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2002 Ford ZX2 Transmission Mystery

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May 19, 2010, 11:10 AM

Post #1 of 1 (4098 views)
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I have a 2002 Ford ZX2 Escort with an automatic transmission. It has about 106,000 miles on it. I got the car when it had about 99,000, so for most of its life I really don't know for sure what was or what was not done to it/with it, etc.

It has had a moderate transmission leak ('ll see where I am going with this) since I got it, and I have simply been adding fluid to it as needed. The dripping would occur for a short while after driving the car, and gradually slow/subside to hardly anything later. Recently the transmission began to slip a bit, so I took it to a garage, who found the fluid to be quite low, even though I've been watching the level and have not seen any dramatic expulsion of fluid to account for how low the level was...where it went is a mystery to me. They added a good quantity of fluid, and the slipping was resolved. However, when I got home that night, the "leak" was quite faster. I drove the car today to work, and by the time I got there and parked, the dripping was really horrible...I'd say a drop came down every four or five seconds.

I took the car back to the garage, and they believed the pan gasket was leaking, so they pulled the pan and replaced the gasket and the transmission filter. On the very bad side, they did indeed find some debris in the pan once the transmission was open. Once the pan was back on, they checked for leaks there and elsewhere, and found none. However, once I drove it for just a few minutes and then parked, I found it to be dripping again in the very same place. After taking it back, they said the fluid is coming from the vent on transmission... that it's building up too much pressure in there for some reason or another and pushing it out via the vent. The upshot of this is they say the transmission is probably close to being shot. There is NO way I would invest the money in the car to take the trans and rebuild it, so the guy said he could try to find a salvage transmission and swap it out for a fairly lowball price. I'm also left with the question of whether the pan ever did leak or was the fluid always venting? No way to know, really.

Here's the question, finally: From what I have described, is this tranny going to die any moment? Is there a huge, IMMEDIATE problem inside that warrants perhaps swapping transmissions? I ask this because this car is meant to be my "beater" car that is meant to save my good car from taking some of the high miles I must drive. I am very reluctant to sink another generous hunk of cash into this car. If this venting may subside, I'd rather not. If, as low rent as it is, I could just catch the fluid in a tray when I park at home and work and replace the dripped amount, and squeeze a few thousand more miles out of the transmission that is dead anyway, I'd rather do that than just jump at getting another tranny right away, if I even decide to bother dealing with the issue at all. Failing either of those choices, I have a car that is basically scrap, because no one is going to want an eight year old car with a shot to heck, furiously dripping transmission.

Also, why would the transmission suddenly begin to just gush out fluid so dramatically? It was a small drip previously, whether the pan was leaking, or if it was venting it's close to being a darn river!

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