2018 Expedition Transmission overfilled by Dealer and resulting issues

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st381183

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In March 13, 2023 I took my 2018 Expedition XLT Max to the dealership for transmission filter and fluid change at 45633 miles. Early I know but I don't have confidence in lifetime fluids and I want to keep this truck in my life for many years. I noticed 4 drops of tranny fluid on the garage floor in May over the course of a few days and took it back in to the same dealership to inspect on 6/3/26 at 47815 miles. I advise them I will be traveling through Arizona in June and the drips have me concerned. The dealership takes the Expy for a day and they assure me everything is ok and the drips of tranny fluid was residue from initial service, they clean it up, and they write on the follow up invoice, "....VERIFIED TRANSMISSION FLUID LEVEL IS CORRECT." (They obviously didn't because an overfilled transmission would have shot out fluid if they had actually ran the Expy to operating temps and removed the dipstick.)

Fast forward to June 26, 2023, three weeks later, 2pm-ish, the hottest day of the year in Arizona at 110 degrees plus, driving home on I-10 from Phoenix, 8 miles west of Benson, average speed 75-83mph, climbing a hill....the whole family feels transmission slip, tranny temp spikes at 253 degrees on gauge and I pull over to see my tranny hemorraging fluid. Trip back home is over and I'm stuck on the side of the road for the next 8 hours. Progressive roadside assistance can't find a tow but say they can schedule me for 9am the next day, geez thanks. I call 4 tow companies myself and they all refuse to come get us. I end up calling my nephew a 150 miles away in Phoenix and he scrounges a flatbed trailer to haul my Expedition back to Phoenix at midnight. Come the next day and take my Expy to Phoenix dealership. The Phoenix dealership put an actual tranny tech on the job and confirms on the invoice that the tranny was, "WAY OVERFILLED," which is something, as a lot was pouring out on the side of the road.

The Phoenix dealership says the vent on the tranny did its job and prevented damage to the tranny by venting out overheated, overfilled fluid. They run diagnostics, confirm no codes, tech says tranny doesn't smell burnt out and fluid is clean. They cannot recommend replacement. They also inform me my battery needs to be replaced, good to know. To the original dealers credit they acknowledge their fault in this over the phone and promise to make things right. I rent a car and got my family home and now have to make a return trip in a new rental car provided for by the original dealership, a day out of my life.

On the drive home I'm hypervigilant with gauges. Tranny stays between 208 - 219 degrees. Shifts seem to be ok. Now the engine temps go crazy changing from 210 to 217 in seconds, falling from 226 to 205, in a seconds. Engine temp gauge dipped to 198 degrees for a few seconds, super weird. I don't know if that is a symptom of a new issue, or the battery degrading, or what.... I get it home and check coolant and it was ok but added some to max level.

I am very frustrated that I took this to a dealership and paid dealership prices to have this work done incorrectly, given how critical fluid levels are and to ensure I have some sort of warranty peace of mine. So now I am going to demand the original dealership reimburse me for my expenses, I get my nephew to write up a tow invoice (he's a very good diesel mechanic and does a lot of side jobs) and I'm planning on demanding reimbursement for him to come get me and tow me home as well as bring his suburban to transport my family. Here is what I am asking for:

Tow which included 150 mile deadhead to my location, load oversized vehicle, 150 mile return tow to Phoenix, and another vehicle to get my family home: $855 which is $2.55/mile, after 5pm
First Rental Car: $115 (Not even asking for fuel reimbursement)
Wife's lost wages for a day due to having to call in last minute: $392
17 year-old son's lost wages for a day due to having to call in last minute: $60 (He was super embarassed as it was his second week on the job)
Return to Phoenix trip fuel: $54.07 (Not asking for fuel to bring the Expy home)
Refund of initial tranny service: $672.28
Tranny service in Pheonix: $412.97 (Paid by dealership already)

So in all I'm asking for $2154.97 I know the dealership is going to balk over the tow charges and lost wages but I plan on sticking to my guns. They were given two opportunities to do the job correctly, which is what I pay for when I take my vehicle to the dealership. Obviously the original tech and the tech that inspected the "leaks" when I took it in failed at checking fluid levels, which is so critical in the 10R80 transmission. The seoond tech obvioulsy didn't run to temp and check, if he had, he would have found himself covered in fluid.

