Report: #154393

Complaint Review: Cottman Transmission - New Port Richey Florida

  • Submitted:
  • Updated:
  • Reported By: Port Richey Florida
  • Cottman Transmission
    7400 US Highway 19
    New Port Richey, Florida

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In short:

Cottman Transmission of New Port Richey charged me for, and told me they replaced the bearings, gears, and synchros in my transmission.

They did not.

I have photographic proof.

They didn't even clean inside the case. They allowed me to take pictures of the inside of the transmission in their shop before any work was done. Two months later, when my Father and I cracked open the transmission, it was exactly the same, if not worse, as before it went to their shop. Apparently, after I left their shop the day I took the pictures, they closed the transmission up, and put it back in the car. They charged me for new parts. Total over $1600 including a new clutch, which wasn't needed, but was rather a maintenence procedure.

When I first drove the car after the "repair", I immediately noticed, besides the clutch having a problem, that the transmission felt exactly the same as it did before. With new bearings, gears, and synchros, it should feel like a new transmission. Several visits ensued, along with attempts for a refund, and attempts of recovery of parts lost by the shop.

The full detailed story:

(From a previous document by myself)

Dispute letter re: Cottman Transmission of New Port Richey, FL

This is to document the occurrences between the business Cottman Transmission of New Port Richey, FL, hereafter referred to as the shop, and I, in regards to the work performed on the vehicle registered to me, one 1994 Acura Integra LS, hereafter referred to as the car, or car.

To summarize the reason for needed repairs, at some point before I owned the car, while someone was changing out a seal on the transmission, they ruined the surface that the seal seats to, thus creating a leak. It is this leak that caused the problems that ensued. The synchros in the transmission were worn down from age, causing slow shifts, and grinding.

Tuesday 14 June 2005
Prior to this date, I noticed some abnormal vibration under acceleration that I had not yet had time to check out. While driving home from my place of employment on this date, the transmission started to kick out of 5th gear. By that, meaning that while the shifter was in the 5th gear position, and engaged, the shifter would pop into the neutral position, and the transmission would be in neutral. Upon researching, I found that this was due to a lack of transmission fluid.

Wednesday 15 June 2005
While driving to work, about 100 yards from my house, the transmission stopped working. To be specific, despite the position of the shifter, the transmission was always in a state of neutral, and no power would reach the drive wheels, thus the car would not move. The transmission made no noise at the point that it stopped functioning. I pushed the car back to my house.

Thursday 16 June 2005
I added transmission fluid to the transmission, with no change to the transmission's condition. At this point I assumed that the differential had failed in the transmission. I called several salvage yards, and filled out a form online for yards all across the country, for a complete transmission. Also at this time I searched online for transmission shops, found, and called Cottman Transmission of New Port Richey, FL. I talked to Shawn (last name unknown to me). Service was not agreed to or rendered at this time.

Saturday 18 June 2005
I called Shawn and we agreed on performing service to the transmission. I talked to him about the leak that started the whole scenario, and he said he has a guy that specializes in doing that, and that he trusts him with his own stuff. I told him that I don't even want to bother with the rest of the transmission unless the leak can be fixed, so this doesn't happen again. A tow truck was scheduled for Monday 20 June 2005 in the morning at the shop's expense. It was agreed that the transmission would be opened up, and I was allowed to take pictures of the internals, and at that time the mechanic would determine what needed replacing, and the prices would also be determined. It was at this point that it was understood between us that I wanted the old parts. (removed parts)

Monday 20 June 2005
Car was picked up in the morning by Ultima Towing. I followed the truck to the shop, and talked with Shawn for several minutes about my car, and cars in general, before I left.

Tuesday 21 June 2005
I stopped by the shop before work. The transmission was not yet out of the car.

