Is water in auto transmission a death sentence?

Discussion in 'Automotive Electronics' started by strantor, Sep 19, 2017.

  1. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
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    I finished my Harvey Celica project. She's ready to go, put about 500mi on it already. Now I have an '07 Ford focus my buddy dropped off with me, another Harvey victim. I cleaned out the connectors and the fuel pump module. No water in the ECU. Found a short and removed fuses one-by-one till it went away. Not sure what it was for and don't care right now. The car runs after charging the battery (completely dead). All seems well electrically. But i have pink foam in the transmission. Ive heard that will kill an automatic transmission. The clutch plates will absorb water. But I put it in gear and drove it up and down the driveway a few times and it seems fine. I'm wondering if I can just drain and fill the transmission and maybe dodge a bullet. Or is this guaranteed death?
     
  2. strantor

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    I've done some more reading on the topic and realized a drain & fill won't cut it. There's a slim chance if I get it flushed at a shop it might survive, but it's had water in the tranny 20-something days now, so I'm not overly optimistic. Might try it though, before buying a new tranny.
     
  3. shortbus

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    I don't know about the new transmissions, but I had a '72 Dodge van that the trans cooler went bad in. The oil was like a strawberry milk shake. Drained and changed the filter, drove it for a week and did it again. Back then they didn't have the drain and flush machines like now, had to do it twice because the torque converter has a bout half of the total oil amount. Took two changes to dilute it enough to get the water in it down to a low enough level. Never had any problems with the transmission at all after that.
     
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  4. debe

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    Sep 21, 2010
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    Here in Australia its not uncommon for BA Ford falcons to finish up with coolant in the Auto trans. Its considered a rebuild is in order. But some have opted for a good flush out & have got away with it. You have nothing to loose by trying a flush.
     
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  5. tcmtech

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    Depending on how much actual water is in the fluid and how it got there to begin with it may be fine. It really doesn't take much to get ATF to turn pink and start to foam up.
    If it was me I would drain it the best you can then drive it for a day then do it again and see what the fluid looks like.

    If it's just from age related condensation due to lack of use the overall amount it has will likely not be much and the 1 - 2 fluid changes should take care of the majority of it. After that a good long drive that gets it good and warm will drive off anything else that's left. Ideally if it has a trailer hitch put something that's near its upper towing limit behind it and hit the interstate for a few hours.

    Either it will work or it won't.
     
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  6. #12

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    I went to transmission school and learned the answers. The clutch plates are coated with paper and water removes the paper.:(
    I killed one intentionally. I put a quart of water in the transmission and it was dead in less than 20 miles.:eek:

    You did a bad thing driving it with water in the transmission!:mad: Your best chance was to not stir the water into the fluid and pump the mixture to all the clutches. Rather hope the oil is floating on top of the water and let it all out the drain plug. Now you have a matter of quantities and time and probability. I'm not going to explain that because you can figure it out.

    Driving the car up to operating temperature will boil off the water, if it lasts long enough to boil water.
    Another way is to put the tranny fluid in a lobster pot and heat it to 250 F. That will make the water leave without pumping it into the clutch packs and it won't hurt the oil at all. Besides, with Mercon V at nearly $5 per quart, that can decimate a couple of Benjamins.

    The bottom line is: Sneak up on it. Do not disturb. Get the fluid and water out and separate them with heat...or buy new transmission fluid, but do not mix well and apply liberally.:(
     
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  7. strantor

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    Somehow I knew you'd be qualified to answer @#12 .
    I think I'm going to trailer the car up to the Quick lube and get the tranny flushed. I don't have a lobster pot but I do have a car hauler.
     
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  8. #12

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    Well...good time to see if the intake filter is dirty, adjust the adjustments, etc. Remember, AAMCO will refuse to do a standard, "Annual Filter and Adjustment Service" and try to sell you an overhaul, even if you rebuilt the transmission 9 months ago in the AAMCO transmission school and it's in perfect condition. I know because that's what they did to me.:mad:

    Then I brought them my 15,000 mile old AAMCO warrantied transmission and they gave me the same song and dance. They swore my transmission was completely shot, "Might not make it out of the parking lot". I whipped out the warranty papers and told them to go ahead with the overhaul, but they refused, sending me home with a wrecked transmission which was still running just fine when I sold the van, 4 years later.

    Try anybody except AAMCO!!! And be prepared to haul it to a second and third transmission shop. AAMCO doesn't have a monopoly on dishonesty.
     
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  9. bwilliams60

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    Nov 18, 2012
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    If the vehicle has been under water, best to change all the fluids. Engine, transmission, differential, etc. Water in a transmission should be flushed out completely before you drive it. If it was under water it is going to smell really bad for a long time. Good luck with that one. I have done a few cars that have been in the swamp. Not fun.
     
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  10. strantor

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    I just picked up the focus from the Quick Lube place, and they said they pulled 14 quarts of water out of the transmission. They flushed it twice and put a new filter in, but there's still a little bit of pinkish milky fluid. I wish that the $200 I spent here would count toward the purchase of a new transmission if this doesn't work out.
     
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  11. tcmtech

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    WOW! :eek:

    I'm going to give that one a 80% chance it don't make it another 1000 miles. :(

    How do you get 14 quarts of water to fit a Ford Focus transmission any way? They are not that big so it had to be damn near running out the dipstick. :confused:
     
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  12. strantor

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    Got the car off the trailer at home and drove it 20 miles. Easy and gentle at first, ramping up to a torture test toward the end. Car drove just fine. No weird noises, smells. No slipping or sticking. I'm going to drive it back and forth to work for a week and if it doesn't puke it's clutches I'll call it good enough for my intended use (donor car for an off-road project).
     
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  13. #12

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    The transmissions I'm accustomed to have an overflow hole a few quarts above the, "full" line. (That's where the water vapor goes when you warm them up.) I have only overflowed one. It went about 2.5 quarts above the "full" line, then puked out the top of the transmission.
     
  14. shortbus

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    I'm not sure about the clutches going bad in a modern transmission. Even though some still use 'paper' faces, they are also treated with resin. And a lot of them are now either synthetic(kevlar, etc) or bronze faced. And even the paper ones would be thoroughly soaked in transmission oil. The more you drive it and get it up to temperature the little bit of water will be driven out by the heat.
     
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  15. SLK001

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    I think that they are "pulling your leg"!
     
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  16. strantor

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    Maybe, not sure what their motive would be. Fluid was half way up the dip stick tube.
     
  17. tcmtech

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    I'm guessing 14 quarts including the original fluids plus maybe whatever additional was added during the flushing process being nothing I can find online saying either one of the two types of automatic transmissions used for that range of years held more than 10 - 12 quarts total to begin with. 4 - 5 in the pan and 6 - 7 in the converter, clutch packs and passages and cooler line sets is the typical estimated numbers I am seeing on other sites.

    There's just not enough physical room in the cases to hold much more fluid than that anywhere.
     
  18. shortbus

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    They probably flushed till it was not showing water/oil emulsion color. TCM is right about fluid amount.
     
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