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During recent state inspection my local mechanic put the car on the lift and pointed out that my left front driveshaft/axle was covered in oily dirt suggesting some sort of oil/grease leak. He also suggested replacing the axle. Since I have 100k extended warranty and car passed 90k already I decided to take it to the dealership to check it for problems before warranty expires. Few weeks later I left the car at 8AM at my local dealer asking to check front left axle, shocks and water pump (I had to add coolant in the past, but water leaks are not visible) After holding the car for whole day they finally called me, to tell me the car is fine, no problems whatsoever. Granted, we had heavy rains right before and most of the dirt was washed out but still you could see some dark substance splashed in the area (the other axle seems clean). Since then I looked at repair manual and if I read this correctly there is a seal holding oil from leaking from inside transmission. After thinking more about it I can see 4 possible reasons for oil there:
1. Picked some oil from the road on one side and splashed all over, unlikely but possible
2. broken boot leaks out the grease, or maybe from the shock, but all seem fine
3. Somewhere engine oil is leaking and splashing underneath, but oil filter is on the other side and I can't see any oil leaks there, also engine is on the other side, on the left side we have transaxle
4. the seal on the shaft is leaking transaxle oil, which would mean I have very little or no oil in transaxle. This seems to me most plausible and also most dangerous as this could cause whole transaxle to fail in the long run, probably right after my 100k warranty expires and I'm sure this type of repair goes into thousands of dollars.
So what do I do? Take it to another dealer? Ask them to change transaxle oil? but if there is still little oil, they just change it, oil will leak again and I'm back to square one (of course assuming I'm right about the leak)
The car runs fine but I would imagine it will do so until major failure which could take long time to develop. I'm thinking about at least checking oil level myself (and change it as well), but I'm not sure I know what I'm looking for especially that it's not easy to see oil level there and what would be acceptable level. Maybe I'm paranoid and it's nothing, but the oil is coming from somewhere and since dealer won't let me inside the shop to look at the car on the lift to consult mechanic I'm kind of stuck. Any suggestions? Also 100k warranty kind of locks me in with dealers around my area.
Check the fluid level in the transaxle. The level should come up to the fill hole or just below it. This can be accessed from under the car by looking towards the passenger side of the car from the area of the left front wheel. Remove the fill plug and check the level per this picture:
It will take a 10mm hex bit to remove the filler plug and the fluid level should be within 0 to 5 mm of the hole. When replacing the filler bolt, torque it to 29 Ft-lbs.
Second, take a can or two of brake cleaner and spray the strut, axle and boot with the tire removed to clean them. Make sure you wipe everything off and they are clean then drive the car for a week or two and see what you have. This might sound crazy but blow some chalk dust on them after driving for a few weeks if you don't see any indications of a leak.
I use regular old chalk dust (from a chalk line) and blow it onto the parts to see if any will stick. If oil is present, the chalk will stick to it and show you where to start looking.
Until Feb. 10, 2009:
Last edited by GeorgiaHybrid; 10-10-2010 at 03:16 PM.
I do have a question to ask everyone. If the responses that I put on here are too technical and don't help anyone, let me know and I will stop. They take me a while (I am barely past the stage where more than two fingers are used for typing) to type and post pictures or screen captures and if no one is using the info, I will sit back, relax and hangout on the garage forums more....
Thank you very much for your suggestions, especially about the chalk, have not heard that one yet and will use it next time I get a free moment, (I learn something new all the time). As far as level of technicality, as everything else, some people will find it helpful, others will skip it and look for topics more within their level of expertize. From reading this forum for few years I know for the fact we have some members with pretty advance knowledge and there were quiet few very technical posts in the past, from which I learn all the time, that's main reason I asked the question. Do I need to add I don't have much faith in my dealer? Those are the people who told me I need to change front and back break pads when I took my car for steering recall at about 50k. Of course I said "no, thank you" and still have original pads at 91k.
What really got me scared was the fact that while they were checking my car for the leaks I went to parts to ask about price of transmission oil, to see if I want to change it myself. The guy suggested I let them do it, because if I don't do it right, it will cost $9000 to fix (I guess that's the price of whole new transaxle?), so if there is a leak they didn't see, it could cost me a lot of money, probably would be cheaper to junk the whole car.
Now for a little off topic: Are you guys watching "IRT the deadliest roads" tonight at 8-10 PM on history channel? I thought we have traffic and crazy people driving here. WOW, I mean I drove here in many states I also drove in Europe and China when on vacation, but that's not even in the same league, what they have on this show.
If you want to change your transmission fluid, take a look at the picture above. Go buy 1 gallon of type WS transmission fluid from your dealer or from the net, remove the TOP filler bolt FIRST. You do that to make sure you can put fluid in after you drain it....
Once that bolt is out, remove the drain bolt and let the fluid drain out. When it is empty, clean everything and put the drain bolt back in and torque to 29 Ft-lbs. Put 4 quarts of fluid in using a little hand pump or any other method that works (I have a buddy that uses a turkey baster). Keep putting it in until it comes out the filler hole. Once fluid comes out, check with your pinky finger to make sure the level is at the top and then put the filler bolt back in and torque it to 29 Ft-lbs.
You are now done. Total time will be less than 30 minutes and I doubt that you will "ruin" your transmission. The only special tools you will need is a 10 mm hex bit socket and a 3/8 torque wrench if you want to be very precise. If "good enough" will work for you, snug that bolt up good and tight and let er rip. I happen to use a torque wrench a lot and usually have one sitting somewhere close. I don't use it on oil pan drain bolts or most other fasteners but steel bolts in aluminum is one place I like to use them
As far as IRT, I have been on some crazy roads in Indonesia and India but never had to drive on roads like they are on. Now the crazy drivers in traffic are another matter. Those guys in India don't hold a candle to the ones in Bangkok, Jakarta or Manila.
I know the guy was talking nonsense about messing up oil change, there is nothing to it, the point is if the oil is leaking by the drive shaft, low oil could damage transaxle and apparently it cost $9k to fix. At least I have work order saying "customer claims strut or axle leaking" and the note bellow saying strut not leaking, funny they don't mention anything about axle. Well, next weekend I'll have to check oil level myself and once I have it open I may as well change it, I'm just p'??ed I wasted whole day leaving car with dealer and at the end have to do it myself.
As far as IRT, that must be a shocker to go from empty ice roads in Alaska, into left handed traffic in India, but those roads in Himalayas I don't think I could drive there, inches from 6000 feet vertical drop, not even a barrier, even flat tire or fender bender could send the car down and probably there is enough time in freefall to actually call your wife and say goodbye lol.
Thanks for your help.
I for one very much appreciate your help in this forum. It is very nice when someone with your experience will take the time to post such informative help. You helped me on my rear brakes a while back, and you went above and beyond what I expected.
Thanks again and keep up the great posts.
2008 Barcelona Red Metallic TCH Mods: 20% hybrid window tint, Wade window vent visors, lower grill chrome accents, fog lights, MB Mesh X wheels, factory spoiler, Razzi ground effects, Razzi simulated dual exhaust