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Old 08-03-2010, 07:17 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 2
Mysterious ATF leak, coolant light on

Hi everyone--

I have a 1995 E320 with 110k miles.

About two months ago, it developed some transmission problems. First, it would only start in neutral occasionally. Then, it would have trouble in low gears--the engine would surge or have trouble up-shifting. This usually just happened when the engine was cold. I checked the ATF level, and it was low. Put about a quart and a half in (I think) and that fixed it--everything was working great for a month or so.

Then last week it developed similar problems--running roughly at low gears; at one point it totally refused to shift from first to second and was just limping along. I checked the transmission fluid again, and again--it was low. Refilled it and things are better.

So it seems pretty clear there's a leak somewhere. Only problem is I can't figure out where. No big puddles under the car, nothing in the engine compartment. Now, there is some sort of hose that runs right under the transmission, and is the lowest part of the undercarriage. This drips after I turn the car off for a little bit, but it's just water. Though occasionally when running my hand over the hose my fingers have come back red.

A possibly related issue is that my coolant light is now on. But the reservoir is at the regular level, and oil temperatures have been fine. My initial thought was that I'm leaking ATF into my radiator, but I don't see any red liquid in the coolant reservoir. I presume that the two (ATF and coolant) wouldn't mix together, and so there would be two definite layers. But I put a straw in there and just draw up nice neon green liquid.

This is really confounding, and I'd love to do the repairs myself--I just can't figure out what's wrong! Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

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Old 08-03-2010, 08:57 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Evansville WI
Posts: 9,616
If the failure is the trans cooler, the atf definitely will mix with coolant, the result, with the MB yellowish coolant, will loook like pepto bismol. Not sure with the green coolant, wiould look pretty weird I'm sure.
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Old 08-04-2010, 05:19 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Southeastern PA
Posts: 3,052
MissyR2, for starters replace the green coolant with MB coolant or Zerex G-05 to prevent other problems with your engine.
Fred Hoelzle
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Old 08-04-2010, 09:16 AM
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Tucker, Ga USA
Posts: 12,153
That transmission has a vacuum modulator & fluid can be "sucked" thru that modulator & be burned inside the engine.

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