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HELP!!! My ATF smells like gear oil!
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thesixpackcaptain
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 6:07 am    Post subject: HELP!!! My ATF smells like gear oil! Reply with quote

Excuse my newness here but I checked my automatic transmission fluid in my new to 1986 vanagon and it was over the full mark on the dipstick and it had a slight smell like gear oil. I'm kinda mechanically inclined but this stumps me a bit. I know the transmission has 2 sections to it an automatic half and a half with the differential gears in it. Can I assume there is a seal between the 2 that is leaking? Would this be as simple as taking it out, taking the 2 halves apart and putting a new gasket in? I spoke with the previous owner and he said he had it rebuilt/resealed about 2 years ago. He had a remanufactured torque convertor installed and had some Audi parts put in to upgrade it for the Subaru 2.2 engine.It shifts fine, with no slipping but I am really concerned about the gear oil smell my ATF has. Should I just change the ATF, look at the screen and keep an eye on it or pull it out and attempt the repairs myself? Shocked
any help would be appreciated!!
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insyncro
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like the seal between the diff and transmission has gone bye bye allowing the two fluids to mix.
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James 93SLC
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 7:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

insyncro wrote:
Sounds like the seal between the diff and transmission has gone bye bye allowing the two fluids to mix.


X2

Don't drive it till it's fixed. Hopefully the ATF is only in the final drive section and the gear oil isn't in the Auto section.

ATF in final drive = not as big a deal.

Gear oil in Auto = Auto rebuild time since the gear oil trashes the clutch plates.
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insyncro
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

James 93SLC wrote:
insyncro wrote:
Sounds like the seal between the diff and transmission has gone bye bye allowing the two fluids to mix.


X2

Don't drive it till it's fixed. Hopefully the ATF is only in the final drive section and the gear oil isn't in the Auto section.

ATF in final drive = not as big a deal.

Gear oil in Auto = Auto rebuild time since the gear oil trashes the clutch plates.


BINGO!
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AtlasShrugged
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 7:57 am    Post subject: Re: HELP!!! My ATF smells like gear oil! Reply with quote

thesixpackcaptain wrote:
Excuse my newness here but I checked my automatic transmission fluid in my new to 1986 vanagon and it was over the full mark on the dipstick and it had a slight smell like gear oil. I'm kinda mechanically inclined but this stumps me a bit. I know the transmission has 2 sections to it an automatic half and a half with the differential gears in it. Can I assume there is a seal between the 2 that is leaking? Would this be as simple as taking it out, taking the 2 halves apart and putting a new gasket in? I spoke with the previous owner and he said he had it rebuilt/resealed about 2 years ago. He had a remanufactured torque convertor installed and had some Audi parts put in to upgrade it for the Subaru 2.2 engine.It shifts fine, with no slipping but I am really concerned about the gear oil smell my ATF has. Should I just change the ATF, look at the screen and keep an eye on it or pull it out and attempt the repairs myself? Shocked
any help would be appreciated!!


First..check the level of the gear oil in the diff. Remove the filler plug and see if the diff gear oil is very low (hopefully not) or the diff is full of ATF (bad). Only takes a few minutes once the van is up in the air and LEVEL.

If the gear oil level is good..right at the lower edge of the fill hole or slightly below (like half a cup of gear oil)..your fine.

Old ATF can smell weird..depends on what brand and how long its been in there. Also the diff may never have been serviced too.

The level in the diff will tell the story..keep us updated.
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are multiple seals separating the gear oil from the ATF, including the pinion seal is buried deep inside the differential section. The differential must be totally disassembled to get at this seal so care must be taken to punch mark the carrier bearing adjusting nuts so you can get them back in their exact original position.

Depending on the design/brand of the replacement governor shaft seal, this seal can be hard to drive in without the rubber being ripped off around the edges of the seal. At about a buck a pop it is cheap insurance to buy an extra in case you mess the first one up.
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edgood1
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

out of curiosity do you know what viscosity gear oil was used in the differential?

The paper seal between the diff and auto section seal is pretty easy to change. You have to remove the auto section from the differential. There are 4 nuts that hold them together.

I haven't done it (yet) with the transmission still installed in the van, but I've heard of people doing it and it looks very doable. You'll have to support the transmission at the differential, remove the front mount (FIF) and disconnect the ATF cooler. This is a perfect opportunity to replace that with an air cooler (do a search).

Personally, I'd just drop the whole transmission. I'd be too worried with getting dirt into the auto section, which is important that it stays clean. I have one all apart on my bench now and I'm still worried that its not clean enough.
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James 93SLC
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I checked my automatic transmission fluid in my new to 1986 vanagon and it was over the full mark on the dipstick and it had a slight smell like gear oil.


I just reread your first post. That's not a good sign if it is fact gear oil.

