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How to Diagnose Front Seal Problems With Automatic Transmissions

by David Marsh

Automatic transmission front seal problems cause low transmission fluid levels within the automatic transmission. The front seal keeps transmission fluid from leaking out where the torque converter mounts to the transmission case. The front seal is usually made of rubber, much like the rubber in a windshield wiper blade. Certain signs will tell you whether the transmission is in need of repair.

Step 1

Check the transmission fluid level often. The dipstick for the transmission is usually located in the engine compartment toward the firewall. Check the level while the car is warmed up and on a flat surface. If the level falls within days of receiving new fluid, there is a leak, and it is likely to be in the front seal.

Step 2

Place a drop of the liquid on a paper towel and watch it for 30 seconds. If the fluid spreads widely and is red or light brown in color, the transmission fluid is healthy. If it doesn’t spread or is dark in color, the automatic transmission fluid should be changed.

Step 3

Look for spots of red colored liquid under the car. Transmission fluid looks like cherry syrup.

Step 4

Take the car for a drive and watch for a change in behavior. Automatic transmission fluid is more viscous when cold. If the car drives well when it's cold, but changes when it's warm, the transmission fluid is low.

Examine the behavior of the car. If it won't stay in drive, won’t move from a standstill without jerking, or shifts slowly or vaguely, the fluid level is low.

Items you will need

  • Paper towel

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