks.
How To Properly Diagnose The Leak
If you are able to locate the transmission from the underside of your vehicle, typically leaking fluid can be spotted relatively easy. However, the root cause of the fluid leak is often more difficult to discover and where you may be seeing the fluid leak could be deceptive.
Remember: Fluid is going to leak down the transmission due to gravity and the wind blowing underneath your vehicle is going to blow the fluid everywhere.
To properly locate the source of your transmissions leak, you must fully clean off all fluid from the entire underbody of your vehicle and add dye to your transmissions system. After ensuring that your vehicle has been filled to the proper level with fluid, you will want to put some miles on your car (varies depending on extent of leak) to pinpoint the source. Typically, 30-40 miles should be suffice, but with very slow leaks don’t be surprised if you still can’t see fluid after 100+ miles.
Remember: If you are leaking excessive amounts of fluid you may damage your cars transmission due to running it low on fluid
If you are unsure of how to do this, you should contact your local transmission specialist to have this work performed to ensure proper diagnosis. This will prevent wasted money on parts that don’t need to be replaced and expensive repair bills due to running your vehicle low on fluid.
So What Will This Cost Me?
The average cost for a leaking pan gasket can average anywhere from $150-$250 depending on the type of vehicle you drive. Cooler lines can average anywhere from $200-$750. However, we often see vehicles repaired for even less and very rarely see vehicles that exceed the high end. Tail seals and output seals can average around $125-$275, while torque converter seals will be much more expensive because the transmission will have to be removed.
Prevent Much Costlier Repairs
Although no one wants to deal with a leaking transmission, taking care of the problem early on will often save you thousands of dollars. Running a transmission low on fluid is fastest way to cause internal damage to your cars transmission and will end up costing you big time!
What To Do
- Check your vehicles fluid level before driving
- Have your vehicle inspected immediately
- Flush your vehicles transmission fluid (to eliminate any dirt or debris that may have entered the system)
What Not To Do
- Continue driving
- Add stop leak (this will cause major problems such as swollen seals and should never be used!)