Naive T-Birder says hi to the community in large number of words! :) - TCCoA Forums
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-19-2017, 03:22 AM Thread Starter
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Naive T-Birder says hi to the community in large number of words! :)

Hi guys!

I'm fresh to the MN-12 community (and to car ownership in general as it's turned out) and just wanted to briefly introduce myself. Having spent the past 5 years in East-Asia where a scooter is your best bet of going from point A to B, I have been forced to skip most of my legal driving life so far, sadly. Anyhow, I recently moved to Southern California and picked up what I thought to be a fun and decent 3.8 NA T-Bird to be used as a daily. I'm literally 6'11" so needed something fun and cheap that could accommodate my legs. Little did I know that although it was a one-owner car, bought from a friendly 80 year old guy it did have a few issues.... Let's just say that it's become a lot more valuable to me than anyone on Craigslist ever in the shortest amount of time, mainly since I don't have the space, tools or genuine knowledge to wrench on my own car yet. Latest fix; new balljoints to ensure I won't be 3-wheeling on the highway any time soon! Always a good thing as it seems. This youtube clip scared the shit out of me recently and that was uploaded 6 years ago!!
pretty sure mine hadn't been touched since '95.

I feel like I'm at a point now where I have a nice reliable daily driver however, and I intend to drive it for the next 2-3 years at least. "Oh mah lawd, 3.8's are trash and pop head-gaskets like nothing else!!" I hear you thinking. (I've been doing a bit of research on the forum... ) All I can say to that is that I'm blessed with not having driven too many fast cars as yet (so I have no idea what fast is), and its got plenty of lowdown torque for average LA traffic. Also, the previous owner did have the whole engine redone not long ago after having popped it himself after overheating, so there's that. It sounds smooth as anything, doesn't leak any oil and the AC blows cold.

'Ok enough with the words!!', I hear you say. What does this guy want?? I guess, If I had to come up with a few questions here they are:

1. V6 vs V8 Fuel economy: I know there's a few discussions on here about that, but let me just refresh it a little: In awful stop and go traffic, which one is better?
I couldn't tell you my MPG since my odometer is broken. Common problem I understand....

2. Any active members in the Greater LA area? I'm early 30s but I understand that a lot of the MN-12 community is retiring into Toyota Camry ownership slowly but steadily... :-(

3. How common is a leaking front transmission seal? I'm faced with a very slow leak and might need to address that sometime in the future. Some mechanics say, try the 'leak plugging additives' others say stay away from them as it might make the leak worse. Is it true that a rebuilt transmission is cheaper than a front seal job and should cost $900?? Any advice?

4. Finally, factory radio: Mine was working fine for a few months but recently gave up the ghost out of nowhere. Had my newly-discovered backyard mechanic check it out; he said it wasn't the fuses but the radio unit itself. Is that a common issue?

Ok I'll wrap it up here for now. Looking forward to any feedback.

Thanks,
Rob

p.s. not my house sadly....
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-19-2017, 08:01 AM
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Welcome aboard. I've been an LX V8 owner since January of 17'. I've learned a TON from this site about how to wrench on our cars.
For parts I'm on here a LOT
TBSC Shop - 1989 - 1998 Thunderbird, Cougar, and Mark VIII Hard to find New and Used Parts or rockauto.com

I'd put in a new head unit and skip the factory radio. It's a single DIN and all you'll need are two adapter plugs to wire to the new HU which will then just plug into the factory plugs...easy. Tranny's..I've had mine rebuilt, so I'm no good on leaks.

I drive a lot of highway, best so far is 24 mpg. But on my normal 40 city 60 highway I'm about 20 mpg average. I think I'll swap out my water pump as in hot weather with the A/C on the temp creeps up to 3/4th's hot.. I do read that the OEM temp gauge is crap though... Plus it's a 24 year old part, I'm sure there's some wear... that and the smog pump.

Again, welcome to the site!
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-19-2017, 12:26 PM
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I think for stop and go traffic v6 vs v8 will be a wash. The V6 is somewhat underpowered for our cars, and thus has to put more work into getting the car up and moving. On the highway it may do better, but bone stock these cars are generally in the 25-30mpg club with good alignment, stock tire size, proper inflation, and good maintenance (hubs don't drag, brakes don't drag, etc). Best I've gotten was 27mpg out of a 1997 4.6 with 3.27 gears and averaging 75mph.

