Transmission Fluid Leak When Parked: Causes, Symptoms and Fixes

One common issue noticed amongst various vehicle’s transmission fluid leaks when parked. You must have seen that small pool of brown, red, and green fluid beneath cars. These stains result from the transmission fluid leak.

Such stains may cause you to spend some money, as they discolor your garage floor and driveways. Whether you noticed the leak when the car is parked or the transmission fluid leak only when running, this issue needs a quick fix.

Such action would ensure that your car runs smoothly. Kindly note that fixing the leaks and getting the fluid replaced would cost you some money, but it is the best option. Car owners should check the transmission fluid and refill them when needed.

The fluid needs to remain at a specific level for the car to function. Are you unsure of the reasons behind transmission fluid leaks? This article holds the common causes, signs, and major fixes of transmission fluid leaks.

What Causes Transmission Fluid Leak When Parked

transmission fluid leaking from front of car

After parking your car for a while and you decide to move it, you would see some fresh drops of transmission fluid. This loss of fluid can be pretty disturbing, as you would need to fix and replace it.

The vehicle’s transmission seems like a complicated piece and often gets worn due to heat friction. The fluid must remain at the required level, as the transmission may start shifting hard with a low amount of fluids.

A good car routine involves checking the transmission fluid and noting the level of the liquid. What is the cause of transmission fluid leakage? Well, it could be a minor case or a critical one. So, it is recommendable to get the car checked once you notice it. Nevertheless, here are some issues that lead to transmission fluid leaks.

Worn Transmission Pan

One of the common issues that lead to transmission fluid leaks is a worn transmission pan. It can also occur if the pan is not in the right position. With constant use, the transmission fluid pan may soon start having holes or losing some bolts.

Various elements can damage the pan, and this can cause some transmission fluid issues. In essence, you should try to check the transmission fluid pan once you start noticing such a leak.

Drain Plug

Transmission fluid leak may result from the drain plug not being tightened. It can also be problematic when the drain plug gets over-tightened, reaching the point of stripping. These can cause a leak and make the car lose transmission fluid. So, you should also check and get it fixed.

Damaged Seals

Does your car use a manual or automatic transmission? Well, there is sustained hydraulic pressure across various transmission seals in the automatic transmission. Leaks may occur with cracks on these seals with long-time heat exposure.

The output and input shaft may have damaged seals, and you should try to check these critical parts. Other places to check include the shifter housing, tail housing, and speedometer input seal. It would be beneficial if you check the driveshaft and sensors too.

Broken Transmission Pan Gasket

Some cars have poorly manufactured gaskets, which make them susceptible to heat. Also, your car expert may have forgotten to get the gasket aligned properly during the last installation. Whatever the case is, this may be the cause of the leakages.

Hence, the need to contact an expert automobile mechanic. You may also notice some damage with the gasket due to frequent exposure to heat, and a quick action would help. Leaving the leakage to continue for a long can cause your vehicle some more problems.

Cracked Fluid Line

The fluid lines come made of aluminum or steel, making them long-lasting. Nevertheless, the constant road exposure to debris and heat can cause a crack and even break the line completely. With the fluid line broken, there would be a transmission fluid leak.

Leakage from the Torque Converter

The car’s torque converter propels the transmission fluid into the system. Thus, a slight crack on the torque converter’s body or bad needle bearings can cause leakage. A suitable replacement would be needed for a bad torque converter; so, you should visit your car’s mechanic.

Signs or Symptoms of Leaking Transmission Fluid

There are various ways transmission fluid leaks may occur. You may start noticing a few symptoms that would tell you that your car’s transmission fluid is leaking. Nevertheless, here is some common signs that you would notice.

#1 – Slow Acceleration

Without a doubt, the car’s transmission ensures that the engine and wheel work simultaneously. When the transmission fluid is running low, you may start facing difficulties changing the gear. Such delay can cause your car’s acceleration to decrease, and you would notice it when you step on the gas pedal.

#2 – Grinding Gears

Often, you may find a bad Transmission Filter causing “grinding gears.” However, this can also be one of the transmission fluid leak symptoms. There is inadequate lubrication with the fluid running low, causing the grinding sound in the vehicle’s gear. With this sign, you should take your car for quick repairs.

#3 – Excessive Heat from the Transmission System

Have you noticed your car’s transmission system emitting excessive heat? It could happen due to a transmission fluid leak or some serious issue with the car’s transmission. It is pretty abnormal for the transmission system to heat, as it can cause some serious damage to the vehicle.

So, you should keep a close watch on the dashboard’s heat gauge. You can also tell if the transmission is heating if you start perceiving a burnt smell that appears strange. Thus, you would need to fix the vehicle soon to prevent further issues.

#4 – Puddle beneath the Car

This symptom seems like one of the most conspicuous out of the many leaking transmission fluid signs. The fluid color you see on the ground would depend on the transmission fluid you use. You may observe a puddle of red, brown, pink, and even green fluid.

When you notice a green or red fluid puddle, it may not necessarily leak from the transmission system. Some internal car parts make use of transmission fluid (one example is the vehicle’s steering).

#5 – Weird Vibrations

With the transmission fluid running low, you may soon start noticing some strange vibrations when you slip into gear. If you notice this, your car’s transmission fluid may be leaking, and there would soon be decreased acceleration.

Along with this is the clunking sound from the transmission, which pinpoints the need to fix your car. It doesn’t appear safe to drive with such a sign, and as such, you should quickly get this problem fixed.

How to Fix Transmission Leak

When you notice the car’s transmission fluid leak when parked, you should endeavor to fix the issue. You can follow these steps below.

transmission fluid leak symptoms

Identify the Cause of the Leakage

In some cases where you notice puddles on the floor, it may not necessarily be a case of fluid leaking from the transmission. You should try to check if it is actually a transmission fluid leak. You would often find the transmission fluid leaking from the front of the car. Also, try to look out for the extent of the leakage.

