Red Fluid Leak - Transmission or Power Steering? | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Red Fluid Leak - Transmission or Power Steering?


April 21, 2018
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City, State
Washington, DC
Year, Model & Trim Level
2006 XLT V6 4x4
I have an 06 XLT, 4.0 4x4 with 140,000 miles. I noticed a small leak after my drive from Philly to DC at the front of the vehicle when unpacking. There's a red fluid slow-dripping from a pipe connected to the radiator. Has anyone else encountered a leak here before? I'm not familiar with where that hose runs to. My understanding is red fluid usually means power steering or transmission. The transmission was replaced at 115,000 in May 2018 fwiw.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated, I intend to replace it myself if it's not too an advanced job.

Thanks for any help!


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If the leak is comming from a hose to or from the radiator its a transmission cooling line. If its dripping from higher up then its transmission fluid from the power steering system. Both systems use the same fluid.

From the picture it looks to be the transmission cooling line.

I second the line to/from the transmission.

Thanks so much for the quick replies! I can confirm it is not leaking from the top, that bottom connector/line pictured is to blame. It led me to some more research on the transmission cooling lines and I think I may have an issue with the connection valve.

A video from FordTechMakuloco says the connectors in the radiator can fail and recommended replacing it with a Dorman connector. I'm thinking I'm in a little over my head in replacing this, I take it I can not replace this part without draining the radiator and transmission? I have access to a lift and am mechanically inclined, but don't have the gumption to add transmission fluid to the sealed system.

Thanks again for the help!

I take it I can not replace this part without draining the radiator and transmission?
You don't have to drain the transmission. The hardest part is getting the quick connectors loose and yes, adding trans fluid is a little bit of a pain but is a lot easier with a lift.

To add the fluid, all you need is a few $$ adapter for 5r55 pan plug, and a hand pump from HF. You don't even have to drop the pan.