Let me know what you guys think or if I'm being unreasonable in my reimbursement expectations.

Thanks for reading this long thread and Happy Independence Day!
 

99WhiteC5Coupe

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In March 13, 2023 I took my 2018 Expedition XLT Max to the dealership for transmission filter and fluid change at 45633 miles. Early I know but I don't have confidence in lifetime fluids and I want to keep this truck in my life for many years. I noticed 4 drops of tranny fluid on the garage floor in May over the course of a few days and took it back in to the same dealership to inspect on 6/3/26 at 47815 miles. I advise them I will be traveling through Arizona in June and the drips have me concerned. The dealership takes the Expy for a day and they assure me everything is ok and the drips of tranny fluid was residue from initial service, they clean it up, and they write on the follow up invoice, "....VERIFIED TRANSMISSION FLUID LEVEL IS CORRECT." (They obviously didn't because an overfilled transmission would have shot out fluid if they had actually ran the Expy to operating temps and removed the dipstick.)

Fast forward to June 26, 2023, three weeks later, 2pm-ish, the hottest day of the year in Arizona at 110 degrees plus, driving home on I-10 from Phoenix, 8 miles west of Benson, average speed 75-83mph, climbing a hill....the whole family feels transmission slip, tranny temp spikes at 253 degrees on gauge and I pull over to see my tranny hemorraging fluid. Trip back home is over and I'm stuck on the side of the road for the next 8 hours. Progressive roadside assistance can't find a tow but say they can schedule me for 9am the next day, geez thanks. I call 4 tow companies myself and they all refuse to come get us. I end up calling my nephew a 150 miles away in Phoenix and he scrounges a flatbed trailer to haul my Expedition back to Phoenix at midnight. Come the next day and take my Expy to Phoenix dealership. The Phoenix dealership put an actual tranny tech on the job and confirms on the invoice that the tranny was, "WAY OVERFILLED," which is something, as a lot was pouring out on the side of the road.

The Phoenix dealership says the vent on the tranny did its job and prevented damage to the tranny by venting out overheated, overfilled fluid. They run diagnostics, confirm no codes, tech says tranny doesn't smell burnt out and fluid is clean. They cannot recommend replacement. They also inform me my battery needs to be replaced, good to know. To the original dealers credit they acknowledge their fault in this over the phone and promise to make things right. I rent a car and got my family home and now have to make a return trip in a new rental car provided for by the original dealership, a day out of my life.

On the drive home I'm hypervigilant with gauges. Tranny stays between 208 - 219 degrees. Shifts seem to be ok. Now the engine temps go crazy changing from 210 to 217 in seconds, falling from 226 to 205, in a seconds. Engine temp gauge dipped to 198 degrees for a few seconds, super weird. I don't know if that is a symptom of a new issue, or the battery degrading, or what.... I get it home and check coolant and it was ok but added some to max level.

I am very frustrated that I took this to a dealership and paid dealership prices to have this work done incorrectly, given how critical fluid levels are and to ensure I have some sort of warranty peace of mine. So now I am going to demand the original dealership reimburse me for my expenses, I get my nephew to write up a tow invoice (he's a very good diesel mechanic and does a lot of side jobs) and I'm planning on demanding reimbursement for him to come get me and tow me home as well as bring his suburban to transport my family. Here is what I am asking for:

Tow which included 150 mile deadhead to my location, load oversized vehicle, 150 mile return tow to Phoenix, and another vehicle to get my family home: $855 which is $2.55/mile, after 5pm
First Rental Car: $115 (Not even asking for fuel reimbursement)
Wife's lost wages for a day due to having to call in last minute: $392
17 year-old son's lost wages for a day due to having to call in last minute: $60 (He was super embarassed as it was his second week on the job)
Return to Phoenix trip fuel: $54.07 (Not asking for fuel to bring the Expy home)
Refund of initial tranny service: $672.28
Tranny service in Pheonix: $412.97 (Paid by dealership already)

So in all I'm asking for $2154.97 I know the dealership is going to balk over the tow charges and lost wages but I plan on sticking to my guns. They were given two opportunities to do the job correctly, which is what I pay for when I take my vehicle to the dealership. Obviously the original tech and the tech that inspected the "leaks" when I took it in failed at checking fluid levels, which is so critical in the 10R80 transmission. The seoond tech obvioulsy didn't run to temp and check, if he had, he would have found himself covered in fluid.

Let me know what you guys think or if I'm being unreasonable in my reimbursement expectations.

Thanks for reading this long thread and Happy Independence Day!


I would send an itemized demand letter with copies of receipts to the offending dealership owner or general manager.

If you don’t get a reasonable response, I would be prepared to file for reimbursement in your county small claims court. In New Mexico, the dollar limit for claims in small claims court is $10,000 - well above what you are asking.
 
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st381183

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My thoughts too would be small claims if they fail to reimburse me. I have sent a reimbursement demand with accompaning reciepts today with a demand for reimbursement within 10 days via check. There were other incidentals that I couldn't be bothered with like my time to return to Phoenix to bring the vehicle back home or compensation for me because I am off for the summer. I hope it doesn't come to a fight in court. The biggest take away for the forum is confirm fluid level is properly done and if you find small spots of transmission fluid on the floor, it's probably from the overflow vent and indicates an overfill condition. I remember when dealerships was where you went to make sure it was done right so it was worth the extra money. Not so much anymore.
 

SyndicateZ

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Id definitely get reimbursed PLUS more for the headache. Consult with an attorney. Your family shouldn't have had to go through the traumatic experience.

Dealers and their inexperienced, incompetent "mechanics" always find a way to make a simple maintenance job a bigger problem in the long run. Ford is desperate for workers so they are hiring these guys off the streets with no experience and rely on them learning from online learning portals. All the good, multi year Technicians quit or were laid off during the Pandemic height and dealer service work cannot be trusted anymore
 

2018ExpyPlatinum

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I agree with all you're asking for. Nothing worse than breaking down, let alone from a dealer's mistake. You could mention to said dealer that 2 grand sounds high, but you are cutting he some slack. What's your time and your nephews time worth? And fortunately, you don't seem to need a new tranny. I would think a letter to Ford corporate is in order too, regardless of how things work out.
 

Bmac1955

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You trusted them to provide a service within their capibilities.......obviously it was not. Therefore you should be warranteed to be be compensated for their incompetence. The willfully charged you for their services that they rendered. They are responsible for the hardship they created to you for the failure you experienced due to thier incompetence. BTW.......Free Lifetime oil changes wouldn't cut either. That could go south relatively quickly too.
 
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st381183

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Follow up:

Dealership stood behind their service and agreed to pay everything except the refund on the initial transmission service cost of $675 stating that they are honoring the warranty, express and implied. I actually agreed with that explanation. Everything else though tow, lost salary, rental car and fuel expenses they are going to cover. The Service Manager was easy going and expressed genuine concern that this had occurred. I also shared that I hope the technicians were able to learn something from this and take extra care when dealing with transmissions and people's vehicles in general. So far, tranny seems to be fine and to be running cooler than normal which tells me that factory levels may have been wrong as well. I saw in another thread someone saying the factory transmission fluid level was 1.5 quarts low. Fingers are crossed for long term durability of the transmission and associated systems.

I am happy that the overflow vent on the transmission did its job and prevented damage to moving parts.

Thanks for everyones' input!
 
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