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BACKYARD MECHANIC: Transmission fluid leak could be tied to seal

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2011 Ford Escape Limited for $21,995

2011 Ford Escape Limited

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QUESTION: Last winter I replaced the T350 automatic transmission with a rebuilt 700-4R in my 1940 Ford. In the spring I put on a few hundred miles and the transmission worked perfectly. Upon my return, I let the car sit for a few days while it rained cats and dogs. I noticed a transmission fluid leak. I checked the filler tube rubber, OK; the throttle valve cable was also dry. I then changed the pan gasket. A few days later, it was still leaking. I haven't removed the convertor inspection cover yet. Could this leak be from the input shaft seal? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER: While the front seal is a possible source of the leak, there are other places to look too. Because the leak shows up after a few days of not driving the car, I would suspect the seal on the shift shaft that goes into the side of the transmission. When the car sits, the oil that is inside the torque converter drains down and back into the main body of the transmission. This raises the oil level inside the pan till it is higher than the shift shaft seal. As soon as you start the engine, the oil is pumped back into the torque converter again so this drain down of oil isn't a problem other than the oil leak.

Oil could also be leaking from the servo cover due to a damaged cover O-ring seal. I would expect this type of problem to show up more when driving the vehicle and there is oil pressure inside the servo, so it likely isn't the cause of your problem.

A porous case could also be causing an oil leak. As long as the case leak isn't directly connected to a pressure area inside the case, the porous case can be repaired using JB Weld on the outside surface after cleaning the surface of any oil and grease. To help locate the leak, you could add a dye to the transmission oil, take the vehicle for a drive and inspect the transmission with an ultraviolet light to pinpoint the leak.

QUESTION: For periods of time lasting as much as two days after a rainfall, I get vertical streaks on the front half of the driver's side window (the streaks don't go all the way across the window) every time I roll it down. I never get water on the inside when the windows stay up, just afterwards when I roll the driver's window down. I've compared windows and this only happens on the driver's window. I've also looked in auto forums and it seems this problem isn't confined to my 2010 Civic. It's a problem -- or irritant, depending on how you look at it -- for drivers of several makes and models.

The most plausible explanation I've come across is that after a rainfall or car wash the outside dust seal/weather stripping on the bottom of the window ledge makes contact with the dry one on the inside when the window is rolled down and so the water transfers from the outside onto the inside seal and streaks the window when you roll it back up. This answer doesn't make sense for a few reasons: even if I only roll the window down a couple of inches -- I still get the water on the inside at the bottom of the window; and it only happens on the driver's window, it's never a problem on the passenger windows. Is there an easy fix?

ANSWER: There is a "cat whisker" covered window guide inside the door on the inner side of the glass. This guide touches the glass to keep it in the proper location as the glass is moved up and down. Water enters the door past the outside glass seal strip and gets into the soft window guide material. This guide then leaves streaks on the inside of the glass when the window is lowered.

Some cars use a nylon guide and if a lubricant gets on the guide, it leaves a grease streak on the glass. While this isn't a problem, it is irritating. Because the driver's window is opened more than any other, the outside rubber seal and the guide material wear faster. Replacing the sealing strip may help, but often a careful readjustment of the window glass may be more effective. Just be prepared for it to still happen occasionally!

Jim Kerr is an experienced mechanic, instructor of automotive technology, freelance journalist and member of the Automobile Journalists' Association of Canada.

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