Automatic transmission occasional major leak driving me nuts! Help! on 1996 Ford Ranger

I have a 1996 Ford Ranger with an automatic transmission. Occasionally I have a MAJOR tranny fluid leak. I figured it may be from overheating. I put in a new radiator, flushed the cooling lines to the tranny, and flushed and changed the tranny fluid. That worked fine...until today. On the way home from work I saw smoke in the rear view mirror, pulled over, and tranny fluid was leaking. It looked like from between the motor and tranny (not blow back through the dip stick). If it was a seal wouldn't it do this all the time? This is driving me nuts! One day I drive over 100 miles and no problem. Today I drive 35 miles and the dreaded fluid leak. Has anyone else encountered this? Any advise? Please help!

by in Monroe, GA on March 14, 2011
2 answers 2 comments
ANSWER by on March 14, 2011
I suspect the transmission has a breather that is clogged up or blocked, hopefully it has not blown a seal out due to pressure build up. Hopefully Dave or Roy see this question they are both more familiar with Ford.
COMMENT by on March 17, 2011
Patrick, thank you for the response and also for soliciting advice from Dave/Roy.
ANSWER by on March 14, 2011
Not an overwhelmingly common issue with this 4R44E automatic transmission. These units are pretty drama-free, with the exception of the odd shift solenoid or processor issue. It does indeed sound like your transmission is overheating. The valve body of your transmission has a thermostat in it that can clog or keep from opening - just like your cooling system. When this happens, overheating can occur. Typically, overheating pushes transmisson fluid out the front pump seal. Some folks pull the transmission, replace the front pump and seal, and try to fix it that way. I see no advantage to that. You will need to have a qualified transmission technician familiar with this unit carry out appropriate testing to determine if line pressures are within specification. Chances are, the problems will all narrow down to a valve body/main control issue. Then, you will have to decide if the internal components have sustained any damage from the overheating, and possibly invest in a rebuild/replacement with a rebuilt unit. Good luck!
COMMENT by on March 17, 2011
Dave, thank you big time for the helpful advise!

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