Wednesday 22 June 2005
I stopped by the shop before work, and Shawn led me to another room where the transmissions are worked on. He showed me a transmission casing with a hole blown through it from a differential that had failed, with the differential parts still in it. After about thirty seconds, I let him know that it wasn't my transmission. He then realized that my transmission was on another table. Parts to be replaced had not yet been determined, and the transmission was not yet apart.

Thursday 23 June 2005
I called the shop, and Shawn said that the transmission was apart, and proceeded to tell me the prices on parts, and what the parts were. He said he was ordering NEW parts from Acura, and that Acura does not sell synchros by themselves, they come with the gears, thus it's more expensive.

The parts to be replaced inside the transmission were synchros, gears, and bearings. As a maintenance issue, while the transmission was out of the car, I had them replace the clutch as well. I was not in need of a new clutch. Those parts include the clutch disk, pressure plate, throw out bearing, and the pilot bearing. Flywheel resurfacing is also performed for clutch replacement. Other services to be done to the car were the fixing of the leak. I did not write down the prices he gave me over the phone, as I was expecting an itemized receipt. I was only interested in the total price. I went to the shop, and took pictures of the transmission internals.

Saturday 25 June 2005
I called the shop at 11:00am, and Shawn said that the car was ready to be picked up. I arrived at 11:45am, and they close at 12:00pm noon. I felt rushed, so on the receipt I only checked the total price. I did not notice at this time that the receipt was not itemized. I got in the car, and, unrelated to the work performed, after several tries, the car started, and immediately I noticed that the throw-out bearing for the clutch was squeaking very loud, and Shawn said that if it was still doing that in a week, he will replace it. As I was leaving, I noticed that whenever the clutch was engaging, it caused a chatter and violent shake all throughout the car.

Again, due to feeling rushed, I failed to ask for the old parts that I requested, and that Shawn agreed to give to me. While driving I noticed that the transmission also feels exactly the same as before it failed. Every gear engagement felt exactly the same. About an hour after I left the shop, I looked in the engine bay and noticed some things missing and out of place. There is a rubber boot that protects an opening to the clutch from dirt and debris. It was missing. There is a bracket that supports the lower radiator hose from rubbing against other components, preventing wear, and eventually a leak. This bracket also holds the ground strap for the transmission. It was missing. The ground strap was not connected. The wire for a sensor at the bottom of the transmission was mounted at the bottom of the transmission, leaving it open to being hit and cut by debris from the road. It was in the wrong place. The leak was not fixed. This was the main reason I brought the job to them.

Sunday 26 June 2005
I called Shawn at home and voiced my complaints. He said to bring it in on Monday, and I agreed.

Monday 27 June 2005
I took the car to the shop and showed Shawn the visible problems, and told him that it felt like the synchros and gears were never changed. He told me that he ordered them. I also informed him of the leak not being fixed, and the chattering with the clutch. We agreed that I would bring the car in on Thursday for the work to be performed.

Thursday 30 June 2005
I brought the car in the morning, and left it with the shop. Later in the day, Shawn called me and told me that the car was ready. I knew right away that the problems weren't solved in that short of time. I checked out under the hood of the vehicle, and noticed the boot was there, but installed incorrectly. The wire for the sensor was mounted in a better position. The bracket was not installed. Instead there was a bracket from something else bolted on in its place, and it did not hold the lower radiator hose correctly, causing it to rub against the transmission mount. The ground strap was connected to this new bracket.

Upon driving with one of the shop's mechanics, I notice no change in the clutch or the transmission. I could not recreate any grinding for the mechanic. I talked to Shawn about the clutch chatter, and showed him, and we agreed that I would bring it back next Thursday 7 July 2005 for a new clutch. When I got home, I jacked the car up, and inspected underneath. I was looking for a missing or incorrectly installed motor mount as the cause of the chatter. I found all mounts to be fine, but there were some bolts missing from the bottom of the transmission, and one of the bolts on a bracket between the engine and transmission was stripped, and completely backed out.

