Trans fluid in Rad? Van troubles....

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roylt

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So my van started to act funny last week sort of stuttering going up hill. I check fluid and it was down 3/4 qt. Topped it up and hoped for the best. I also have been looking for good used tires. Found some rims and tires on Craigs list and put those on Wednesday. I new I needed some front end repair based on tire wear so I made an appointment to get an align. Took it in Friday and they come back with 2200.00 in repairs so I said hold on for now. (2001 olds silhouette) One of the things was rad flush because oil in there. I had the heads fixed last Nov so they concluded the oil was leftover from that job. I picked the van back up and went to napa to get Lucas trans fix stuff and figured I'd try that first. Checked out the trans dip stick when I got home (very short drive so motor was not warmed up) and it showed low. Looked in rad over flow and it was very oily. It seemed more like trans fluid to me though but I already had trans on my hand so the smell test didn't work well.

So now I think I am screwed. I don't have the money or time to dump into this old van. And I think the trans is leaking into the radiator and the trans is slipping bacause of rad fluid.

I really like the van but looking at 4K to fix it seems silly.

Suggestions / thoughts? Also how to confirm it really is trans in the radiator. The shop didn't so I'm not sure I'm right.

Thanks for listening if nothing else.
 

wwb

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Jimbo357mag said:
Trans fluid in the coolant sounds like you need a new radiator.

Yup.... the most likely culprit is a leak in the trans cooler. Not familiar with that particular model. but the trans cooler is generally built into the radiator lower tank.
 

SAJohn

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Most car radiators have a separate section used to cool the transmission fluid. If a crack develops between the two, transmission fluid can leak into the coolant fluid. While that will not do any harm, the coolant fluid can also go the other direction. If water gets into the transmission it will quickly destroy the transmission.

Inspect your transmission fluid, if it is milky and/or frothy you may have lost the transmission. Even if the transmission fluid looks OK you will need to replace the radiator and drain and flush the transmission and replace its' filter. Good luck.
 

powder smoke

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SAJohn said:
Most car radiators have a separate section used to cool the transmission fluid. If a crack develops between the two, transmission fluid can leak into the coolant fluid. While that will not do any harm, the coolant fluid can also go the other direction. If water gets into the transmission it will quickly destroy the transmission.

Inspect your transmission fluid, if it is milky and/or frothy you may have lost the transmission. Even if the transmission fluid looks OK you will need to replace the radiator and drain and flush the transmission and replace its' filter. Good luck.

Agreed! ps
 

Acorn

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Be thankful the coolant isn't going into the trans. I had a Chevy p/u that did. Overflows up the dipstick onto the exhaust and caught fire.
IDK how mechanical you are but I might do it myself if I were you.
 

roylt

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The fluid in the trans / motor / rad all look "normal" not foamy or anything. The oil in the rad is a sign of a problem for sure though.

I guess it may be time to cut my loss and look for something else. Gun sale may be in my future....
 

Jeepnik

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You can plug the trans cooler in the radiator. Then install an air cooler in front of the radiator. On my vehicles I've always run through the radiator trans cooler and then to an air cooler. Keeps tranny cooler (heat is the real enemy of a tranny).

Then again, I've always run a lower temp thermostat in the cooling system than put in by the factory. I don't live where it snows, so I've never had to worry about the engine running too cold, which can happen, though most folks wouldn't believe.
 

Acorn

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Jeepnik said:
You can plug the trans cooler in the radiator. Then install an air cooler in front of the radiator. On my vehicles I've always run through the radiator trans cooler and then to an air cooler. Keeps tranny cooler (heat is the real enemy of a tranny).

Then again, I've always run a lower temp thermostat in the cooling system than put in by the factory. I don't live where it snows, so I've never had to worry about the engine running too cold, which can happen, though most folks wouldn't believe.

Good thought. Would be cheaper and easier than replacing the rad.
 

Dan in MI

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I was going to suggest Jeepnik's idea, BUT this is only a temporary fix for diagnosis. The air (aux) cooler will not work well enough to be a long term fix. It should prove out if the in tank trans cooler is the culprit though.

Now the flip side is you still need to drain and flush both systems at some point. Plumbing in an aux cooler if you don't have one on hand means you need to buy one. Now you are spending money again for a temporary fix.

I would go a radiator shop. Have them pressure test both the rad and in tank cooler. That will prove if it is the in tank cooler and if you need to replace the radiator.
 

roylt

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did a little car shopping tonight and was surprised all the dealers closed so early on Sat night. It was only 7PM. One said open to 8 but was closed...

Buick lacerne looks good but not sure I can fit, tall guy.
 

CLAYPOOL

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Put on new Radiator. Install Trans cooler in front of new rad. Flush trans. Some small collages have auto courses that have students that don't have projects yet. Go by and ask the instructor(s) if they can help retired guy. Act broke. Tell sob story and its probably not far from the truth... They may do all the work, BUT YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR THE PARTS..
 

RSIno1

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Take a look on eBay for your radiator. Cheapest price I found local for our 05 Ford Escape radiator was over $150. I bought the same Chinese radiator on eBay for $62 delivered to the door.
 

6gun

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I would replace the radiator even if it has to be a junk yard one, I would also drain the trans and replace the filter and refill with new fluid.
 

blume357

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I'm going to vote for a radiator change out too.... somewhat of a pain, but you can do it with patients. (sp?) along with the flush mentioned.... but then a good independent shop with few employees might not charge you more than $200-300 more than the materials will cost.
 

opos

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Been there done that with my old suburban..lucky the flow was Trans to radiator rather than radiator to trans which would have blown the whole works...it won't heal on it's own and no addatives will work..it's on borrowed time until you replace or repair the radiator and trans cooler...
 

roylt

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Shop said it is $750 for rad change. And they have to drain and refill the AC. I assume the condenser has to be pulled too.

I have been living on thousand dollar cars for years but am getting tired. It wasn't so bad before when I didn't have kids or even when I had kids and a wife to help around but this single Dad stuff takes a lot of time and money. That is why I am leaning on giving up on it. The last 3 vans I've had cost me about 3K with purchase and repairs and then I only got about a year out of them before moving on. Selling and buying "better" as I went. I figure if I get a loan and pay more for a vehicle I wouldn't loose any more than I have been. A nicer vehicle should be better right? Or maybe jump in to my neck and get a new vehicle with warranty etc?

Lot to think about yet.

Thanks for the replies.
 

wheelgun1958

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If you're hauling kids around, reliability is paramount. Perhaps new is the way to go. Bite the bullet or at the least get AAA at the plus level. It provides a 100 mile tow among other benefits. I've had luck with off lease vehicles with low mileage.
 

Jimbo357mag

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Ask around among your friends, at church, at bingo where ever you go. Try to get a vehicle less than 10 years old with less than 150,000 miles and in good shape. Should cost around 3-5 thousand and you should get some time and miles out of it before you have to get rid of it. That is really the sweet spot for miles/dollar. :D
 

6gun

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Is your handy enough to change out a radiator which is a very easy job, do it yourself, most new radiators cost around $250 the shop is charging you about $500 for a one hour job minus fluids.
 

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