We’ve all been there, right? You leave to go to work or go run errands and as you pull out of your driveway you see a noticeable puddle of god only knows what kind of fluid that has leaked from your car. This is never a welcomed surprise to any car owner. This unfortunate event not only leaves an unattractive stain in your driveway it also leads you to wonder- what is wrong with my car and how much is this going to cost me?
What is a Transmission Fluid?
When you think of the important parts of your car, transmission fluid is probably low on the list of what you deem as an essential piece of your car’s puzzle. In truth, transmission fluid is equivalent to the blood in our veins. Transmission fluid is vital to your car’s ability to run.
Transmission fluid lubricates all the moving parts in your transmission. With an automatic transmission, this lubricant also acts as a coolant. This syrupy thick fluid transmits power from the engine to the transmission. In manual transmissions (yes, people still drive manuals) a variety of fluids are used- in some cases, automatic transmission fluid is used, regular motor oil or heavyweight hypoid gear oil. Always check with your owner’s manual to confirm what you should be using on your specific car.
Transmission fluid should be changed every 60,000-100,000 miles for an automatic transmission but changing it more often won’t hurt. For a manual transmission, it is suggested to change the transmission fluid every 30,000-60,000 miles, if under heavy use it should be changed every 15,0000 miles.
How to Tell You Have a Transmission Fluid Leak- What are Transmission Fluid Leak Symptoms?
First and foremost you should identify if the annoying and unattractive leak in your driveway is in fact transmission fluid before you rush to any conclusions. Keep in mind that any leaking fluid from your car needs attention, but for the sake of this article, we will focus specifically on transmission fluid.
Leaked transmission fluid tends to be a reddish to brownish color, it will be slick to the touch and will have an oily smell. If you are unsure that it is transmission fluid leaking from your car, try placing a piece of clean cardboard under your car so that you can have a few fresh drops to determine if you are dealing with a transmission fluid leak. Next, identify where the leak is coming from. Leaked transmission fluid will be towards the front and center of your car. Other indicators that you may have transmission fluid leaking will be a car slow to start, if your transmission doesn’t start at all then you may have lost all of your transmission fluid.
What Causes Transmission Fluid to Leak?
Now that you have identified the symptoms of a transmission leak let’s identify what may have caused the leak in the first place. There are a number of reasons that can cause a transmission fluid leak, in fact, there are five main causes:
- A leak in the pan
The transmission pan is located at the bottom of your gearbox and it is vulnerable to fractures and punctures even though transmission pans are usually made from thick metal. Due to the location of the transmission pan, road debris can cause these cracks and holes that lead to leaks. Along with road debris, transmission pan damage can happen from hitting a deep pothole or running over a curb (it’s ok, we’ve all done this). If this kind of damage occurs, your transmission pan will have to be replaced.
- Broken seals
An automatic transmission has a large number of seals in order to maintain hydraulic pressure. Just like any other seal, these seals located in the transmission crack and degrade over time. When automatic transmission fluid becomes dirty due to lack of maintenance these seals can be exposed to an intense heat that can also cause these seals to crack and fail. This is why maintenance is so important for the health of your car, it can cause premature damage that is so easily avoidable. In the event that you have worn seals, it can lead to multiple areas for the transmission fluid to leak. Some of the seals that can cause the transmission fluid to leak are- sensor and plug seals, shifter housing seal, transmission pan gasket, speedometer input seal, tailhousing seal, etc.
- Fluid lines cracked
Made from either steel or aluminum, fluid lines of a transmission are used to move transmission fluid from the transmission pan to a cooling chamber that is located either inside or outside of the radiator. These transmission lines are normally very durable with proper maintenance and regular transmission fluid changes. When the transmission fluid lines are exposed to excessive heat or damaged from road debris these lines can crack or break entirely.
- Torque converter
The torque converter, which is located between the transmission and the engine flywheel propels transmission fluid into the entire system. The torque converter uses transmission fluid with a number of internal turbines to convert horsepower into hydraulic pressure. The hydraulic pressure is pivotal to operate the transmission. The torque converter is mainly made of metal, which is comprised of many internal bearings and turbine blades, all of which can wear out and create a transmission fluid leak.
- Transmission pan gasket
The gasket on the transmission pan is one of the most common areas to fail to cause a
transmission fluid leak. Whether due to improper installation, excessive heat
exposure, or just from old age this gasket failure can allow for transmission fluid to leak.
How Much Does a Transmission Fluid Leak Cost to Repair?
Now for the question that no car owner wants to face head on- what damage is this going to cause to my wallet? The dread and anxiety that car repairs can cause is not something that anyone of us wants to face but the reality is that these things happen and we have to be prepared to shovel out the money. The cost of repairing a transmission fluid leak will vary drastically due to the year, make, model and what is causing the actual leak. The cost will also be affected by time, how long has fluid been leaking? The longer this problem goes without repairing the more damage it will cause, and in extreme cases, lack of attention will cause the transmission to burn out. In the event that this has happened this will require a costly new transmission to be installed. A transmission fuel leak can happen due to a number of factors, none of which are exactly cheap.
