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OK I was driving on a 2 hour road trip yesterday and suddenly the car started slipping at a high speed. I pulled over because the RPMs were high but my speed was low and I wasn't sure what was going on. There was a strange smell and a small amount of smoke. On this hot day things in the back side of the engine seemed a little wet but the car was not overheating at all.
As I was in the middle of nowhere I stopped for a second and made a few calls then tried again. The car seemed to slip again so I went back to Park. Then tried one more time. This time it drove fine. Actually I drove without incident for the length of the trip back home and had no more issues or smoke.

I had just gotten my oil changed a week ago and they indicated that my transmission fluid was full. When I checked it at home it was really low. Today I took it in to get the transmission fluid flushed and changed and the guy told me it had a 'serious leak' but he could not tell me where.

My question is.. Why would someone have a leak suddenly? I read somewhere where someones hose needed to be replaced as it had broken and sprayed liquid. That seems plausible to my situation.. I dont even know where to look for that. Ive looked for diagrams and such but cant locate. Also wondering if its not that.. Are there gaskets or something that go bad that can be replaced? Or am I just looking at replacing the transmission? I sure hope not..

Any insights would be greatly appreciated.. I called my local Honda place from the road and the guy didn't even let me finish talking before he said 'probably need to replace the transmission'. At that time I didn't know I had a leak.. I'm hoping that might be something fixable(???)


2002 Honda Odyssey EXL
 

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This is a quick "off the cuff" response - so please wait for other input.

You likely did have a serious leak - out of the breather tube for the transmission.

Haven't personally looked at that for the Ody, but have for other cars.

If the tranny is significantly overfilled then there can be some foaming and fluid will be ejected from the breather tube. If there is serious over heating (leading to an expansion of the tranny fluid) then it can also be vented in that same way.

Seems like in your case (if the tranny fluid was at proper level) you experienced the latter event. Of course the tranny fluid will then be low since some was blown out - ending up on the lower engine area and the exhaust - with the splashing on the exhaust giving rise to the smoke.

You may not have a leak in the traditional sense - but there is a problem. Perhaps after the fluid change (and maybe the introduction of a ATF cooler) you will get some more miles out of the car.

Best of luck.

P.S. And maybe you have a "traditional leak"- it's just that any reasonable mechanic should be able to find that quickly (and, as you indicate in your post, its hard to imagine it happening "spontaneously" and to such a severe extent that you lost a significant amount of fluid after the recent inspection/check - with no obvious hose fault issues ...).
 

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Like mem, I too think you had an overheating issue where the tranny fluid blew out of the blow off valve (or what ever the heck its called) to appear as a severe leak.

I recommend washing your engine bay, replacing the tranny fluid, the full replace with 4x drain and fill and then keeping an eye out. I have seen more and more posts of folks using Amsoil or Mobil 1 synthetic ATF without issues so since you already had a over heating issue with your ATF, I'd recommend switching to synthetic if you so choose.

Here's a post like yours though not sure if you had the same problem.

http://www.odyclub.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=45309&highlight=transmission+and+leak
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks to those who responded!

I took it in today to Honda Shop and they cleaned it up as they said there was fluid everywhere. They also said that they couldnt determine just by looking where the leak was coming from. They wanted me to bring it back in tomorrow as they thought now that it was clean they should be able to tell.

While the fluid overheating issue seems very likely for my issue on the road it sounds like I may still have a leak somewhere. I noticed after getting the fluid changed. I parked for like an hour and there was already a small wet spot on the pavement underneath.

Either way hopefully I will know tomorrow whats going on and will update.

Thanks again!
 

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I had a similar tranny leak on my 2001.
It turned out one of the transmission cooler pipes had rusted through. The shop was able to splice in a new section to repair, cheaper than replacing the whole pipe apparently.
It has been fine for about 3 years now.
 

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My '04 had a bad transmission case gasket that leaked drops onto the ground-- which required removal of the transmission and partial disassembly to replace the gasket, etc.-- but the leakage was not serious enough to perceive using the fluid dipstick.

A transmission case gasket leak is quite rare, FWIW, but expensive to have repaired. :(
 

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Check the drain plug for leaking if the van drips ATF after a change. Also, the shop may have spilled ATF and not been able to mop it up. I know it's banal, but better to eliminate the easy stuff first.
 
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