transmission leak, '89 300E
Jeff Lawrence seems to have the best answer, so far. Local shop says most likely the front pump seal and o-ring: $5 in parts,eight hours labor. There is a possibility that another, easier-to-repair leak may be the problem, but they have not yet put it on the rack.
I'm told that the problem I described is usually the front pump seal, as long as the drain plugs are tight(FWIW to all of you).
Thank you all for your consideration and response.
Late breaking news. This just in: I damaged the trans myself by backing for a great distance (1/4 mile, perhaps) a few days ago.
I have never had an automatic transmission before, and have never before heard that there are such limits on the use of reverse gear. My shop tells me that is the problem without a doubt. For anyone as ignorant as I was, it may also be useful to know that these transmissions will heat up so much when idling for a long time that the front pump seal will literally melt.
[Edited by BillFranklin on 07-16-2001 at 06:28 AM]