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Transmission Cooler Failure: Overhaul Required

By Junior Damato, October 22nd, 2016

strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2005 Nissan Pathfinder that is currently in a transmission shop after I noticed an intermittent change in the downshifting, followed by a hesitation when accelerating. I was told the Pathfinder had a P1754 error code. Upon disassembling the transmission, I was told coolant was leaking into the transmission, which contaminated the internal parts. The valve body was reconditioned and an external transmission cooler was installed. Also replaced was the torque converter, band, direct drum and a variety of transmission gears. Then while braking to stop I could feel the hard downshifting once again and the error code of P1754 returned. The shop installed a brand new valve body and they are now waiting for a programmer to re-program the unit. My Pathfinder is in excellent condition and only has 88,000 miles. Help! Jim

Manufacturer photo: 2005 Nissan Pathfinder
Manufacturer photo: 2005 Nissan Pathfinder

strong>Dear Jim: Failing radiator transmission coolers are very common on a lot of these older Nissan vehicles. The problem is when the transmission cooler (which is a separate part from the radiator) ruptures, engine coolant mixes with the transmission fluid -- as does the transmission fluid mix with the coolant -- giving both a milky color. In most cases the transmission needs a complete overhaul. The radiator needs replacement, the cooling system needs a complete chemical flush, as well as a heater hose and thermostat replacement. This is a very common failure.

strong>Dear Doctor: My 2011 Ram 1500 pickup truck with the 5.7-liter Hemi engine has over 61,000 miles. I change the oil every 3,000 miles -- it's so clean you could eat your lunch off the motor. Without warning something let go on it (on the top end in more than one place). I'm still waiting for a dealer diagnosis of what occurred. It took me three years to find this truck and I did my research, but learned nothing bad about the engine. Your thoughts please. Heartbroken. Bob

strong>Dear Bob: The new version Hemi has a great track record with no known major issues. However, without opening up the engine on your 2011 vehicle, I can only speculate on what broke and am in no position to know for certain. I sincerely hope a fix is in the works for your truck.

strong>Dear Doctor: I'm interested in the new Honda Accord Hybrid sedan. Have you test-driven this car yet? What is your opinion? Lynn

strong>Dear Lynn: I've never been a fan of hybrid vehicles, based on the extra MSRP price over the conventional engine and length of time to recoup the investment in a hybrid vehicle. But I did have the opportunity to drive a 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder mated to a CVT transmission. The engine, combined with an electric motor, gives this Accord the acceleration performance of a powerful V-8. Honda has put a great package together in a hybrid sedan that is fun to drive while getting about 50 mpg. Pricing starts at under $30,000.

strong>Dear Doctor: I'm looking at the 2016 Audi TT roadster as a weekend car. Do you think it would be good as a four-season toy car, or is it just a summer car? Steve

strong>Dear Steve: I remember the previous TT version as being small and cramped, with my knee always banging up against the console. But the new 2016 TT Quattro has grown into a real nice four-season sports car with a good size trunk. The entrance and exit are low; the doors are heavy, but well-balanced. The 2.0-liter turbo engine is rated at 220 horsepower, but feels more like 270. The automatic six-speed transmission can be shifted manually. The suspension is not harsh like the older TT models. This is a very enjoyable car on both city and highway driving with top up or down. The top is fabric and very well insulated for both wind noise at highway speeds and temperature.

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