Thursday, May 21, 2020

Further Adventures in Car Repair - Update

So, once upon a time (just a few short years ago), I had the transmission on my truck professionally rebuilt by a reputable shop. Everything worked fine right up until I had to park it a while back to take care of a pair of recalcitrant fuel pumps and assorted other maintenance tasks that needed doing. As such, this is not a post in which I will be bagging on the transmission shop. Their workmanship is not in question here. 

Having said that, never assume that a shop did their work correctly. They offer warranties for a reason. As Reagan said, "Trust, but verify."

As mentioned in a previous post, the most recent test drive efforts revealed the transmission pan was leaking automatic transmission fluid (ATF - the stuff that looks like cherry koolaid when it's new and day old coffee when it's neglected) like a medicated St. Bernard. Now, there is no good reason for a freshly and professionally rebuilt transmission to be leaking after less than 10,000 miles of driving. Unfortunately, it has taken far longer than I would have liked to find time to go tracking down the source of the leak. 

The first thing you need to do when investigating an automotive problem is to try an figure out the source and/or cause of said problem. Examination of the transmission filler tube/dipstick holder showed no visible evidence of cracks or leaks. Ditto for the transmission cooler lines. That's a plus. Looking at what was sitting directly above the large pool of what used to be ATF on the driveway pointed me squarely at the transmission pan. The pan on my truck is held on by 14 bolts which sandwiches a gasket between the pan and body of the transmission. The bolts are supposed to be torqued to 168 inch pounds (roughly 14 foot pounds). The pan and bolts were suspiciously coated in ATF. 

So, having localized the source to the pan and knowing the torque specs for the bolts, I finally got a chance to crawl under the truck earlier today with torque wrench in hand and discovered, much to my dismay, that all 14 bolts were not only not torqued to spec but barely finger tight. I am exceedingly thankful that all 14 bolts were still attached to the transmission. 

After giving each bolt a proper torqueing and wiping down the pan and bolts of excess ATF, I set about trying to refill the lost ATF into the transmission. Only to discover that I did not have enough ATF on hand to completely refill the transmission. The good news is  that  no further ATF was seen escaping the pan and its bolts.  So, I think that leak in the dike was plugged. 

Grumbles and cursings at the inevitable delays and a trip to the auto parts store later, I now have enough (hopefully) ATF on hand to finish replenishing. 

But wait, there's more. While doing the ATF refill kabuki dance, I discovered that the transmission cooler lines were drooling a little ATF at the fittings to the radiator (which also acts as a transmission cooler). OH COME ON ALREADY!!! 

If it ain't one thing, it's another. 

So, assuming the weather cooperates, my morning tomorrow will involve tightening transmission cooler lines, refilling ATF and hopefully dropping the truck at the muffler shop. Wish me luck and no more surprises. 

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