ATF coming out dipstick tube - Mercedes-Benz Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 06:31 AM Thread Starter
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ATF coming out dipstick tube

Hello all,

I have a 1988 260E with the 2.6 engine.

Running around town for a couple of years now, the tranny would once in a while not want to go into fourth gear. But it would always fix itself.

When I go on a long trip (say 40 minute 70 to 80 mph) on warm days This would happen for sure. The other day it happened and I noticed ATF had come back out the dipstick tube. Also during this trip, the coolant tank dropped low enough to trip the low coolant sensor.

The next after it cooled down, I found the ATF to be about 1/2 quart low. I replaced the fluid and she drives fine. I have not been on another long drive tho.

It did not feel like it was slipping at any point.

The radiator is around a year old.

Should I add a transmission cooler? Or is a rebuild around the corner?

Thanks
Joe
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 06:46 AM
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There is no such thing as self healing anything on any car.

In your case, are you positive you are not simply dealing with a case of a overfilled transmission?

As for coolant loss, there should not be a connection to the transmission unless the internal transmission cooler inside the radiator is bad. You said you installed a new radiator about a year ago? Is it a BEHR unit? If not, what brand is it?

If the radiator is leaking into the transmission, you can verify that easily by checking for a strawberry pink transmission fluid vs. the normal cherry red stuff.

Assuming the radiator is good, coolant loss can be anything from old radiator cap and hoses to head gasket going bad or anything in between. Does the car leak coolant overnight while sitting?
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 08:00 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the reply.

Not sure of make of radiator. Will check tonight.

The ATF is not a bright red but is red in color. If fluid is getting into it, wouldn't it overfill the transmission?When I checked it was about half a quart low?

By fix itself I meant it is working for daily use. I do not drive longer than 30 minutes very often. This is when it seems to act up.

Would overfilled or under filled fluid cause it to not go into third or fourth gear?
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 08:07 AM
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Overfilled as well as underfilled transmission can cause it to act up in all sorts of odd ways. Automatic fluid expands as it reaches full operating temp.

Overfilled usually causes foaming which causes cavitation. Since the automatic is essentially a hydraulic pump, if it can't move fluid it can't function properly

How are you checking the fluid exactly? It should be measured on a flat surface with the engine on and idling after the car has been driven for a while at moderate speeds and the engine has reached full operating temp +10 to 15 minutes.
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Last edited by sbaert; 04-05-2019 at 08:11 AM.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 08:12 AM Thread Starter
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I checked after engine idled for ten minutes, drove around the block. parked on flat surface. filled until level between two marks. let it idle a while, cycle through all gears. verified level did not change.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 08:14 AM
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That is not the way to really check it. You really need to take it out for a good 10-15 minute drive after reaching operating temp ideally at freeway speeds before checking the fluid.

"Just around the block" isn't nearly long enough to get all that fluid fully hot and circulating through the lines, radiator and transmission.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 08:20 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbaert View Post
That is not the way to really check it. You really need to take it out for a good 10-15 minute drive after reaching operating temp ideally at freeway speeds before checking the fluid.

"Just around the block" isn't nearly long enough to get all that fluid fully hot and circulating through the lines, radiator and transmission.

I will do that thanks!
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 08:35 AM
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There's a lot that could cause problems with your transmission that can be addressed short of a full rebuild. First, how many miles do you have on the car? Have you been good about changing transmission fluid, or have you fallen for the "lifetime fluid" B.S.? (No disrespect intended, by the way.) If the mileage is low and/or you've been good about changing the fluid every 40K miles or so, it's likely that the internals of the transmission are fine, especially if you've also treated the transmission nicely, e.g., no loaded torque converter burnouts, etc.

If I were you, I'd do a fluid flush including the torque converter (assuming it hasn't been done in at least 25K miles). I'd also check vacuum hoses for leaks. Check the vacuum modulator. Check linkages, and if you have a kick-down switch, check that. Sometimes they get stuck and the transmissions then don't upshift until the engine hits redline.

As for your fluid coming out of the dipstick tube, that's very weird. Was it much? Did it look foamy? If you have coolant entering the transmission from a faulty radiator, it would make the fluid look like a strawberry shake, e.g., kind of milky pink. If that's the case, stop driving the car immediately, replace the radiator, and then do several flushes of transmission fluid and pray to the automotive gods that your transmission somehow survives.

By the way, if you haven't, watch some of Kent Bergsma's YouTube videos on the topic. This link is to part 2 of a video where he's stumped by a transmission problem.

Good luck!

Kim G
Redding, CA
<i>Where our own '99 C280 developed a weird transmission problem after sitting for 2 months, which then vanished just as mysteriously.</i>
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 08:41 AM
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I'll second this (in fact had meant to put it in my original reply). But I'd go further and suggest driving the car for a good half-hour. You want the transmission fluid to get as hot as it's going to get before you measure the level. And if the level is high, then that could well be your problem. However, it seems like you had the problem before you added fluid, if I read your original post correctly.

Also, make sure the car is idling while you measure the fluid level. If the car is turned off, you won't get a correct reading.

Good luck!

Kim G


Quote:
Originally Posted by sbaert View Post
That is not the way to really check it. You really need to take it out for a good 10-15 minute drive after reaching operating temp ideally at freeway speeds before checking the fluid.

"Just around the block" isn't nearly long enough to get all that fluid fully hot and circulating through the lines, radiator and transmission.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 08:47 AM
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At a minimum you should really consider getting a new genuine Mercedes filter and pan gasket and a box of Mobil ATF D/M.

No synthetics, no Wally Mart elixirs, nada. And whatever you do, do NOT powerflush the transmission and torque converter.

Just drain and refill.
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