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2003 V8 4WD leaking transmission fluid after towed


Marble68

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This is my favorite car I’ve ever owned.

Yesterday, the starter went out (I think) because it wouldn’t crank or anything. (Tried jumping, swapping relays, no luck)

So I called AAA to have them tow it to my house at lunch today, where I could jack it up and replace / troubleshoot the starter.

I got home, jacked it up, and there’s transmission fluid actively dripping and what looks like fluid EVERYWHERE on the underside the car.

When AAA towed it, they lifted the rear, put it in neutral, used the seatbelt to secure the steering wheel, and everything seemed ok.

Was this done wrong? Could the towing just have stressed it out and failed a weak component? Might the angle just have leaked it onto the axle and that’s why it’s everywhere and still dripping?

Any advice is most appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Mbrooks420

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Used the seatbelt? I’m guessing that’s never a legitimate way to secure the steering.

They damaged your Explorer. It’s only recommended to be towed on a tilt bed, or wheel lift WITH dollies.

From the 2003 manual:

5FDCE4AD-D351-4588-BD28-301F9BBC14E5.jpeg


They should know this, and have sent the appropriate equipment. Call immediately and inform them your vehicle is damaged. Don’t drive it.
 


koda2000

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OP said the rear wheels were lifted off the ground when it was towed. If this is a 2WD/RWD vehicle that should have been okay, though I'd never have a vehicle towed with anything other than a flatbed. Even then, if the front wheels were turned w/out the engine running you can expect to get air in the power steering. IDK why trans fluid should have pissed out with the rear wheels off ground during the tow (unless this is a 4WD/AWD vehicle). For that matter, why was it towed with the trans in neutral? That should have not been necessary, but again, if it's a 2WD vehicle it should not have mattered.
 


Mbrooks420

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OP said the rear wheels were lifted off the ground when it was towed. If this is a 2WD/RWD vehicle that should have been okay, though I'd never have a vehicle towed with anything other than a flatbed. Even then, if the front wheels were turned w/out the engine running you can expect to get air in the power steering. IDK why trans fluid should have pissed out with the rear wheels off ground during the tow (unless this is a 4WD/AWD vehicle). For that matter, why was it towed with the trans in neutral? That should have not been necessary, but again, if it's a 2WD vehicle it should not have mattered.
Title says 4wd.
 


koda2000

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Title says 4wd.
Yeah, I just noticed that. Didn't see it mentioned in the post. That's a different story. AAA is responsible for any damage caused then.
 


Mbrooks420

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Once I saw the seatbelt come in to play, I’d have sent them packing.
 


Marble68

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Thanks guys.

Called AAA, they told me to call the towing company.

Called them and they said “there’s an override and it’s ok.” I quoted them the owners manual, I still have it.

Called a dealership and their mechanic said to go by the manual, it should be on a flatbed.

Now the towing company is sending someone to come look at it.

Frustrating.
 


Mbrooks420

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I’d love to know how they activated this “override” and why it’s not mentioned in the book.
 


koda2000

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I suppose it's possible that the trans fluid just got pumped out while it was being towed, but I have nothing to base this on. Maybe the trans could just be refilled and the bottom of the vehicle steam cleaned. For your sake I hope that's the case, but whatever needs to be done it's up to the towing company to set it right. You'll probably need to take them to court to get them to pay out though. Towing companies hate to admit any blame or to pay up when they damage something. If it were me I'd flatbed it to Ford to have it assessed/repaired and keep all the receipts for court.
 


Marble68

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I can’t afford to take it to a dealership and pay that, unfortunately. If I had the money I’d do that.

AAA supervisor came out and said they’d take it to their mechanic on Monday and fix it.

He told me to go ahead and replace the starter but I’m reluctant to do anything to it.

He said they’d need to be able to start it to test it.

I put the starter I bought in the car, and told them I’d pay their mechanic to replace it.

I recorded video to show how all the fluid is brand new, there’s no dirt or anything on the car anywhere where this stuff is. And since it won’t start, I obviously haven’t driven it.

The ford dealership was reluctant to tell me they messed it up, just kept saying “go by the manual.”

The manual says ford supplies towing manuals to tow truck companies. Has anyone ever seen one of those? I’d be interested to see what it says about the car.
 


Mbrooks420

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I’m sure it says dollies, or flat bed. In your case they should have lifted the front, and used the dollies on the rear.
 


koda2000

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Well, I wish you the best of luck. Let us know what AAA has to say.
 


974X4BLACKSPORT

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I bet the transfer case is split in half.
 


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