Transfer Case/Tranny Leak
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Thread: Transfer Case/Tranny Leak

  1. #1
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    Transfer Case/Tranny Leak

    On my 2006 Sienna (63K miles), I [thought I] had a bad oil leak in the rear of the engine. Symptoms were a burnt oil smell in the cabin, as well as smoke coming from the back of the engine compartment. I removed the engine cover to look for evidence of where a leak could be coming from, but didn't see anything.

    I searched here and found the recall for the '07-'08 oil line, but that doesn't apply to my 3.3L engine. Without having seen the rear of the engine, I figured it must be the rear valve cover leaking onto the exhaust manifold.

    The van is used for around town errands but also for several long (200+ mile) trips per year. Oil is changed every 4K miles or so.

    I figured I would remove the windshield cowl and tear into the problem once the weather turned milder. Since the oil level was not significantly decreasing, I put off having the dealer fix it right away. My wife's been driving the van for the past several weeks, and the oil level has not dropped significantly.

    Stranger yet, the oil leak symptoms (smoke and burning smell) have disappeared. Have I been saved by Toyota engine sludge filling the leaking spot? Or should I take the engine compartment apart just to see what's going on?

    [edited to show diagnosis and resolution of problem, title changed]

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  3. #2
    jc
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    Re: Engine Oil Leak Disappears?

    Do you always do your own oil changes? I'm wondering if you had some oil spilled on the block or exhaust and that was what you were smelling.

    I would keep an eye on it and see if the level is really going down.

    Regards, JC.
    1998 Sienna XLE Silver Spruce Metallic
    Air Lift 1000's
    Bridgestone Ecopia Summer/Bridgestone Blizzaks Winter
    262,xxx kms

  4. #3
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    Re: Engine Oil Leak Disappears?

    I have been doing my own changes, but it's not the oil that's leaking, as it turns out. I put the car up on jack stands to change the oil, and immediately noticed that the fluid leaking was ATF, from the passenger side driveshaft seal. That passes right above the exhaust manifold, which was covered in fluid. So now it's an entirely different issue. Luckily it's easy to see, so hopefully should be easy to fix.

    What's the standard drivetrain warranty? 60,000 or 72,000 miles?


  5. #4
    jc
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    Re: Engine Oil Leak Disappears?

    Quote Originally Posted by spencercat
    What's the standard drivetrain warranty? 60,000 or 72,000 miles?
    Spencercat,

    I'm not sure about the warranty. I think it's 60,000. I bought my 98 in 2006 well past the warranty period.

    Regards, JC.
    1998 Sienna XLE Silver Spruce Metallic
    Air Lift 1000's
    Bridgestone Ecopia Summer/Bridgestone Blizzaks Winter
    262,xxx kms

  6. #5
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    Re: Engine Oil Leak Disappears?

    I was thinking the standard warranty is 3yr/36,000 miles
    2008 Sienna LE 2WD Blue Mirage
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  7. #6
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    Re: Engine Oil Leak Disappears?

    Quote Originally Posted by spencercat
    I have been doing my own changes, but it's not the oil that's leaking, as it turns out. I put the car up on jack stands to change the oil, and immediately noticed that the fluid leaking was ATF, from the passenger side driveshaft seal. That passes right above the exhaust manifold, which was covered in fluid. So now it's an entirely different issue. Luckily it's easy to see, so hopefully should be easy to fix.

    What's the standard drivetrain warranty? 60,000 or 72,000 miles?
    IIRC, powertrain warranty is 5 years/60k miles.
    Even if you've passed 60k miles, call Toyota. Many manufacturers will honor warranties even if the vehicle is past the warranty miles.
    2006 LE 8 Salsa Red
    87,xxx miles
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  8. #7
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    Re: Engine Oil Leak Disappears?

    Dealer wants $1200 to repair what's outlined in TSB-0138-10. Frankly given the amount of work involved I'm surprised they didn't quote more.

    I called Toyota and am waiting their response whether they will pay for the repair.

  9. #8
    jc
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    Re: Engine Oil Leak Disappears?

    How much fluid is leaking from the Tranny? $1200 buys a lot of Type IV fluid. Maybe you can add some tranny stop leak and see if that reduces leaking.

    Did the dealer say what is the actual issue is?

    If it were up to me, I'd just keep an eye on it and not get it fixed for now. How much longer are you going to keep the Van?

    Regards, JC.
    1998 Sienna XLE Silver Spruce Metallic
    Air Lift 1000's
    Bridgestone Ecopia Summer/Bridgestone Blizzaks Winter
    262,xxx kms

  10. #9
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    Re: Engine Oil Leak Disappears?

    spencercat,

    The leak may be gone now but it may come back as soon as it gets colder again. I used to have a leaky transmission solenoid pack that would only leak when it was cold. My guess is the colder temperatures allow more contraction of the metal or rubber seals which lets it leak through. Hopefully you can convince Toyota that this leak didn't just develop overnight and that it started within the warranty period.

  11. #10
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    Re: Engine Oil Leak Disappears?

    JC, others, thanks for your comments. From what I understand reading the TSB as well as other info on the web, this leak can become catastrophic (i.e., it can dump all your fluid fairly suddenly). Others have lost the transfer case and tranny all at once from this problem. So the problem could go from a $1200 one to a $3000 one.

    In my case, it leaks onto the exhaust manifold making for smoke and smell. I use the car often for long trips, so the possible damage caused by losing the fluid means it's something that needs to get taken care of.

    Good news is that Toyota has stepped up and agreed to reimburse for the full service amount, so I'll be scheduling an appointment on Monday! 8)

  12. #11
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    Re: Transfer Case/Tranny Leak

    Thanks for this great post. A week ago, I bought a 2006 Sienna AWD Limited. I got a 3 month 3000 mile powertrain warranty. Two days ago, I crawled underneath it to find whatever was leaking onto the exhaust that smelled likel burning gear oil. It is clearly leaking from the transfer case. Yesterday, I took it back to the dealer and told them about the leak and the TSB.

    I am looking forward to the dealer handling this repair at its cost and getting our minivan back.

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