The only thing holding it from falling on the road was the exhaust pipe. It could not be tightened. I called Shawn and told him of my findings. He told me that he was mad that his mechanics were messing up, and said that when I bring it back Thursday 7 July 2005, I won't get it back until everything is correct. He said he was going to go over it himself, with a fine toothed comb.

Thursday 7 July 2005
I brought the car to the shop, and left a list on the dash of all the problems. I spoke to Shawn, told him about the list, and he said it should be done Saturday or Monday.

Monday 11 July 2005
I called Shawn, and he said they had just started working on it today.

Wednesday 13 July 2005
I received a call from Tom, saying that the car was ready. I had to go to work, so I told him I would pick it up tomorrow.

Thursday 14 July 2005
I went to the shop to get the car, and found out that Shawn had moved to Pennsylvania, and Tom took his place. The list I left with the car was gone. Tom said that it looked like the clutch had been power shifted. I told him no. I told him that the clutch was chattering since I first drove it off this lot a week ago. (Was actually three weeks.) Clutch disk was either defective, or the flywheel was machined wrong.

The only work that was performed was changing the clutch, and machining the flywheel (not confirmed). The clutch disk was only making contact on the outer part of the material, and the center of the disk was blue, as if it had been heated, so parts or installation was incorrect. I then went over each of the other problems that visibly were not fixed. He talked to the mechanics about the bracket that was missing, and replaced with something not from the car, and they said that the bracket was missing when I originally brought the car in.

That is a lie. I have never removed the bracket. It is my understanding that the bracket needs to be removed in order to take the transmission apart. It was lost during repair. In the pictures I took with Shawn when the transmission was first apart, the bracket is missing. Tom refused to get me a new bracket, stating the one that was put on the car was good enough. I told him that it is not acceptable, as it doesn't hold the lower radiator hose correctly. He shrugged my complaint off. I told him that the transmission was probably still leaking too. That night on the interstate, 5th gear kicked out, just like before I went to the shop. It continued to do so every time I attempted to use 5th gear.

Friday 15 July 2005
I called Tom, and told him that 5th gear was kicking out, just like before I brought it to them, and that the transmission was still leaking. We agreed that I would bring it in on Monday. 5th gear continued to kick out. I attempted to contact Cottman's main office via their website, and received no reply.

Monday 18 July 2005
My wife had a migraine, and a spike in blood pressure, warranting a visit to the emergency room all day. She is pregnant.

Tuesday 19 July 2005
I called Tom, and told him that I wanted my receipt itemized, or to see their receipt for ordering the parts new, and that I wanted to see the old transmission parts. He called back, and told me that by law they only have to hold the parts for [24 or 48] hours, then they dispose of them, and that their receipt was forwarded to the owner.

Wednesday 20 July 2005
I brought the car to the shop in the morning. Tom wanted me to come along for a test drive, but I could not stay, as I needed to bring my wife to work in her car, so I wasn't without transportation.

Thursday 21 July 2005
I received a call from Tom, saying that the car was ready. He said he could not recreate the kick-out of 5th gear. I don't see how this was possible. Even if I held it in 5th, it would violently kick out. He said that the transmission was dry, and that they fixed the leak (not confirmed). I picked up the car after hours, as I had no mode of transportation.

Thursday 28 July 2005
My wife called the shop, and asked for the receipt to be itemized, or to see their receipt for purchasing the parts. She talked to Rich (last name unknown), who said that Tom no longer works there, and that he had taken his place. He said that the receipt was forwarded to the owner. She asked if he could get copies of it. He said that he would work on it. She called back after a few hours, and he said he was busy and didn't have time to get to it. He took her number, and said he would work on it and call her back. He never called.

Tuesday 2 August 2005
My wife called the shop, and talked to Rich. He said he had been swamped, and he did not have time to do it. She said she gave him three days, and that she would come in at 2:00pm to pick up the copy. He said ok. She arrived at the shop at about 2:30pm. The owner was there. She did not get his name. He said that by law he did not have to give her a receipt. The mechanic said that there was nothing wrong with the car. The owner put his hand in front of her and said, Will you fix my hand? It's not broken, but will you fix it?