Not sure about the transmission seal. May need a rebuild/replacement. Could also be one of the cooler lines leaking.

97 Thunderbird LX (The GT Bird)
2003 Explorer WAP block with Modular Head Shop "street ported" heads and Stage 2 PI NA cams, 75mm Accufab throttle body, C&L upper intake plenum, Kooks 1.75" primary/3" collector headers, 2.5" full exhaust with mid mount Magnaflow dual in/out muffler, 24lb/hr injectors, 80mm MAF, Tuning from Don @ www.lasotaracing.com, CAI that feeds from fenderwell. Jmod, 3.73:1 TL in Mark VIII carrier, Mark VIII aluminum LCAs, 93 Mark VIII driveshaft, PBR brakes (soon to be Cobras), 18x9 wheels with 35mm offset, 255/40/ZR18 Tires, Front and Rear strut/shock bracing, GR-2 shocks, Eibach 1.5" springs, 1989 SC front and rear sway bars.
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-19-2017, 01:23 PM
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Welcome! Clean looking Tbird, that color blue looks really nice

96 Cougar Sport - T45 Swapped
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-19-2017, 02:29 PM
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Wow that's a clean bird. Good looking car, I've always liked that Blue, it's my second choice color.

Mods? Yea, I got mods ...
Air silencer delete, warp drive, dilithium crystals, flux capacitor, Slingshot Rubber band power adder, Moonshine & Gas, Leaf Blower Supercharger, Hamster Wheel & Hamster, Energizer Bunny generating 1.21 gigawatts, Mr. FusionŽ Home Energy Reactor, hover conversion and a sextant celestial navigation system (The original GPS)
Best 1/4: 1,320 nanoseconds @ 670,616,629.2 miles per hour

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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-20-2017, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks a lot for the warm welcome and useful feedback guys! I guess I'll be looking at a new head unit and perhaps in the long run a new transmission replacement.... I guess I'll have to be looking at slightly below 20mpg figures because LA traffic. Also, yes, I'm pretty happy with the color although there are quite a few paint imperfections up close...

Another question; I just had the ball joints redone. Got the car back from the mechanic the other day, so I thought I'd take it for a spin yesterday and the steering was feeling a little loose. Then, as I'm driving down the road the steering wheel starts turning to the left a little as the car keeps driving straight ahead. So I pulled over at a gas station and noticed the left wheel and right wheel pointing markedly outward from one another.

My mechanic was going to come back in two weeks to finish the alignment job after he said the ball joints need time to 'settle' themselves. Does anyone know how that works?
Anyway, I sent my mechanic some pictures of the -in my mind- rather extreme toe-out and he immediately said he'd come over to take a look today.

Is it normal to have weird toe-in or out and have a somewhat loose feeling steering wheel after a ball joint job? How long does it take for ball joints to settle usually?

Last edited by roborated; 07-20-2017 at 04:06 PM.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-20-2017, 05:55 PM
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Never heard of ball joints settling in. He should have done the alignment right away.

Joe
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It's not a 97 Sport, it just looks like one!

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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-21-2017, 07:22 AM
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Car looks sharp, post some more pics!

Al

97 T-Bird LX 4.6 - 80k miles
94 Supra TT Auto - street/strip car
04 CVPI- Brenda's car - 76k miles
Previous Fords:
95 T-Bird LX 4.6 - fully optioned, owned 15 years, 220k miles
96 Cougar XR-7 4.6- Brenda's car, owned 11 years, 187k miles
88 T-Bird 3.8 - first T-Bird, owned 5 years, 206k miles
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-22-2017, 12:11 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks all, for the kind words! Yeah, I wasn't sure about the ball joint settling thing either. I did pay him for the alignment.... But in his defense, he did come right out right away when I told him about it, took it back to his shop, fixed the steering issue and dropped it off the same day. Turns out one of the tie rod ends needed adjusting, or perhaps hadn't been tightened properly in the first place (?). Not sure which it was although I'm a natural born cynic...