Determine the Cause of the Leak

As mentioned above, there are various reasons why your car’s transmission fluid leaks when parked on an incline or a flat surface. So, conduct a quick inspection on the transmission pan gasket, engine, fluid lines, and seals. Once you can determine the cause, you can solve this issue quickly.

Ascertain If You Can Get this Issue Fixed Yourself

The car’s transmission system may seem pretty complicated to work on if you have little or no mechanical knowledge. Bigger issues may require an expert’s assistance; you wouldn’t want to toy with the transmission system.

Gather the Materials and Tools for Repairs

If you are fixing this issue yourself, it would be best to get all the tools needed. The tools would depend on the cause of the fluid leak. Nevertheless, you can purchase new gaskets, seals, fluid lines, and other important materials from automobile stores online or those close to you.

Get the Fluid Drained

It would be helpful to drain the fluid, and you can use the drain plug found in most automatic transmissions. You have to jack up the car and place the transmission pan and cardboard beneath. Then, drain into the pan, ensuring you unbolt the transmission pan. Kindly note that some vehicles do not have a drain plug.

Start Fixing the Issue

  1. Replace the Fluid Line: You should get a new durable rubber hose to replace the leaking hose. The new hose should withstand the high pressure and temperature from the circulation of the transmission fluid.
  2. Changing the Pan: When the transmission pan appears damaged, you would need a suitable replacement. You can get one from various auto parts dealers, and its installation is easy. Kindly remove the bolts, remove the old one, and install the new one.
  3. Replacing the Transmission Pan Gasket: This replacement seems pretty easy, and you can do it yourself. You have to drain the transmission fluid and take off the pan. Then, replace the gasket that lines over the pan before re-tightening the bolts.

Refilling the Fluid

When the leak occurs, you will notice various signs of low transmission fluid. Thus, there would be a need to refill the fluid. You would need suitable ATF and CVT fluid, drain the previous one and pour in the new transmission fluid.

Before purchasing the new transmission fluid, you should note your vehicle’s needs and the type of engine. Once done, fix the pan properly, warm the car up, and check for any further leaks. If none appears, your car will start working effectively.

Tips for Preventing Transmission Fluid Leak

  • Try to inspect the transmission fluid from time to time to ensure that it remains at the required level.
  • You can use a dip-stick to check after making sure the car is parked at a flat level.
  • Depending on the level of leakage, ensure that you get the car fixed. Then refill the lost fluid to make the car run smoothly.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What’s the cost of fixing a transmission fluid leak?

Ans: Transmission fluid leak repair cost varies based on the cause of the problem. Nevertheless, an average cost for such repair without getting out the transmission would be between $150 to $200. This cost covers the replacement of fluid lines, pan bolts, seals, gaskets, and drain plugs.

Still, you should check with the local mechanic close to you. You can get the exact cost after the expert provides a full diagnosis of the transmission fluid leak. Without a doubt, bigger issues would require larger sums to get fixed. But, you would be glad you fixed the leaks.

Q: How serious is a transmission fluid leak?

Ans: Transmission fluid leaks may seem fine but can cause serious issues if not fixed sooner. Much more, it seems like a daunting task pinpointing the actual cause of the problem, as the cause ranges from leaking hose, faulty transmission pan, and bad gasket.

Also, the car would not drive optimally, and you may not get anywhere with such a problem. Nevertheless, when you notice the transmission fluid leak smell, you should check to see if it leaks and quickly solves the problem.

Q: Can you drive if your car is leaking transmission fluid?

Ans: It is not right to drive with the transmission fluid leaking, as the fluid is highly flammable. Also, such leaks can decrease the car’s acceleration, and other serious issues may soon occur. So, while it seems fine with small leaks, you should immediately take your car to the mechanic.

Assuming you notice your transmission fluid leak after a flush, you should go back to the car expert and get it fixed. Ensure that you don’t leave it to keep leaking for a long period. The faster you act, the better for your car.

Q: Do transmission leak sealers work?

Ans: Transmission leak sealers work effectively, as they come formulated to restore the output and input shaft seals. Thus, they can prevent further leakages and seal little cracks or holes. If you pour the product after you are done topping the transmission fluid, it would penetrate those cracks and seal them.

Nevertheless, they won’t be effective for parts that seem heavily damaged. Simply put, these sealers can work for seals and gaskets that crack from common wear and tear. They can’t bind large holes.

Q: What does transmission fluid look like when it leaks?

Ans: You would notice a puddle of brown and red fluid beneath cars when the transmission fluid leaks. In fact, you can easily tell that the transmission fluid is leaking when you find dark spots on the ground.

The fluid appears to be pinkish or reddish-brown when new, having a thin viscosity. When it leaks, you will notice a red color with an oily and slippery feel. Thus, you should check the cause of the leak and fix it quickly.

Puddle Under Your Car or Truck? How to Diagnose Transmission Leaks YouTube 

Final Words

The car’s transmission is a crucial part that ensures the engine’s smooth running and wheels. They need the right amount of transmission fluid to function optimally. Nevertheless, few cases of transmission fluid leaks exist, and some car owners notice such stains with their cars parked in their garage.

 If left for long, such leakage can cause some greater problems. Hence, the need to quickly fix the issue and keep the car running. If you notice your car’s transmission fluid leak between the engine and transmission, it will help if you fix such a problem sooner. A peek through this article would guide you on what to do.

Tito

Hi There, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I have been working as a mechanic for over fifteen years. I worked for a long time at Global Rebound Automotive companies (Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others ) as a Mechanic and Mechanics Supervisor.

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