Stranded Roadside - Transmission Failure Suspected. Need Advice

alexk243

KulAdventure
Outside Laramie, WY in a snow storm right now (in June) and I'm pretty sure my transmission just went out. Tow is 5 hours wait (all the cars that slid off highway) and it's still coming down hard, so don't have a good way to check much. However I do have most of my tools with me, Fuchs Trans Fluid, and a transmission dipstick.

So I've been towing an enclosed cargo trailer since Illinois over 4 days. Day 1 I noticed ATF smell after a hill climb. Stopped checked it out and saw a leak from up top of the trans. Checked the level and it seemed fine so I assumed it was due to high temp and high level (changed fluid and filter about a month ago).

Continued on till South Dakota with no issues and no further sign of a leak. Heading into Wyoming and hit a snow storm, slowed my speed to 30 or so holding the trans selector on 3 and after that for a while I notice it won't shift up to 4 or D... I scan for codes while driving and get P0730 and P0715. Transmission appears to be stuck in 1 now. I keep driving for about 10 miles to get to a safe place to park and stop the van, turn engine off, let it sit, then restart it. Now the van won't move. Goes into D, N, R, but won't budge. Look underneath and everything is frozen up with a slushy ice... Not sure if that's related. I check the fluid level, none. I try to fill some up to make it to the next town and it appears to be coming immediately out of the torque converter area and onto the ground. Van will still not move.

Idling the engine for warmth and waiting 5-6 hours for a tow. Interstate is shut down.

Transmission shot?

Should I tow to AAMCO trans repair or just any shop that will install a rebuilt?
 

alexk243

KulAdventure
Did you drain the torque converter when you changed fluid?
Could you have lost the plug?

bill in tomahawk
I have done that in previous atf fluid changes 2-3 years ago), but I did not drain the torque converter on this last fluid/filter change... That was my thought too, but the timing seems odd for that also.
 

CJPJ

2008 3500 170"ext. 3.0 V6 OM642.993
 

alexk243

KulAdventure
Not sure I could get it towed that far.
 

Midwestdrifter

Engineer In Residence
Maybe your input shaft seal has failed? Its possible there is other mechanical damage which caused the seal to fail. Any odd vibration prior to the LHM?

Did you confirm the TC drain plug is in place? If it liberated you would loose fluid rapidly.

Replacing the input shaft seal isn't difficult itself. But the trans needs to come off the engine for access. Any decent shop can drop the trans, its a straight forward bolt-off, bolt-on affair. Access is good, and it will take about 4 hours total. probably less with a experienced tech. If you need to do it yourself, you need basic hand tools, a transmission jack, E torx sockets, rubber mallet, and strong arms.

For testing, Valvoline Maxlife ATF works fine, and is easy to locate.

Since you didn't have any odd shifting symptoms prior to the LHM, I believe the fluid loss is the primary cause. The NAG1 is a durable trans, so I wouldn't jump to the conclusion its toast.

Of note, overfilling the trans can cause it to overheat. Overheating can cause seal failure. Though typically the trans will go into LHM before the fluid gets that hot.
 
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Midwestdrifter

Engineer In Residence
With low fluid the trans is slipping, as the clutches can't build pressure. So you are going to get a code for that. I would check the drain plug before you get towed to a shop if possible. It wouldn't be the first time someone forgot to tighten a drain plug. Though I would expect you to have zero movement in that case, as the trans would dump fluid at a prodigious rate. Emptying the trans in minutes. Of course you could just be a on a slight downhill.
 

CJPJ

2008 3500 170"ext. 3.0 V6 OM642.993

mrkbrnblm

New member
Found myself in a similar situation 2 months ago in Bozeman and used heavyhaulers.com to get a tow to Linden Engineering. The 11 hour tow cost me $900, which seemed fairly reasonable to me... I won't tell you how much the transmission replacement cost, though. It was several times that.
 
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alexk243

KulAdventure
So update... Apparently all the highways near Laramie are closed and the tow truck couldn't get to us after 9hrs now.

I made another attempt at filling up the trans with a makeshift paper funnel. It didn't leak with the engine off and Van slightly inclined up and I was able to drive, as normal/no symptoms, into Laramie and I'm now staging with all the trucks waiting for the highway to open. I look understand while parked, uphill and engine running and there is a steady stream of ATF fluid coming out from the rubber torque converter covers.

At the rate it was coming out I'm surprised I made it to Laramie (18 miles). Is it possible it only leaks in certain driving conditions?

So... Tow to Linden? Keep filling and go drive to Linden?

I'm going to buy more ATF fluid and inspect the drain plug, but I really doubt that's it.
 

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
Is there no low fluid indicator or any warning prior to being too low?
The NAG1 transmission has no fluid level monitor or dash warning.
vic
 

CJPJ

2008 3500 170"ext. 3.0 V6 OM642.993
Not forget the probability of a engine fire if fluid gets on alternator or hot exhaust
So... Tow to Linden? Keep filling and go drive to Linden?
And a transmission stop leak can work by swelling a hardened seal
 

Patrick of M

2005 T1N 2500 (NA spec)
Why don't you go to a local shop and work out what's wrong? Or grab some cardboard slide under there take the inspection cover off and try to work out where the oil is coming from. If you made it 18 miles after selling an unknown quantity in there you can work out once you have a dipstick or improvised a dipstick what your rate of loss is.If you need to go deeper you can always bring it to Linden engineering, but it could be something simple.
 

Midwestdrifter

Engineer In Residence
I would get the inspection cover off and take a look. Check the drain plug. If its not the drain plug, check if its leaking in the rear face of the torque converter. Then get a container, and do a 1 minute idle drip test after topping up the fluid. Roughly measure your loss. plastic food containers, or water bottles typically have a marked capacity. The trans will run okay 1 qt low, and 1 qt overfilled. So in theory you could overfill 1qt, and drive until 1 qts have drained out.
 

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