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Old 09-11-2012, 12:13 AM   #1
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Default 2003 Lesabre Transmission Fluid Leak

Some background that may or may not be related.
1) Shortly before my problems began, I recall coming down over an overpass that had a sharp transition from downhill to flat road and I felt a bit of a beating on the front end. That night, or the next, I recall hearing a suspicious sound (like steel snapping) when stopping the car in my driveway. I never heard it again since.

2) A day or two later, I recognized another sound that I eventually diagnosed as a bad passenger side bearing, but not before replacing the driver'* side 1/2 shaft.

3) After the 1/2 shaft install, I was leaking trans fluid.

4) I brought the car to a trans specialist who decided that I had bumped the seal while installing the 1/2 shaft. He replaced the seal and did a needed fluid purge, filter and gasket replacement.

5) The next day, fluid is still leaking.

6) I brought the car back to the trans shop where they decided the problem was not the seal, but rather an internal issue and they would have to disassemble the trans to find out what that was.

7) I agree that the leak is from the seal or nearby. Fluid is accumulating just under the driver'* side seal behind a metal shield.

The trans specialist could not explain what he expects to find and I am afraid that he is guessing. The best he could describe is that something supporting the output shaft may have broken. The cost to open the trans and put it back together is $750 and the cost of repairs beyond that are TBD. Could my incident in #1 above damaged the trans as well as the front wheel bearing? I feel absolutely no symptoms to indicate trans problems. Can anyone explain what internal issue would cause this leak if the seal is properly installed?

9) Another possibility is that I cracked the trans housing while prying out the 1/2 shaft. A metal shield prevents me from seeing that easily. Does anyone have experience to know if that shield can be removed enough to see the housing without first removing the 1/2 shaft again? Is there a housing side cover on the driver'* side that can be replaced if it is cracked? Anyone have a diagram of this side of the transmission?
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Old 09-11-2012, 05:28 AM   #2
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I'm wondering if the seal behind the 6 bolts in the black circle is bad? Its the only other place I can think of that trans fluid would leak out. Bad thing is, its a $2 gasket, but would require dropping half of your subframe so you can get the trans half out to remove the side pan.
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Old 09-11-2012, 08:59 AM   #3
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Default 2003 Lesabre Transmission Fluid Leak

Thanks for the picture. That is perfect. I don't have a lift and I have not gotten underneath yet to take a look, so I could not tell that what I was calling a metal shield is as large as the picture reveals. The output shaft "seal" has already been replaced. I am not sure why you say "behind the six bolts". Are you referring to a seal other than the obvious 3" round seal around the output shaft?

Is there anything under that "metal pan" that covers the entire side of the transmission that could leak into the pan?
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Old 09-11-2012, 09:03 AM   #4
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OK. I looked at the picture closer. I think you are telling me that there is a gasket other than the output shaft seal that is between the large pan and the housing. The six bolts go through that seal. Is that right? That is exactly what I wanted to know. I wonder if I damaged that gasket while prying out the 1/2 shaft. Please explain. Is there fluid in that pan that you think is leaking into the area under the output shaft seal, rather than from the output shaft seal into that area?
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Old 09-11-2012, 11:54 AM   #5
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You are correct. Their is another seal the same diameter as the 6 bolts. And yes, their is fluid in that big sidepan. And it may be possible that you did damage that gasket.
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Old 09-11-2012, 09:04 PM   #6
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Mike - Thank you very much for responding. I think I have my head around it now. Too bad the job is a bit more than I want to try to do on the ground. Thanks for taking that engine out of your car just to show me. You did not have to do that
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Old 09-11-2012, 09:07 PM   #7
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Oh, no worries. I once took it out to show someone how to change the oil before. Actually, that was from my first engine change. Now, I'm on my 4th engine...the saga continues...
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