Anyways, I drove it around today and it feels tight as a drum now. That makes me a happy camper!

I threw a few pics in with this message on Al's request. As you can see it's got a few scuffs on the front bumper which I plan on addressing eventually. For now, I'm more than happy with nice daily driver that seems to have become quite rare in recent years judging from SoCal traffic!

How many of you use your Bird as a primary daily?

ps apologies for the insulting tire wax in the first pic, took it to a car wash and it came back like that...
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-22-2017, 12:27 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcm51 View Post
Big welcome from north Florida, I agree on that need for an alignment, there you'll find out what shape your inner and outer tie rod ends are in, I did'nt catch how many miles are on this car, I'm a '95 V8 owner, bought it new, I too have a front seal leak on the tranny, does'nt leak enough to worry about, I never have to add any between my tranny services, which for me is 20k max (hot roads, no cooler)......on that MPG, "IF" my emissions was working, (plugged EGR line) she'll knock down 30 mpg on these flat/straight roads here and 20+ in town (4 light town).....not a big radio man but yes consider swapping out, easy to do.......hope any of this helps out, enjoy that bird, keep us up to date...........
When I bought it, I thought the mileage was pretty good at 117k miles on the odometer. However, this was before I found the odometer to be broken. Checked the Carfax only after the fact and it's actually had this mileage for the past 4-5 years.
On the other hand, it has had extensive engine work done not too long ago and sounds smooth. Also, the guy I bought it off was literally living in a senior housing community and barely drove anymore in general. If I had to guess maybe another 20-30k miles was put on in the meantime.

Let's just say I learned a few car buying lessons the hard way in recent months...

Anyways, good to hear I'm not the only one with a leaking front tranny seal. I think I'm in a similar situation with a very slow leak.
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-22-2017, 04:20 AM
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The gears in the odometer can be fixed if you're up for the task!

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It's not a 97 Sport, it just looks like one!

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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-24-2017, 07:45 AM
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The V6 T-Bird gets 1-2 MPG better than the V8, but it doesn't climb hills nearly as well on the freeway.

I used to get 23-24 city, and 30-31 hwy in my 88 V6 T-Bird. My 95 V8 T-Bird got 21-22 city and 29-30 hwy. The city driving included driving at hwy speeds a little. This was before E10.

Now my 97 gets like 19/25 tops. The 94-95's were the gas mileage kings as far as the V8 Birds go.

Al

97 T-Bird LX 4.6 - 80k miles
94 Supra TT Auto - street/strip car
04 CVPI- Brenda's car - 76k miles
Previous Fords:
95 T-Bird LX 4.6 - fully optioned, owned 15 years, 220k miles
96 Cougar XR-7 4.6- Brenda's car, owned 11 years, 187k miles
88 T-Bird 3.8 - first T-Bird, owned 5 years, 206k miles
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-24-2017, 07:54 PM Thread Starter
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@ T6 Rocket: 1-2 MPG better... I'll take it!
@mcm51 : Honestly, the past 4 months I've lived here I have seen less than 10 MN-12s around. Most are in pretty bad shape visually at least with clearcoat peeled etc. I see what you're saying with the driving lamps. They do look cool that way I agree. I don't think I'll ever really be brave enough to do my own wiring though and I'm on a bit of a budget so perhaps half a year-1 year down the line if it's still running good as ever I'll consider having that done.
@Rodeo Joe , I read about the odometer fix, there is a pretty detailed explanation on the super coupe forum I noticed. It looks doable but I'd just be scared of messing up the dash when trying to disassemble it. Wouldn't it have fragile plastic clips that could break?

One more question for you guys; How easy is it to take the front bumper off? Again, I'm a bit reluctant as I don't want to break any plastic clips or anything like that. Is there a how-to explanation available anywhere? I'm considering to touch up the paint scuffs myself and don't really have a driveway or similar space to comfortably work on my car.

Thanks!
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-25-2017, 07:43 AM
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The gauges are pretty easy to take out. The clips in the bottom of the dash are metal. Get a Haynes manual.

