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Jim Grant Tech Tips Jim Grant Tech Tips
A collection of helpful articles based on reader submissions
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Below is a collection of Jim Grant's Tech Tips sorted by Vehicle Make. These Tech Tips were answers to questions submitted to Jim by users over the course of many years.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email us.



Lincoln - Mercury
  Jim Grant's Tech Tips

'92 Ford Explorer, BAM-Fried Transmission

Q: I am the proud (or not so proud) owner of a ‘92 Ford Explorer, Eddie Bower Edition. Recently the auto developed a transmission fluid leak. It was not that it was a major leak, but constant. I took it to a home mechanic that was referred to me by a friend. He was supposed to have replaced the front seal. I got it home and found that after a few days it started dripping again. But not major. About the same time I took it to WalMart and had the oil changed. I bought the 12 point inspection and they might have added extra tranny fluid to it. Shortly after that I was driving home and noticed that the tranny fluid was starting to pour out. I stopped and got some and since I was only a few miles from home, decided to drive. Almost home, then bam!, I felt the transmission starting to go. It was very difficult to steer and was getting almost impossible to shift (automatic). I pulled over and added the quart of fluid I had just bought, crept home (did not have a choice). It now sits and I have been getting different advice from different people as to what could be the cause and what I should do about it. I am so flustered and being of the female gender, I want to make sure I don't get ripped off. I'm still trying to find out if the guy actually replaced the seal (from what I've been told, he didn't) or just pretended to. This is a must since I already paid him (for services NOT rendered??). I hope you can help me with this. I've been researching on the computer, trying to become more knowledgeable about cars but have a long way to go.

- Debbie

A: Changing the front seal of a transmission in your vehicle, in most vehicles for that matter is no simple task. The transmission has to be removed from the vehicle, add the age, wear & tear factor the job doesn’t get any easier. The seal costs little in comparison to the labor/time that is needed to perform the repair. I don’t believe that your gender is as much of an issue as you think. Unless you work on vehicles or have had some experience in the area of transmission repair, no matter the gender, you would have no way of truly understanding what was required to perform a front seal replacement on your vehicle’s transmission. But, after a small serving of life lesson pie, I think you’ll have a better handle on it. Part of this lesson is the understanding that an auto transmission is a hydraulic pump first, and transmission for power second. Without the creation of hydraulic pressure (which occurs when the engine is running) there will be no movement of the vehicle. The seal at the front of the transmission just happens to be right next to the pump of the transmission and as you found out, when failing, will leak like the Exxon Valdez on a rock pile. When a transmission loses enough oil to cause it to stop moving it has lost in the area of 20% to 30% of its vital fluid, which translates into 4 to 6 qts of oil. Adding that one-quart only allowed for more damage to the transmission to occur as you drove home. As for your, “do it at home mechanic” I find it hard to believe that he would have removed the drive shafts, exhaust, transfer case and transmission to replace the front seal. Performing such a task is a 7 or more hour job with a lift and related tools. Without such equipment it looks more like a multiple day job. If the front seal is the cause for the leak the transmission will have to be removed to replace it. If you drove and damaged the transmission, you may want to think about a replacement, used or rebuilt. It would not be fun to go through that work/money to find out the transmission is damaged. Check with your “home mechanic” he may step up to the plate and make things right. As for the next time you find you have a leak, don’t ignore it and when it comes to repair time the cheapest way out is often just the opposite. As my Grandfather use to say “Why ruin a nickel pocket knife to save a penny”.

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