Is it Safe to Drive when a Car is Leaking Transmission Fluid?

Driving a car that is leaking transmission fluid can be risky. If a car is leaking transmission fluid, it may not run the way that it should, and that can lead to additional risks.

Transmission fluid is used as lubrication and enables your vehicle to perform at optimal levels, so if your car is leaking transmission fluid, be warned that it may not perform at its peak.

You will be able to notice the leak because a red, green, or translucent fluid will be dripping underneath your vehicle. You can usually see this fluid in your driveway or on the street if you park there.

Once you notice a leak, it is important to get a leak fixed sooner rather than later. Getting the leak fixed can save money and increase the long-term health of the vehicle. Spending money in the short-term can save money in the long-term if the issue is resolved by a trained and certified professional. If you contact a mechanic, they can perform an inspection and help you resolve the issue.

What Does It Look like and Feel like?

Knowing what transmission fluid looks and feels like can help you recognize when your vehicle is leaking it. Transmission fluid is red, green, or translucent. Transmission fluid also has an oily touch and feel to it, and it can be slick. Transmission fluid will have a similar texture to engine oil or brake fluid.

Causes of Transmission Fluid Leaks

A common cause of transmission fluid leaks are gaps within your transmission. These gaps can cause fluid to leak out.

Transmission Pan Leaks

Transmission pans are one common reason for the leak. There are two main causes of a transmission pan leak.

The first is that your drain plug or bolt may not be tight enough. It is critical that these are checked for their tightness because they can be loosened over time. It is also critical to make sure that after your transmission fluid is changed that you ensure everything has been tightened properly after.

The second cause is usually due to a hole or gap within the transmission pan. If there is a gap or hole within the transmission pan, you might experience a transmission fluid leak. A small hole within the transmission pan can cause the leak and is a common issue.

It is easy for an object, such as a rock, to puncture the transmission pan, so it is critical to make sure there are no holes in your transmission pan when you begin to experience a leak.

Cracked Seals

Seals are another cause of a transmission fluid leak. When seals are exposed to heat on a consistent basis, they are prone to cracking. Transmission fluid can seep through the cracks of the seals and this could be the cause for your leak. The output shaft or input shaft will usually be the part of the transmission that is leaking if a seal is the primary cause of the leak.

Failed Pan Gasket

A pan gasket may fail which can lead to a transmission fluid leak. The common reasons for a pan gasket failure are poor installation, bad alignment, or the fact that it is exposed to a lot of heat. The pan gasket is relatively inexpensive to replace, and you should consider doing so as soon as you can if this is the problem. Replacing the pan gasket when it has issues can prevent more transmission-related issues from developing down the road.

Cracked Torque Converter

The torque converter can be another cause of a transmission fluid leak in your vehicle. Cracks in the torque converter or damaged bearings can lead to a transmission fluid leak. These are not easy to fix, and due to their complexity, you should consider taking your vehicle to a professional and skilled mechanic if the torque converter appears to be the primary reason why the transmission fluid is leaking.

Broken Fluid Lines

The fluid line can become cracked over time. Standard debris that hits the fluid line or simply being exposed to a lot of heat can cause fluid lines to crack. In some cases, the fluid lines might completely break, and these will be an obvious reason for the transmission leak.

Like torque converter leaks, this can be complex to the extent that the best option is usually to go to a professional mechanic with the skills and training required to fix this problem and avoid further damaging your vehicle.

What to Do When Your Car Is Leaking Transmission Fluid

Once you notice that your vehicle is leaking transmission fluid it is critical to get the leak fixed. Although you can drive the vehicle, the leaking transmission fluid can be a sign of bigger issues down the road.

Getting a small leak fixed is wise to do before it becomes a bigger and more expensive leak to fix. If you do not get the leak fixed in the immediate future, you could have more issues in the more distant future, so for the health of the vehicle, it is often wise to get the issue resolved sooner rather than later.

Based on how the fluid is leaking an experienced mechanic will be able to know where the leak is coming from. This will allow the mechanic to diagnose the issue faster and more accurately than an untrained individual may be able to diagnose the reason as to why the transmission fluid is leaking.

If it is something as simple as a bolt or hinge being loose, the mechanic has the ability and expertise to fix the issue. If it is something more serious, the mechanic will be able to diagnose the issue and replace parts if that is what is needed.

Being proactive and contacting a mechanic will save money and enable the vehicle to last longer.