As AtlasShrugged suggested, pull the final drive fill plug on the side and check the gear oil level.
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thesixpackcaptain
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thank you for the responses!!
I checked the ATF on the way home from work this morning and yep.......it is over full with a smell of gear oil .Hope I didn`t wreck anything. I will check the gear oil level this afternoon and report back. I think I`ll pull the pan off and look at the screen. Is it a bad idea to maybe change the fluid and screen-filter, drive it for a few days and keep an eye on it? Is the gear oil plug the same size allen key as what an older aircooled transmission plug would be? I have one of those here somewhere..17mm???
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AtlasShrugged
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 9:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thesixpackcaptain wrote:
thank you for the responses!!
I checked the ATF on the way home from work this morning and yep.......it is over full with a smell of gear oil .Hope I didn`t wreck anything. I will check the gear oil level this afternoon and report back. I think I`ll pull the pan off and look at the screen. Is it a bad idea to maybe change the fluid and screen-filter, drive it for a few days and keep an eye on it? Is the gear oil plug the same size allen key as what an older aircooled transmission plug would be? I have one of those here somewhere..17mm???


Yep..same as the old air cooled 17mm allen, unless the dreaded PO made a change.

Don't go crazy..just plan on checking the diff fluid. If it is slightly low..don't sweat it. I recall the diff only holds like 1.4 quarts. If you got an elevated reading on the ATF dipstick..your down a quart in the diff. It will be very noticeable..like it will seem empty! Get ready to take the diff and trans out.

If the diff is OK. Celebrate by servicing the transmission and diff after you have your favorite beverage.
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insyncro
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AtlasShrugged wrote:
thesixpackcaptain wrote:
thank you for the responses!!
I checked the ATF on the way home from work this morning and yep.......it is over full with a smell of gear oil .Hope I didn`t wreck anything. I will check the gear oil level this afternoon and report back. I think I`ll pull the pan off and look at the screen. Is it a bad idea to maybe change the fluid and screen-filter, drive it for a few days and keep an eye on it? Is the gear oil plug the same size allen key as what an older aircooled transmission plug would be? I have one of those here somewhere..17mm???


Yep..same as the old air cooled 17mm allen, unless the dreaded PO made a change.

Don't go crazy..just plan on checking the diff fluid. If it is slightly low..don't sweat it. I recall the diff only holds like 1.4 quarts. If you got an elevated reading on the ATF dipstick..your down a quart in the diff. It will be very noticeable..like it will seem empty! Get ready to take the diff and trans out.

If the diff is OK. Celebrate by servicing the transmission and diff after you have your favorite beverage.


Really sound advice.
Thank you.
I have owned 4 total vans with the automatic transmission.
All were 90 or 91s.
2 are Carats, 1 now is a Syncro and the fourth a Camper.
I didn't explore them much other than fluid flushes and new pan gaskets.
They all drove very smoothly.
I have read about the seal going and checked mine at the begining and middle of the driving season for them. They slept all winter.
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thesixpackcaptain
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2011 9:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So heres an update.............first off thanks for all the advice guys!!!

I: checked the gear oil level = fine, level with bottom of filler hole
-pulled the pan, gear oil was nice and clean, no fragments in the bottom
- drained the ATF = smelled bad, like gear oil,
-pulled the pan, screen nothing in the bottom of the pan or stuck in the screen..

So I feel quite lucky and I guess safe to say that all is well with my transmission.

Later today I plan to refill both with fresh oil. I want to use some synthetic to replace the gear oil, and want to do the same for the ATF but Im not sure how to get all six liters out of the system. If Im correct, the torque convertor holds about 3 liters?? How do I get these 3 L out without separating the trans and actually draining the TC?? Can I jack the wheels off the ground,start the van and run it thru the gears to use the internal pump to empty the TC?? Will this damage anything?? Or should I just refill it with some Dexron 3 or equivalent synthetic??

Again.............THANKS FOR ALL THE HELP!!!! I was really worried about a major $$$ job to fix this but as of today all seems well in my camp!!

Any more advice would be much appreciated!!!
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Vango Conversions
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2011 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like you're probably okay, old ATF can smell funky so draining and refilling the diff and the auto is a good idea.

The diff is straightforward, drain and refill. Done.

On the auto, only about half the fluid drains easily, so what I do is to drain what comes out, then fill it to the proper level, drive it for a day or so then drain and refill again. That way you get about 3/4 of the fluid out and you don't run the risk of hurting anything by running it dry. If that isn't good enough, you could drain and refill it a third time, then you'd have changed about 7/8 of it.

Keep an eye on your levels though and make sure you don't really have a leak between the two.
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2011 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You just have to change the ATF repeatedly if you want to flush out the majority of the old oil. On a normal drain schedule you just replace enough of the oil with each change to keep the overall fill in usable condition.

