Leaky transmission ... fixed!

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Tim Shoppa, Nov 10, 2003.

  1. Tim Shoppa

    Tim Shoppa Guest

    My wife's '92 SL1 w/automatic had slowly been leaking transmission fluid
    since last winter... probably about a quart over the past year. The
    rate seemed to pick up now that cold weather had set in, so I decided
    to do something about it.

    A quick orientation: Unlike the classic 70's automatic transmissions that
    I had experience with, the Saturn's automatic has a pan on top instead of on
    the bottom. And a little bit of investigation revelaed that the fluid was
    leaking out around the edges of the pan... pretty much everything underneath
    the seam had a thick layer of grime and ATF on it.

    Removing the pan is not so bad. First I had to remove the battery and the
    battery tray... there are two bolts that are removed from the outside
    of the wheel well and two that are on the inside on the top. The air intake
    is also attached to the battery tray - rather than unbolt this, I just
    unhooked the whole air intake from the air filter and removed the intake
    and battery tray as one piece. It was still held on by a wire to a sensor -
    the air mass sensor?

    Then there are over a dozen bolts around the perimeter of the pan-top. Many
    were finger-loose, a sure sign that the seal probably wasn't working too well
    anymore. I cleaned away a dozen years of grime from pan and surroundings.

    There's also an electrical harness that plugs in through the top of the
    pan. A snap on cover is removed to reveal a single bolt holding that on.
    Easy to take off.

    Removing the pan revealed a "cooked" gasket. The edge on the engine side
    was hard and flaking away. The other side came off in one piece.

    The inner guts of the transmission looked brand new. I'm sure there's some
    wear because when I've changed the ATF there's always a little bit of shavings
    in it.

    I probably could've bought an "official" Saturn gasket to replace the cooked
    one, but it was Sunday afternoon and the parts desk wasn't open, so
    instead I just used some RTV silicone gasket compound to make my
    own, after carefully scraping off all the cooked pieces and degreasing.

    Seems to be holding up well so far today... the leak, if not completely
    gone, is way smaller than it had been. There's also an O-ring that goes
    around the dipstick tube, I should replace that just to make sure that nothing
    on the top will leak for a while longer, but I haven't gone to get the O-ring

    How long do RTV silicon gaskets hold up for? Am I probably going to have
    to repeat this before the next twelve years are done?

    Tim Shoppa, Nov 10, 2003
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