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Old 15-09-2018, 22:57   #1
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Can I use UV dye in transmission

Hello all,


We are trying find the source of a transmission oil leak (oil was very low and below minimum line on dipstick). I've used dye in cars before but wanted to confirm that the dye could be used in a diesel transmission.



Thanks for any help.



volvo penta 2003B


As a side question, could the leak have been caused by transmission abuse? One of our skippers confused reverse with forward during docking, realized his mistake late, and shifted to reverse without waiting for the revs to idle.
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Old 16-09-2018, 11:52   #2
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Re: Can I use UV dye in transmission

Redbeard-
The usual UV dyes are a pigment (i.e. fluoroscein powder) in a mineral oil carrier. Which is fine for use in engine oils. Alternatively, there are water-based ones for coolant systems. But in a transmission...the pigment may cause friction problems on surfaces, and if the carrier is not compatible with your transmission fluid, more problems.
So you'd need to know specifically what transmission fluid you have, and then find out if there's a compatible dye. And even them, probably do a couple of flushes afterward to try getting all the pigment out. I'd be leary of doing this unless the dye was designed to match your transmission. If the tranny maker is still in business, you might try asking them, as leak check dyes have been around for a long time and they ought to know about it.
There are a limited number of places a tranny can leak. If it is the shaft seals, and you need to remove it to replace one of those, might as well have the whole thing gone over and possibly rebuilt while it is out.
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Old 16-09-2018, 14:41   #3
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Re: Can I use UV dye in transmission

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So you'd need to know specifically what transmission fluid you have, and then find out if there's a compatible dye.

Thanks for reply.



According to our manual, the transmission requires the same oil as our engine. So that is what we have been using when changing transmission oil. That said I will do a google search on using dye with that specific transmission.
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Old 16-09-2018, 15:35   #4
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Re: Can I use UV dye in transmission

Never heard of a dye in engine oil.
Why would you need it?
I understand in refrigerants as that is a gas that leaks without leaving a trace, but an oil leak, is going to well, leak oil and any leak significant to drop oil level is going to leave one heck of a mess, unless maybe it’s going out through the cooler, which dye wouldn’t help find
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Old 16-09-2018, 15:55   #5
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Re: Can I use UV dye in transmission

Baby Powder!
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Old 16-09-2018, 16:08   #6
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Re: Can I use UV dye in transmission

No need for dye...…..use an ultraviolet light lamp/light/torch...….the oil will fluoresce green...…..wipe engine down well before use to remove any previous oil trace......the darker the engine space the better i.e no outside light......a UV torch can be cheaply sourced on Ebay etc.

UV lights are used here in Australia to find opal......these really come to life....and scorpions.....and lots of marine life too.

Also useful for refrigerant leak detection...….if refrigerant is leaking....then so is oil..... dye is used to increase visibility with or without a UV source.
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Old 16-09-2018, 16:56   #7
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Can I use UV dye in transmission

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Originally Posted by Ecos View Post
Baby Powder!


Yes, and if you think you may have a seep on a gasket like etc. use spray foot powder, it will stick. Also paper towels under the tranny.

But this is for finding small, tiny amounts, leaks big enough to drop levels ought to be impossible to not see.
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Old 16-09-2018, 17:29   #8
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Re: Can I use UV dye in transmission

Sometimes the trans front seal will leak, and then it takes a while for the bell housing to fill to point it leaks. In an old Perkins for example, that can be the starter. You could have a gallon of oil in the bell housing and not know it.
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Old 16-09-2018, 17:54   #9
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Re: Can I use UV dye in transmission

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Never heard of a dye in engine oil.
Why would you need it?
I understand in refrigerants as that is a gas that leaks without leaving a trace, but an oil leak, is going to well, leak oil and any leak significant to drop oil level is going to leave one heck of a mess, unless maybe it’s going out through the cooler, which dye wouldn’t help find

That is kind of our trouble. About a month ago, we noticed the level was very low. We filled it to maximum and have noticed no change since. Yet something caused the level to drop from the beginning of the season (when I last remember checking the level) to about a month ago. Maybe the leak is very small, maybe the transmission abuse caused a seal to temporarily give way?


We figured the dye would help as we've had a very small oil leak from our valve cover (less than .3 quart every 100 hours) since we got the boat a few years ago. Therefore, our engine always has a slight sheen (especially in the back near the transmission as our engine slopes to the rear) from the valve cover leak. We want to see if the oil near our transmission is from the transmission or from the valve cover leak.
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Old 16-09-2018, 18:12   #10
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Re: Can I use UV dye in transmission

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Sometimes the trans front seal will leak, and then it takes a while for the bell housing to fill to point it leaks. In an old Perkins for example, that can be the starter. You could have a gallon of oil in the bell housing and not know it.

Thanks. It had not occurred to me that the leak could have stayed inside the engine/transmission unit.



Does the transmission oil build up in the bell housing mix with oil in the engine or is the bell housing not lubricated? Sorry for the novice question.
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Old 16-09-2018, 18:25   #11
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Re: Can I use UV dye in transmission

Not a novice question. Some engines share the oil supply with the transmission. The Perkins can come either way so the bell housing is sealed for either style. The starter for a wet engine has an oil seal, the regular starter will flood with oil at some point and stop working.
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Old 16-09-2018, 18:55   #12
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Re: Can I use UV dye in transmission

The 2003 has a dry flywheel housing, and no gasket between the flywheel housing and the flywheel coverplate/ gearbox mounting plate. If the front transmission seal is leaking, the oil will work its way out of the housing.

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Old 16-09-2018, 20:46   #13
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Re: Can I use UV dye in transmission

Your VP MS2B gearbox is fairly simple inside. The only places I can think of to lose oil are 1. seals -the oil would go in bilge.


2. the raw water cooling coil inside-the oil would go into raw water-but I would think that raw water would force it's way into gearbox oil as rw is under pressure & oil is not. This would make gearbox oil whitish.


/ Len


https://www.google.com/search?q=volv...OO22YsnS5M3jM:




https://www.marinepartseurope.com/en...44-18192B.aspx




https://www.google.com/search?q=volv...o0MbPPsiNcY2M:
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Old 17-09-2018, 12:13   #14
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Re: Can I use UV dye in transmission

Thanks to all for the information.



I will be on the boat this Thursday and report back.
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Old 17-09-2018, 12:21   #15
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Re: Can I use UV dye in transmission

The dye I purchased says its completely safe to use in a transmission. I can see no reason why I wouldn't be safe in a saildrive.
https://www.amazon.com/Tracer-Produc.../dp/B000JFHNTM

Hell, even if you just use if for a few hours and then suck the oil back out. However, all the literature says its completely safe to leave in.

To all those asking why you need it. Its one of those products that you don't know you need until you have used it. Once you have actually used it to find a leak, you will swear by it. In some cases it only saves you a few minutes, but most of the time it saves hours of searching for the leak. Personally I will never be without a bottle.
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