transmission fluid refill

Is It Safe To Drive With A Leaking Transmission?

In Transmission by Magnus SellénLeave a Comment

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The first thing you will notice when you are experiencing transmission fluid leaks is that there will be a reddish colored fluid underneath the car.

Transmission fluid can also be greenish in color but with a distinctively pungent smell. Some power steering use transmission fluid as their preferred liquid.

One way you can ascertain that it is actually the transmission fluid that is leaking is by checking the transmission fluid level.  The transmission fluid has a dipstick just like the engine oil in most cars, in some newer cars you check this electronically.

Check the level before warming up the engine and after driving for a few miles.

If there is a noticeable change in the levels then you could be experiencing serious leaks. But, what are some possible causes of transmission fluid leaks?

Is it safe to a car that is leaking transmission fluid?

If you are sure that the transmission fluid level is good, you won’t damage your transmission with a small leak. The best practice is to repair the leak as fast as possible though.

The more you drive a car that is leaking fluid the more the fluid gets drained. At some point you will not have any left and your transmission will get damaged. If the leak is small it can buy you time to dash to the nearest service station for repairs.

If it’s leaking a lot you may damage the transmission if the fluid level is getting too low. In most cases, the transmission will just stop shifting but you can overheat it if you are unlucky. This may result in a really high repair cost.

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transmission dip stick 2

Causes of transmission leaks

The car involved in an accident

The transmission is connected to output shafts, driveshaft, and CV axles. When you are involved in a head-on collision or have a side impact accident some of these components will become damaged hence leaking transmission fluid.

The seals around them are the source of leaks. If you have bought a car that was involved in an accident it is vital that you check and replace these seals.

Lack of maintenance

There those car owners who will continue driving their cars without taking it for service. The owner’s manual will be your guide as to when to change your transmission fluid. You should do this occasionally because of the transmission fluid accumulated debris and metal particles that reduce its effectiveness.

Normal wear and tear

The transmission consists of various metal components. With time these components wear and tear due to usage and age. Seals attached to the output shafts, CV axles, and the driveshaft are under enormous pressure and subject to regular tear. The high temperatures within the transmission will also cause the seals to leak transmission.

While the seals are not expensive to purchase the cost of labor can be high for the transmission. Alternatively, you can use various leak seals fluids to keep a check on transmission leaks in the seals.

Damaged lines

The road that we use in everyday travel is loaded with debris and particles that can cause damage to the transmission lines. Since it is often very hot under the car, the lines may develop cracks leading to leaks. Lines, unlike seals, will drain your transmission fluid the fastest.

transmission dip stick

What are the uses of the transmission fluid?

Lubrication

The transmission fluid in an automatic car will flow to the gears hence keeping them well lubricated. This eliminates unnecessary friction will keeping the transmission cool.

There is a lot of heat that is generated in the gears and the transmission fluid plays a vital role in dissipating heat from the hottest parts while bringing in cooler fluids.

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Hydraulic power

The automatic transmission uses a set of hydraulic systems to transfer power. These systems need transmission fluid for gear changing, downshifting, engagement, and disengagement. Manual cars have manual ways of shifting gears; you have the clutch and gear linkages for this. However, with an automatic car, you need to pressurize the transmission fluid so as to operate the gears.

The transmission fluid is in constant circulation when the car is in motion. However, when not driving the fluid will accumulate in the transmission pan – which is very similar to the oil pan. The pan accumulates and cools the fluid and is circulated to the car parts through a pump. When you are performing a transmission fluid change, you will need to pour the contents to the dipstick.

The fluid will then be stored in the pan until you switch on the ignition and it starts circulating to all the transmission parts. You should check the level of the dipstick like you do for the oil to ensure that you are not experiencing leakages.

Conclusion

Driving a car with leaking transmission fluid can be very dangerous if you are going low on the fluid level. The fluid is vital for keeping the transmission components well lubricated. When you have less of the liquid it means that the moving parts will generate a lot of friction and heat.

This can cause the movable parts to continue deteriorating. You can identify the transmission fluid by its reddish color. The transmission fluid will leak due to gaps in the pan gasket, seals or fluid lines. You can check the transmission dipstick to check the fluid level just like you do for the engine oil.

Most people who experience low transmission fluid levels often wait until their cars have a problem before taking the car for service. However, the transmission fluid will with time become ineffective as they accumulate metal chippings and other debris.

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The transmission fluid is stored in a pan like engine oil in most cars and the pan will circulate the fluid through the transmission. Pans do get damaged as they are hit by rocks and this will cause the fluid to leak. The moment you notice leaks ensure that you identify the source of the problem. You can replace the seals and gasket. Do not drive to a car that is leaking transmission fluid.

Hello I'm Magnus, the owner and the writer of this website. I have been working with cars since I was 16 and I'm specialized with in-depth Automotive diagnostics. Also been driving drifting for the last 6 years. I'm here to give you answers to all your automotive questions and I hope that you enjoy our content.

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