300E 89 transmission problem

Hi,
My 89 300E has started to act strange. It began by not switching gears right away at lower speed (10 miles/hr - 15miles/hr) and lately when placed in D it doesnt seem to want to move
forward (it seems to work fine in reverse) that is it takes a while for the car to gain speed, eventually switching to the higher gear (this i just noticed today). It has about 189,000 miles.
The transmission has a minor leak, and oil has been added before. What is an optimal way to check the oil level? ie. start car let it run for 10 mins and while running check tranny oil? or do i need to drive the car around a bit before checking?
Does it seem like it may be major work? if the leak is fixed along with new oil/filter is there a possibility that the issue will go away? or is the issue of having trouble to switch to a higher gear a vacumm problem?
Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated, in low in funds and I will have to take it to a mechanic, however i would like to find out what possible issues may be at hand, and/or if its even worth it to do a transmittion / filter change.
Thanks
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The transmission fluid should be checked hot, after some driving, with the engine idling and the car parked on a relatively level place. The level should be BETWEEN the two marks on the dipstick.
Changing the fluid, including draining the torque converter and replacing the transmission filter would be the best thing to do now. It can't hurt, isn't expensive and will either fix the problem or, with no change, confirm that the problem is a significant one. It's the minimal solution at this point.
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I've had two transmission problems in my 89 300E that I thought were major, but were really minor. maybe you have one of these:
1) My transmission would not shift into the higher gears. Turned out that the filter screen was clogged... just make sure you service the transmission occasionally to prevent this. Paid a fortune to have the dealer tell me that.
2) The modulator valve (on the side of the transmission and very easy to replace) went bad and the engine was sucking transmission fluid out of the transmission and into the engine crankcase. When the transmission would seem slow to engage... I would know that it was time to add another quart. The engine of course was quite over filled and beginning to smoke a lot. I thought that both the engine and transmission were shot. Not at all... a $28 modulator valve from www.europarts.com solved the problem.
================================================

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Thank you for your replies.
It turns out the transmission was low in oil, and i was unaware of how to properly check it (engine running / transmission in Park).. put a couple of quarts of transmission oil and its working again as it was before.
Therefore it seems my issue at least is not as bad as i thought it might be. I still have to deal with a leak, hopefully its not a major leak and it can be corrected by that oil filter change. After a long commute i can see smoke not a lot but some come up from under the car (when stopped at a red light).. i thought perhaps the oil from the leak was hitting the exhaust, could it be the beginning of #2 issue that cabob1984 describes. Is $200 for an oil filter/transmission oil change about average, when performed by a dealer?
By the way i tried www.europarts.com it didnt seem to work.. is this the correct address?
Thanks again, Gus
Gus wrote:

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I paid $125. for Fluid and filter at a independent Transmission shop. I avoid the stealer whenever possible!
****Dennis Wyatt*****

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Good parts supplier at www.germanstar.net

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