My wife contacted Cottman's main office via their website, and she received a reply from Liza McNally. She said that they can not do anything. She said that it will have to be handled with Mike, the owner of the shop. He has made it clear, as stated above, that we can not resolve this in a conventional manner. Thus, the steps we are taking now.

Owner: Michael Passarella
Phone Number: 727-452-1493 (unconfirmed)

Port Richey, Florida

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#1 Consumer Suggestion

Well done James.....

AUTHOR: Hugh - (U.S.A.)

Congrats on sticking with it and winning your case. As far as recovering your money, here's an old trick a lawyer friend has used thru the years with some success - get a friend that Cottman does not know to go there any buy something - anything - but make sure they pay with a check.

When your friend's check comes back thru his bank, it should have Cottmans' bank and checking account number on the back - race to the courthouse and get the court to attach that account.
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#2 Author of original report

Cottman did not pay. No surprise.

AUTHOR: James - (U.S.A.)

This is apparently how they do it.

Cottman Transmission has not paid as they agreed. I have filed an affidavit and motioned for a judgement. Owner Michael Passarella is making it as hard as he can for me to get my money back.

I wish I had made a stipulation on the agreement that non-payment would require him to owe the full amount or more.

This judgement will put a lien on the business.
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#3 Author of original report

Small claims resolution

AUTHOR: James - (U.S.A.)

The shop owner and myself had pre-trial mediation and came to a resolution. I should be receiving 83% of my claim in 30 days. I agreed to waive the cost of the clutch materials and taxes.
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#4 Author of original report

Cottman strikes back.

AUTHOR: James - (U.S.A.)

Over a month ago, Cottman submitted a rebuttal to my dispute, after I received a full credit. I submitted my response to the rebuttal.

I received a letter today from Visa, letting me know that Cottman has won the second dispute. Visa refused the submission of my photograpgic proof, and simply went by the written word of both parties. Cottman's rebuttal was 99% an attack on me, and lacked facts, but still they won. I don't yet know if VISA is imposing it's fine of up to $500 on me. I now have to turn to the court system to get my money back.

Any suggestions are welcome.

To see the letters and photos go to
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#5 Author of original report

ABC inAction News

AUTHOR: James - (U.S.A.)

I sent ABC Action News my photographic proof, and they contacted Cottman. The shop said that they would rebuild the transmission while I watched. I obviously refused. ABC closed the case.

I didn't ask, but I'm assuming that the practice is to simply mediate a solution, and if that doesn't work, they go on the air about it. Thus, Cottman made the "reasonable" offer, to avoid air time. I'm thinking this has happened before. To be honest, I didn't report this to them for them to mediate. That part is DONE. Perhaps I will get in touch with them again. Get this, the person I was working with was screwed a few years ago by the same shop!

On another note, my credit card dispute was accepted by Cottman's bank, and I received a full credit.

To be continued...
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#6 Author of original report

It hasn't popped out since they "fixed the leak"...

AUTHOR: James - (U.S.A.)

...even though it still leaked, just not as fast. The stiffener bolt still has a few threads to bite, even though most of them stay with the bolt when you remove it.

It's a moot point though. The summary before my long story, and the information at my site is the real point. They did not replace ANYTHING in the transmission, as I was billed. Proof in the pictures. Do not go to this shop. I don't want to get away from that. That's why I posted to this site.

Go to (copy/paste) for all the information and pictures.

Thanks again for your help.
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#7 Consumer Suggestion

Jumping out of 5th gear

AUTHOR: Jim - (U.S.A.)


This is a bit "Off the wall" but I recomend you get that emgine trans brace rethreaded and securely bolted down. I strongly suspect the jumping out of gear problem will fix itself.


Flex between the engine and trans will cause the input shaft to move slightly, this could cause enough misalignment to make the synchronizer "Walk" away from the engagement position.

