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SMELL Transmission Problem Odors and What They Mean

My Automatic TransmissionTransmission Fluid and Other Leaks
burning smell while drive down the road or after stopping when the car is still hot is most likely caused by a fluid leaking onto a hot exhaust pipe or other hot surface.  The leak could be engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid or brake fluid.  The leak could also be coolant but the smell is much different than a fluid leak.  You can small overheated brakes also, but again, the smell is much different from burning fluid.

Since it may be difficult and time-consuming to determine the source of a fluid leak, the best approach is to check all your fluid levels at your earliest opportunity and top off any that are low.  This will get you by temporarily until you have a chance to locate and repair the leak.

If you find that your transmission fluid is low, you must continue to check it daily until the leak is repaired.  Operating your car with low transmission fluid will cause serious internal transmission damage.   

WARNING: Also, be advised that fluid leaking onto hot exhaust pipes is the number one cause of vehicles fires.  Therefore, fixing a fluid leak should be a priority item on your "to-do" list.

My Automatic TransmissionOxidized "Burnt" Transmission Fluid

When the transmission overheats the transmission fluid becomes oxidized.  Oxidized fluid has a very distinct burnt odor that you can only smell when checking the transmission fluid level and condition.  Simply placing the tip of the transmission dip stick near your nostrils is all it takes to check for oxidation. 

WARNING: A automatic transmission running on oxidized transmission fluid will suffer catastrophic damage fairly quickly.  Check fluid condition each time you check the fluid level.  If the fluid smells burnt, replace it immediately with fresh fluid.

How to properly check transmission fluid level and condition
Learn how quickly excessive heat can ruin a transmission

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