The bumper cover is not particularly easy for a novice to take off - have to remove the headlights to find the hidden bolts, and drill out some rivets, and find replacement "anchors" for the re-install. Plus, once you remove it from it's structure, it is not very "stable". You will need some specialized tools, and a 9mm socket for the headlights.

That's a lot of unnecessary work for some minor touch-ups, I would just touch it up on the car. Work on it in a Walmart parking lot or something. While on that subject, where were you going to get this touch-up paint?

Al

97 T-Bird LX 4.6 - 80k miles
94 Supra TT Auto - street/strip car
04 CVPI- Brenda's car - 76k miles
Previous Fords:
95 T-Bird LX 4.6 - fully optioned, owned 15 years, 220k miles
96 Cougar XR-7 4.6- Brenda's car, owned 11 years, 187k miles
88 T-Bird 3.8 - first T-Bird, owned 5 years, 206k miles
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-26-2017, 10:36 AM
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The first year of ownership I'd concentrate on replacing any fluids you can't verify have been done recently, while preparing$$$ to make repairs on your old car. First would be engine oil and second coolant (to delay having to change out the heater core). Then there's brake fluid and transmission service.

As far as emissions go I used to go buy a can of something called "Emissions Test Pass" or other for the first try at passing. That usually worked in Seattle and Spokane many years ago but it was not with your engine type.

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post #16 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 01:51 AM Thread Starter
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Apologies for the late response guys! Things have been a little crazy between working/studying and preparing for exams at the same time... And thank you for the encouragement!

@T6Rocket Not sure where I would be getting the paint. Autozone maybe if they have it? I know it's Royal Blue, but let me know if you have any suggestions. As you can see on the picture it's got a pretty serious scuff on the right bumper corner so it would probably need more than a simple touch up. I found this article on Jalopnik talking about refreshing the paint in a similar situation which I hope to be able to use: deadspin-quote-carrot-aligned-w-bgr-2<\/title><\/svg>')}.f_branding_on.blog-group-deadspin .editor-inner.post-content .pu Please let me know if you have any advice for me. Oh yeah, and buffing out the yellow-ish headlights is another thing on my to do list!

@mcm51 It actually got smog checked right before I bought it. (Any person selling a used car in California needs to provide a recent smog-check report to the buyer, from what I understand).
@gordonm1 Thanks for the info. I hope I won't be needing smog-test cheating spray in I think about 2 years, when it's up for testing again...

Regarding my radio issue: I had my mechanic check the fuses, but he said that wasn't the problem. To recap, my radio stopped about 2 months ago now. Although the lights behind the radio controls still light up, there is just no sound at all. A recent development is that when using my indicator any which way this one-off knocking sound has started coming from the speakers. I'm thinking it could be some sort of short circuit in the wiring somewhere? Should the indicators and speakers be connected in any way at all? I'm assuming the indicator sound isn't actually coming from the speakers in the T-Bird. I plan on removing the head unit to see if there's any loose connections/wires behind it, but that still wouldn't explain the indicator link.... Any thoughts? Thanks again!
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post #17 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-02-2017, 07:19 AM
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A good paint supply store might be able to get the color - but it might be in a form that you need your own sprayer.

Al

97 T-Bird LX 4.6 - 80k miles
94 Supra TT Auto - street/strip car
04 CVPI- Brenda's car - 76k miles
Previous Fords:
95 T-Bird LX 4.6 - fully optioned, owned 15 years, 220k miles
96 Cougar XR-7 4.6- Brenda's car, owned 11 years, 187k miles
88 T-Bird 3.8 - first T-Bird, owned 5 years, 206k miles
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post #18 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-05-2017, 04:47 AM
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Rob,

I've used these folks before, check them out.

Automotive Touchup Paint

Joe

It's not a 97 Sport, it just looks like one!

Mass. TCCoAers, Send me your info!

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post #19 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-05-2017, 08:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodeo Joe View Post
Rob,

I've used these folks before, check them out.

Automotive Touchup Paint

Joe

X2 great product and matched to a T

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post #20 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-07-2017, 01:35 AM Thread Starter
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@Rodeo Joe @Boston-Bull @T6Rocket Thanks for the paint suggestions!