I think I would just refill with standard ATF for now and watch it for a while to see what happens to it. If everything looks kosher after a few thousand miles then I would consider going to more expensive oils.
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AtlasShrugged
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2011 9:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Changing the diff fluid..helps to have a "suction gun" as there no drain plug in the diff pan. If you take the diff pan off...the gasket is about $40.00 or more. I think the diff pan gasket is from a very rare rain forest cork tree..and reflects the environmental damage done to the planet with your cash contribution.

Or..I would recommend, just leave the gear oil alone..it was probably changed two years ago when the transmission work was done. Gear oil lasts a long time, like 60k to 100k miles.

Transmission fluid...its not that old either. What alarmed you was an odor rather than a operational problem. You are wise to use all your senses when working on your machines, not just sight and sound.

I would suggest you go forward with the transmission service and do not be concerned with getting all the fluid out. Drop the pan..replace the filter and replace the rubber gasket. Be sure and get the pan back on evenly and watch the gasket..they are too small by a fraction and might creep when bolting the pan down. Top it back up and enjoy the ride.

I like Valvoline Maxlife ATF, it smells great!!...stopped a weeping 2nd gear band piston seal on a vanagon automatic. Its very good stuff for our older slush gearboxes.


Valvoline MaxLife™ DEX/MERC ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluid) is the first fluid of its kind that is specifically formulated for today’s technologically sophisticated automatic transmissions. It is formulated with premium base stocks, unique seal conditioners, long-life friction modifiers, special anti-wear additives, and shear stable viscosity modifiers, among other performance packages, to fight the four major causes of transmission breakdown, including leaks, slippage, shudder and gear wear. Valvoline MaxLife™ ATF is recommended for use in most new and rebuilt transmissions and will not void new car warranties.
The Valvoline MaxLife™ ATF Advantages:
• Synthetic fluid
• Conditions transmission seals to prevent leaks
• Reduces varnish formation and wear
• Improves and maintains smooth shifting longer than conventional automatic transmission fluids
• Provides excellent flow properties at low temperatures and greater film protection at high temperatures
• Maximizes the life of higher mileage transmissions
.
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thesixpackcaptain
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2011 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Once again thanks for the input!! Very Happy

I just got in with some Amzoil 75-90, a suction pump and a few exhaust goodies.

I stumbled on getting ATF. I d like to put in synthetic but am unsure about its compatability with the non-synth that is still in the t.c. I like the idea of adding the same as whats in already and just keeping an eye on it over the next bunch of miles and then doing the full synthetic dealio in a few months.

What does anyone know about the Dexron 6 I saw in the FLAPS?? Is this the latest generation that replaces Dexron 3?? Can I or should I use it?

Thanks again !!
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2011 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thesixpackcaptain wrote:
Once again thanks for the input!! Very Happy

I just got in with some Amzoil 75-90, a suction pump and a few exhaust goodies.

I stumbled on getting ATF. I d like to put in synthetic but am unsure about its compatability with the non-synth that is still in the t.c. I like the idea of adding the same as whats in already and just keeping an eye on it over the next bunch of miles and then doing the full synthetic dealio in a few months.

What does anyone know about the Dexron 6 I saw in the FLAPS?? Is this the latest generation that replaces Dexron 3?? Can I or should I use it?

Thanks again !!


Use the Valvoline MaxLife ATF. It is compatible..no issues. Its done all the time.
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2011 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pretty sure the latest Dexron is backwards compatible will earlier Dexrons. Should say so on the can. Any synthetic ATF that says it is compatible with Dexron should work as well. They would hopefully have a warning in big letters if it isn't.

I started to use a synthetic ATF in my 411, but on doing some research it didn't sound like it would be a major improvement. It pretty much specced out exactly like regular ATF. Had the same viscosity at every temperature and had the same maximum service temperature. Check out the MSDS for whatever products you are thinking of buying.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a quick update..................

I re-installed both the pans, re-filled the diff with Amzoil 75-90, and used Mobil 1 Dexron VI in the auto portion. Took the van for a nice long spin. Might just be my imagination but I`m noticing some smoother shifting up and down, especially when stomping on it and kicking in the passing gear. Did a stop and checked both levels, let the diff fill drain a bit so it was just trickling out and topped up the ATF.

I plan to keep an eye on both levels for the next while to ensure that there is no fluid exchange between the 2 halves.

Finished the work session with the install of the rest of my Loogy supplied `Powerflex` front end bushings.

As of this moment everything seems to be ayyyyooooooooohhhhhhhhhkkkay!!

Thanks for all the input, with hindsight being 20-20 I guess my worst case scenario train of thought came into the station and led me astray. I hope so anyways.

thanks for all the advice guys!! Very Happy Very Happy
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very Happy
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