Got it on a friend's hoist and pulled the plastic cover off to investigate. The leak was coming from the perimeter of the transmission drain plug. The plug seemed tight enough not to be leaking, so maybe there's a gasket or o-ring that needs replaced? Live 3 hours from a dealer, so will have a local mechanic take a look tomorrow. How do you add to or measure the fluid level or is this a dealer-only project?
The trans is 'sealed' (not serviceable by the consumer) so there's no procedure in the owner's manual to check level or do anything else to it. There's a drain plug and a fill plug. It sounds like your drain plug may have been cross-threaded - I don't know if it has an O-ring or other gasket. Level is checked by removing fill plug. I'm guessing the hot level with engine off should just be at the edge of the fill hole. The trans fluid is a KIA spec but should be available at the dealer. Possibly a 'fit-all' fluid like Valvoline synthetic 'Max-Life' DexMerc would be suitable - it is spec'd for Toyota, Honda and many others and is an excellent trans fluid. But don't use anything but the approved fluid until you know for sure it is okay. I wonder if the six-speed auto is an Aisin trans? They have made a lot of five and six-speed autos for many manufacturers. It certainly has the snappy shifts of an Aisin.
I imagine they will replace the trans if the leak can't be fixed with an O-ring or gasket.
The plug/fill hole I referred to is on the front side of the transaxle case; it has a 3/8" square hole in the middle of it to turn it out. Are you saying that taking it out to see what's wrong would not cause a significant amount of transmission fluid to run out? My mechanic was tempted to do that, but concerned that he couldn't add any fluid if he got it too low. Thanks again!
There's supposed to be a check-level plug and a drain plug. No, you would not remove the drain plug without being prepared to refill the trans. I can't find where I learned what little I know about the drain/fill plugs, so I guess I'm pretty well tapped-out on the question.
a very important part of drain plugs is that they can be steel bolts and threaded into aluminum . very important to not over tighten . as the alloy is soft and steel hard . also doing them up when the aluminum is still warm makes it worse as the alloy is softer