Do you think I need some sort of primer or adhesive promoter for the plastic bumper? It doesn't seem badly scratched but it is down to the bare plastic. I'd prefer to keep it on the cheap... not really expecting a showroom finish by any means but I wouldn't want all my work to start flaking off in about 2 months either....
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post #21 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-07-2017, 10:06 AM
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Painters use a flex additive when painting a bumper. For a small spot, you shouldn't need it.

Al

97 T-Bird LX 4.6 - 80k miles
94 Supra TT Auto - street/strip car
04 CVPI- Brenda's car - 76k miles
Previous Fords:
95 T-Bird LX 4.6 - fully optioned, owned 15 years, 220k miles
96 Cougar XR-7 4.6- Brenda's car, owned 11 years, 187k miles
88 T-Bird 3.8 - first T-Bird, owned 5 years, 206k miles
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post #22 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-16-2017, 03:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roborated View Post
Hi guys!

I'm fresh to the MN-12 community (and to car ownership in general as it's turned out) and just wanted to briefly introduce myself. Having spent the past 5 years in East-Asia where a scooter is your best bet of going from point A to B, I have been forced to skip most of my legal driving life so far, sadly. Anyhow, I recently moved to Southern California and picked up what I thought to be a fun and decent 3.8 NA T-Bird to be used as a daily. I'm literally 6'11" so needed something fun and cheap that could accommodate my legs. Little did I know that although it was a one-owner car, bought from a friendly 80 year old guy it did have a few issues.... Let's just say that it's become a lot more valuable to me than anyone on Craigslist ever in the shortest amount of time, mainly since I don't have the space, tools or genuine knowledge to wrench on my own car yet. Latest fix; new balljoints to ensure I won't be 3-wheeling on the highway any time soon! Always a good thing as it seems. This youtube clip scared the shit out of me recently and that was uploaded 6 years ago!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3_aJxyGY4I pretty sure mine hadn't been touched since '95.

I feel like I'm at a point now where I have a nice reliable daily driver however, and I intend to drive it for the next 2-3 years at least. "Oh mah lawd, 3.8's are trash and pop head-gaskets like nothing else!!" I hear you thinking. (I've been doing a bit of research on the forum... ) All I can say to that is that I'm blessed with not having driven too many fast cars as yet (so I have no idea what fast is), and its got plenty of lowdown torque for average LA traffic. Also, the previous owner did have the whole engine redone not long ago after having popped it himself after overheating, so there's that. It sounds smooth as anything, doesn't leak any oil and the AC blows cold.

'Ok enough with the words!!', I hear you say. What does this guy want?? I guess, If I had to come up with a few questions here they are:

1. V6 vs V8 Fuel economy: I know there's a few discussions on here about that, but let me just refresh it a little: In awful stop and go traffic, which one is better?
I couldn't tell you my MPG since my odometer is broken. Common problem I understand....

2. Any active members in the Greater LA area? I'm early 30s but I understand that a lot of the MN-12 community is retiring into Toyota Camry ownership slowly but steadily... :-(

3. How common is a leaking front transmission seal? I'm faced with a very slow leak and might need to address that sometime in the future. Some mechanics say, try the 'leak plugging additives' others say stay away from them as it might make the leak worse. Is it true that a rebuilt transmission is cheaper than a front seal job and should cost $900?? Any advice?

4. Finally, factory radio: Mine was working fine for a few months but recently gave up the ghost out of nowhere. Had my newly-discovered backyard mechanic check it out; he said it wasn't the fuses but the radio unit itself. Is that a common issue?

Ok I'll wrap it up here for now. Looking forward to any feedback.

Thanks,
Rob

p.s. not my house sadly....

sadly a $4 front seal will be expensive to replace . shop rate per hour multiplied by ten hours. plus all the superfluous charges the transmission stop leak will swell the seal and stop the leak. it will swell every seal in the transmission.

it is an old car ,if where you park it doesn't mind the leak ,keep it topped up. put up with it as long as you can, if it uses a bottle of tranny fluid a weak try the stop leak what do you have to loose.


in the end it is your decision. I wouldn't change the tranny till it stopped moving

drive fast!
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