Car Guides

My transmission is leaking fluid after a repair

John Paul, AAA Northeast's Car Doctor, answers a question from a reader whose transmission problems didn't stop after a recent repair.

Laurel Toyota mechanics, from left, Rich Grayish and Steve Dunn work on a hybrid car recall on a Toyota Prius at the Johnstown, Pa., Toyota dealership, Friday, March 20, 2020. Todd Berkey/The Tribune-Democrat via AP

Q. I recently had some transmission work done by a professional, drove the car home, parked it in my garage, and haven’t used it since. Now it’s leaking transmission fluid. This is the second time this has happened. What are your thoughts? 

A. You need to go back to the shop that did the repairs and have them evaluate the leak. My guess is that there was a gasket leaking and the shop tightened up the fasteners hoping for the best. Chances are they need to replace the leaking seal or gasket. 

Q. I have a 2010 Honda Crosstour, purchased new, and have had it serviced at the dealer for required work. It now has 202,000 miles on it and I plan to pass it on to my grandson a year from now, when it will have about 210.000 miles on it. It has been the best car I have owned. To my knowledge, Honda will not be making this model again and their lineup for AWD consists of the CR-V and Pilot. I’m interested in a similarly designed AWD 4 door hatchback as a replacement. What is out there that you would suggest?

A. The Honda Crosstour was a novel vehicle that really didn’t have a direct competitor. Acura had their version with the ZDX, Toyota has the Venza, and that is about all there was. Today, all of those vehicles are gone. The Honda CR-V is always a good choice — reliable and fuel efficient. The Toyota Prius is a hatchback, is now available with all-wheel-drive, and historically has been very dependable. 

Q. I have a Nissan Frontier pickup truck that I purchased used this year. I really like the truck, but it has one odd problem. The doors lock and unlock with the key-fob, but not with the button on the outside of the door handle. I asked my local shop and they said it’s probably the switch, but they weren’t sure and didn’t seem to be interested in looking at it. Any ideas? 

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A. There may be nothing wrong other than the previous owner disabled that function. The owner’s manual should have instructions on how to check. If the truck has navigation, go into the comfort and convenience section and see if that function has been turned off. If your truck doesn’t have navigation, you access this function through the steering wheel controls and the dash display. 

Q. I own a 2017 BMW 3-series with a turbo-charged engine. I like the car and it handles well. Almost once a week I get an email about various devices that are supposed to improve engine power — in some cases up to 40 percent. The car could use a little more power ,and now that it is out of warranty, I’m thinking about this tuner kit. What do you think? 

A. I don’t have much first-hand experience with these kits, but I know that some or most change the amount of turbo-charger boost. Some of the kits that I have read about increase turbo boost at full acceleration by nearly 50 percent. Adding this extra boost pressure and increasing engine temperature could certainly shorten the engine life. In addition, although these products may state they are certified by the EPA, to the best of what I have seen on BMW’s website, none are EPA or CARB certified. 

Q. I have been doing my own repairs for years, and now when I replace my vehicles’ brake pads, I usually replace the brake rotors. Do professional shops still resurface brake rotors?

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A. The traditional brake lathe doesn’t get much use these days. Brake rotors have come down in price and, in my opinion, quality as well. There was a time when brake rotors could be reused several times. Today, between rusting and warping, it is in the best interest of the customer to replace worn rotors with a quality new part. At car dealerships, an on-car lathe will sometimes be used to solve brake vibration problems on new vehicles while under warranty. These on-car lathes are able to compensate for any slight variations in rotor and hub fit. Like you, when I do any brake servicing on my own vehicles, I replace the rotors with the brake pads. 

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE-certified master technician. E-mail your car question to [email protected]

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