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I am in San Diego, CA and I have a 2000 Ford Windstar. For the last week it has been shifting/behaving awkwardly when I accelerate from a stop or after slowing down. It felt like the jerk you feel when riding with someone who does not drive a 5-speed well. 2 days ago it jerked more than usual. After driving 16.6miles I parked. As I parked I pulled a little past the space and backed in. When I got out and looked, there was a stream of fluid about 50ft long from my point of turning, there was a large puddle in the area past the parking space where I had pulled into, and a huge puddle under the car. When I checked the Transmission fluid, there was of course none in the van. After putting in a quart, it barely registered on the dipstick. Over the last 10 days the ABS and check engine light would come on intermittently. The O/D on off light would flash at times. I am an unemployed student looking for a job and I do not know what to do or how to find a good mechanic. Suggestions? What is wrong with the van and what should I ask the mechanic to look for?

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Amanda J. Pierce, MBA Shaneeka, Your transmission holds approximately 12 quarts of fluid, your transmission fluid should be checked with the engine running. Wipe the dipstick off with a clean lint free cloth and reinsert for an accurate reading. You may have a leak in the transmission pan.

Bogi Lateiner, Owner and Technician at 180 Degrees Automotive Hi Shaneeka - First thing, if you haven't already - fill the transmission up to the correct level before driving it any more. Put another quart or two in to start and than you'll want to check the level on the dip stick while the car is running with the transmission in park or neutral... keep adding till its at the fill mark while running. (if you do it with the engine off, it will look higher than it actually is.) Than hope that you didn't cause any permanent damage running it without fluid, and have a qualified technician take a look to see where it was leaking from! You'll want them to check for metal shavings in the transmission, where it's leaking from and if there are any lingering problems once its filled to the right level with the right fluid. The lights you were getting are likely all related to the transmission issue... however it'd be worth while to have whoever checks out the leak to also check the fault codes and make sure there isn't anything else going on. Good Luck! Bogi Lateiner

Karen Davis, Service Manager at Smith Stokes I would call the local Ford dealer and ask what they charge to diagnose your van. I would start with your major problem which sounds like the transmission issue and just explain your problem. The check engine light coming on may be from that same problem. Good luck!

Lori Johnson, Owner and Instructor at Ladies Start Your Engines Dear Shaneeka, It sounds like you may have a couple of problems. If your transmission is leaking, then you need to find out where the leak is before you can make a decision if it*s worth fixing or not. The check engine light and ABS light are a different matter. The check engine light may be coming on because of the drive-ability problem with the transmission, but the ABS is a separate issue. Check with your local Auto Zone to get a free check engine code read. At least then you will know what codes you have. As for finding a shop, you can look on Ask Patty for a female friendly dealer or search the ASE site for shops with certified technicians at Hope this helps. Lori Johnson

Suzanne Grego, Technician at City of Philadelphia Fleet Management Shaneeka, Check out the list of female friendly shops on Ask Patty. All of these lights can be related to the transmission, so you could possibly be able to have the problem solved by just fixing the leak and refilling the fluid. Unfortunately, there's no way of knowing how much labor will be involved to repair the leak without actually looking at the vehicle. It could be a simple fix or it could be very labor intensive. Hopefully, no internal damage to the transmission has been done. Do not drive this vehicle any more until you have it looked at. You may be able to avoid any further damage. Suzanne

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