Provided is a list of the common repairs associated with transmission fluid leaks and the average cost for each repair. As mentioned before these costs will vary depending on the make and model of your car.
- Transmission pan gasket $85-$200
- Transmission cooler line $185
- New torque converter $600-$1000
- New transmission fluid pan $1800-$3500
In the event that the transmission fluid leak was neglected so much so that you will now need a new transmission all together here are a list of common vehicles driven today and the average cost to replace the transmission. These price estimates have been provided by RepairPal, a great tool when looking up repair costs.
As it is quite obvious, maintenance is beyond important. No one wants to walk out the repair shop with a bill as large as a transmission replacement.
What Makes Transmission Fluid Leaks Cost so Much to Repair?
As you can see from the estimates above, the cost to repair a transmission fluid leak can be as little as $85 or as much as $8000, that’s a huge gap in repair costs! How your car has been maintained controls this cost. Did you get your leak repaired as soon as you noticed puddles in your driveway or did the leak get neglected? Due to the many different areas transmission fluid can leak from it will require a thorough inspection, you may need just one small part replaced or you could need multiple parts replaced there are so many variables and because of these variables this will drive up the cost for you. You won’t know just how big a hit your bank account will take until your car has been looked over, if you are on a tight budget like most of us this will create a huge stress. Even with as daunting as this all seems, you do have options.
Is it Worth Fixing Your Transmission Fluid Leak?
Before you start wondering what you need to pawn or if you should sell an organ or two to be able to pay for your transmission fluid leak, let’s consider if your car is even worth such a costly repair. My guess is that if you have a leak you probably have other things that are failing on your car, especially if you are dealing with an older vehicle. As much as we want our mechanical best friends to last forever, that is unfortunately not always a possibility. Whether the car is failing due to lack of maintenance or you got your hands on one very sour lemon that has been bleeding you dry from day one, sometimes it’s best to part ways and move on to something more reliable.
Using reliable and trustworthy websites like Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds are great tools offered to the public to help determine the value of your vehicle. Keep in mind that these are rough estimates. These estimates are not written in stone. Once you have a rough idea of your car’s value this will help you decide how you want to move forward, maybe it is time to invest in a vehicle that will be a more reliable companion to you. Do you really want to lay in bed at night wondering what is going to fail on your car next?
Sell Your Car As-Is Even if You Have a Transmission Fluid Leak
Did you know that even a car that is non-operable is still valuable? To the right buyer, your car is a goldmine of useful and valuable parts. So who is the right buyer? Well, you have the traditional options of a junkyard or a dealership and thanks to the internet you have options like Craigslist. Each one of these options to sell your vehicle has its pros and cons, unfortunately, more times than not there are more cons than pros.
Remember the days of selling a car via a newspaper ad or the Pennysaver? For those of us old enough to remember it we also remember just how inconvenient of a process that was. Thankfully nowadays the process of selling a vehicle is much easier than it was just a decade ago. With resources like Craigslist, anyone can easily post a car for sale, but just like anyone can sell a car on Craigslist, anyone can contact you and at all times of the day. Craigslist has built itself quite the reputation and for all the wrong reasons. Consider Craigslist like a watering hole for scammers, user beware.
If you are now reconsidering using Craigslist and think that a dealership or junkyard is the safer route for you to down you would be right, but even though it is safer doesn’t mean you won’t be screwed in another way. Dealerships and junkyards are known for their salesman-like tactics. They will lure you in with an inflated estimate on your car just to undercut you at the last minute knowing that you are unlikely to back out. If your car is inoperable do you really want to pay to have it towed back to your house? Dealerships and junkyards know this and take advantage of you in the process. Their main goal is always what profit they can make, the last thing they care about is your best interest.
There has to be a better option right?
Stop Stressing Over a Transmission Fluid Leak- Sell Your Car to Us Instead
If the above options are doing nothing but giving you a headache and you want to avoid the scam-like tactics that Craigslist, dealerships, and junkyards have to offer there is a better hassle-free option that leaves you with cash in your hand. Cash Cars Buyer can relieve your stress, selling your car doesn’t have to bring on such a headache.
Your time is a valuable right? Cash Cars Buyer knows and respects that. When you use Cash Cars Buyer the process is simple and pain-free. All you have to do is visit Cash Cars Buyer’s website, request an “as-is” condition quote, and depending on the condition of your vehicle you will receive a forthright price for your vehicle. If you choose to accept the offer you then can schedule a pickup time that is easy and convenient for you. Your vehicle will be towed away at no cost to you and you will receive cash in hand. This is the treatment you deserve, no hassle, no salesman tactics, no scams just a straightforward process that leaves you richer at the end of the day. It’s time to stop stressing over your vehicle and time to invest in something that you can rely on.