It was running great, never had a problem with it before, and then all of a sudden it started to smoke and puttered out. After limping off the road, from what my customer could see, all of the automatic transmission fluid was gone. Transmissions can't smoke like an engine, but when a transmission leaks three or four quarts of fluid on the red hot exhaust pipe, it smokes and can even catch fire. It also spreads all over the bottom and back of the vehicle. With that in mind, it is time to call AAA or a tow truck and have your vehicle towed to a reliable transmission shop for a diagnosis.
Let's say it is a 1999 Ford F-350 pick up truck with the 7.3L diesel engine and a 4R100 automatic transmission that you were using. The 4R100 is a Ford transmission and is known for puking automatic transmission fluid out the front pump seal when it's working hard in the heated weather. Simply put, the cooling system is the culprit in this situation. This article is not about cooling system repairs or updates, though, which is the remedy for the front pump leakage problem, but it is about choices.
When a transmission dumps the fluid in an unceremonious manner all over the road, it means that the front pump seal went south and no longer is 'holding fluid'. This is because the transmission loses most of its cooling ability under heavy loads and eventually, usually at the wrong time, the seal starts to leak transmission fluid just like a screen-door in a submarine would leak water. The problem is fixable with a good update kit and some added cooling.
The transmission has to be removed to fix a front pump leak and then the transmission shop has to remove the transmission to fix the leak as well as inspect the transmission for damage. There is a good chance that the transmission has some significant wear in it, or enough wear to justify a remanufactured transmission. With that in mind, depending on how much wear and what is worn, a decision has to be made on how you want to fix your truck. You can fix the current transmission, buy a used transmission or have a rebuilt transmission installed in the vehicle. Everything depends on what your plans for the vehicle are. My advice is don't cheat here by buying the cheapest transmission available.
My recommendation will revolve around the fact that most of the time this happens when: A) It is a work truck carrying lots of weight B) The fluid is damaged from getting too hot all the time, taking the elasticity out of the front seal C) The pump failed. It is made of aluminum, which is a soft element.The bottom line is that, if you do nothing other than regular errands and drive in a normal manner, at least make sure you buy a rebuilt transmission that is built not to overheat under heavy load conditions. If this is a commercial vehicle, which is usually overloaded with just the tools and equipment on the truck, it is time to get serious. Also, the pumps we use in our shop were rebuilt with a metal sleeve where the gears wear the aluminum pump body, thus preventing a repeat situation.
Getting serious involves buying a rebuilt transmission with the most effective update kit installed and add a couple of external auxiliary transmission coolers to the transmission cooling system. Finally, use full synthetic automatic transmission fluid as a refill. Synthetic transmission fluid is like an added plus. It allows your rebuilt transmission to last its longest and function at its best. Don't forget to ask about the warranty because it is usually a good indicator of how much confidence the transmission supplier has in his merchandise. Meaning, a short-term one year warranty does not mean much when you can get a long- term three or five year guarantee on it.
The first cars that were invented basically had tires that were essentially oversized rubber bands stretched over wooden frames. They didn't even think much about the suspension system either. Today however, suspension technology has improved to the point where riding in your car is just as comfortable as sitting at home on your living room couch and the car handles like it's running on rails. Advances like the pneumatic tire, well engineered springs and struts and shocks, even the roughest of roads won't wake the sleeping baby in the back seat. Regardless of how well they're engineered, shocks and struts will wear out and need to be replaced. By knowing when they need to be changed keeps your car ride smooth and keeps it handling smoother as well.
There's actually a fairly simple test to see if your shocks and struts are worn out. All you have to do is push down on either the front or the back of your vehicle (depending on which end you are testing) and get the vehicle moving up and down. When you stop "bouncing" your car, it should move back into "normal" position at once and not bounce any further. If it continues to move up and down, your shocks or struts are worn and should be replaced. While car manufacturers and the makers of shocks and struts have a mileage suggestion as to when they should be replaced, it's good to occasionally use this test as well to ensure your car is safe.
Even though struts and shocks make a car ride smoother, they are an integral part of how your car handles as well. If they are worn out, not only does your car ride rougher, it's actually more difficult to drive. That's because the shocks and struts, important on any car but more importantly on front wheel drive cars are a major component in the interface between the steering wheel and the wheel. Worn shocks or struts means you have less control over the wheels which means you have less control over the car. This may create a dangerous situation, especially with wet or icy roads. Anything that can cause the wheels to lose grip can lead to hydroplaning and an accident.
Even under the best of conditions, worn shocks and struts can cause other problems as well. Because these components do connect to the wheels, being worn out can make the tires wear unevenly and can cause additional stress on other components such as wheel bearings and tie-rod ends. If your car is coming close to the manufacturer's mileage suggestion or if its handling changes, have your shocks and struts changed out. Certified mechanics will be able take a look and see, and if it's needed, they can put on new ones, usually in less than an hour. Compared to worn tires, worn bearings and other damage, they're not expensive at all and they keep your car running safely and riding smooth.
Many people balk at driving a car because they are not mechanically-inclined.
There are all too many cars that have specific individual problems, and these problems can create difficulties that affect the running of the car. In order that everything runs smoothly, there is a lot of importance placed on the engine oil, as this keeps moving parts moving. That oil itself is never much use unless you have a good oil filter in the car's engine. There is all the more importance placed on the quality of the oil filter in a powerful car, as these cars are considered high-performance vehicles and depend on the moving parts performance more than ever.
Replacing an engine oil filter is, theoretically, not supposed to be too difficult. In theory, the filter can be changed by hand. In practice this is almost never the case, because of the fact that oil "as most of us will be fully aware" tends to be quite slippery.
Thus filters often cannot be loosened by hand, but there are special filter wrenches that may be used. They come in two general types: the jointed pincer style and handle-and-chain style. Either is a handy tool to unscrew an oil filter, a task extremely difficult to do even when using latex gloves. At any rate, work gloves of leather, denim or latex are recommended when using filter wrenches as they minimize the metal's bite on the hand when applying pressure to unscrew the filter. They also protect the hand from oil spills, a good thing for those who are allergic or averse to oil on their skin.
Sometimes the filter is too tight, but wiping it with a rag to lessen its surface slickness from the oil will help the wrench make purchase on the filters cover.
When the filter is loose enough, remove it by hand. Ready a container beforehand to catch the residual oil that will drip from the nozzle or opening as you remove it. You can also turn it upside down as soon as possible to avoid more oil drips. Wipe the drops of oil off your hand as soon as possible.
At this stage, again, it will be worth using a fresh rag to wipe the nozzle and the sides of the new filter for the purposes of ease of handling. You will be well-advised to smear some oil on the rubber surface of the gasket, as this will smooth the twisting of the filter on to the nozzle. A few drips will do, and if you smear them over the whole rubber surface it will create a firm contact point.
Turn the filter by hand when it begins to thread in but do not force it at the start: you might damage the thread and the filter will not seat perfectly, causing leaks. It is good practice to turn it counterclockwise first (as if loosening it) a few turns to find the entry thread before turning it the other way to thread it in. This way you can be assured of a good thread-in. Hand-tighten it to a good fit and youre done.