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RepaiR oR Replace? peRsistent leak looks pRicey to fix

shop told me I had a very bad oil leak coming
from the transmission. They showed me
the leak, and it was pretty bad. They weren’t
exaggerating just to sell me some repair work.
They put a tracer dye in the transmission oil
to help locate the leak and told me the leak is
likely coming from the oil cooler lines. I took
it to the Honda dealer where I bought it, and
they said the same thing, so I had them fix it.
Three months later, at the same quicklube
Dear Car Talk:
shop, they told me my transmission had a bad
I have a 2006 Honda Accord EX-L with a 3.0
oil leak. I didn’t believe them, and told them
L V-6 engine. I bought it used 10 years ago as
I had that fixed by the Honda dealer. Sure
a Honda Certified Used Car with 46,000 miles
enough, it was still leaking!
on it. For the first seven years, I only drove it
They checked for the leak again and now
once or twice a week, mostly in town, with
said the gasket between the two halves of
occasional 120-mile highway trips to the big
the transmission case was leaking, and the
city. I keep the vehicle very well maintained,
transmission would have to come out to
and it was a great, problem-free car. About change the gasket. I took it back to the Honda
three years ago, my driving habits changed, dealer and showed them the receipt for fixing
and I started driving the car four to five days the leaky oil cooler lines and that the leak was
a week on a 120-mile highway commute to still there. They agreed the transmission case
work. At 80,000 miles, a local quick oil change gasket was now leaking, and recommended

replacing it with a rebuilt transmission at
a cost of $5,700. After giving the service
manager a harsh talking to, I took it to a
reputable repair shop in my area and they
found the same leak and quoted about $2,000
to fix. I don’t want to spend that much money
to repair the leak, so I have been driving it for
the past two years adding transmission fluid
every time I fill it with gas. But this is really
getting old. Is there an additive I can put in
the oil to stop or slow the leak? Or should I
just trade it in? — Mike

I know you don’t want to spend $2,000, but
you should compare that with what another
car will cost you. Ask a mechanic you trust to
check out the whole car for you, as if you were
considering buying it now. Have him tell you
what else is worn out and looks likely to fail
soon. If the car is in pretty good shape, other
than the transmission gasket, then consider
fixing it. Let’s say you get another two or three
years out of the car for $2,000. That’s less than
$100 a month, which is almost certainly less
than even a used car payment. Or, if you’re
There’s no additive that will stop the gasket lucky, your mechanic will give you a long list
from leaking, except gasoline, Mike. And of stuff that’s broken, and make your decision
you’d need to pour that all over the car and easy. Either way, get the facts first, Mike.
light a match. So if you want to keep the car,
you have two choices. You can either keep
Got a question about cars? Write to Ray in care
adding transmission fluid at every fill-up,
King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL
or you can fix it. And if you decide to keep
or email by visiting the Car Talk website at
driving it with the leak, consider relocating
to an area with lots of dirt roads, where the
residents will appreciate your personal “dust © 2020 by Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman
reduction” program.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.