Where did I get such a weird idea?

From an entirely different engine/trans combo that did the exact same thing. when the trans on my wife's car kept jumping out of 5th gear,

When I removed the trans to rebuild it I found a cracked bellhousing, It also had a trans/engine brace that aparently stripped a bolt while driving. I found this on disassembly before finding the cracked bellhousing (When I removed the brace to bellhousing bolts, the brace fell out, ain't supposed to do that) and also had to helicoil it as the block threads were stripped, I decided to replace the bellhousing first and see if it was the problem, it worked, misalignment (Flex) was the entire problem.

Just to see how entirely off the wall this is, the engine trans combo was from a 1973 4 cyl 2000 cc pinto station wagon with a 5 speed trans and conventional rear wheel drive.

But the thing to remember is they don't put a brace anywhere that they don't absolutely have to. And a missing bolt or brace between the engine and trans is to prevent any motion (Flex)between the two. It ran another 250,000 miles and gave absolutely no further trouble. (Total of around 475,000 and no, not a misprint)
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#8 Author of original report

really appreciate that you read all or most of my report

AUTHOR: James - (U.S.A.)

First of all, I want to thank you both for your responses. I really appreciate that you read all or most of my report.

With the exception of the engine internals, and the fuel tank and pump, I have been over every square inch of this vehicle.

With the exception of tire mounting and balancing, and alignment adjusting, I have either done, or had a direct hand in every repair to this vehicle, up until Cottman Transmission. What a deal, huh?

Jim, I understand what you're saying about the vibration. I have had this before. The passenger side inner CV joint failed on me before, and it was a miracle I made it back to the house. I sourced a new driveaxle and installed it. Good as new. When this vibration started again, as stated above in my initial report, I suspected my driver side inner CV joint, even though the driveaxle wasn't very old, and I hadn't noted any problems the last time I inspected it (I know it could be damaged under the boot). After the car became immobile, I sourced the driver side driveaxle, and jacked up the car to install. I found that there was nothing wrong with the current unit. I also noted that spinning one wheel produced no movement in the other (while in gear of course), consistent with what Cottman reported as "a driveaxle popped out of the differential". I did not check to see if the driveaxle was firmly seated in the transmission. Hindsight is 20/20, I know. At that point, I believed the differential at fault, and began my search for salvage transmissions, and calling repair shops. Vehicle has almost 240,000 miles, and the transmission has leaked since before I owned it.

You say tomato, I say tomatoe, you say transAXLE, I say transMISSION. I know the difference, and I know what I have. It's no big deal.

According to countless members of online Honda oriented forums, when someone has a symptom of 5th gear pop-out, they tell them to check their fluid. They do. 9/10 it's low, they add, and it's fixed. I don't know how to explain it, and my Father also didn't agree, but who am I to argue? Aside from that, when we pulled the transmission apart, we did not notice that the driveaxles have been changed. They certainly didn't appear or feel NEW. I installed both of the units. Although, since you bring it up, I will inspect them much closer to be sure. Mounts are the same. Shift linkage is fine. Clutch was fine, showed no signs of imminent failure, and continued to work after vehicle became immobile.

After pushed home, no fluid aside from previously dropped transmission fluid, and nothing hanging or loose.

I will re-inspect the driveaxles and mounts to be sure. I know the clutch did not fail.

Leak is not from stripped bolt. Stripped bolt was not in the transmission, it goes into the block. It goes into the engine stiffener brace (between engine and trans). The bracket mentioned was on top of the transmission, and in order for it to fall off, both bolts to the transmission would have to be removed, the bolt for the ground strap, and it would have to come loose from the lower radiator hose support. I figured I'd source one from a yard, like you said.

Clutch vibration, as I said, either the disk or the flywheel machining was bad. The disk was only making contact toward the outside of the material. And he told me I was "power shifting". Please. They replaced, and the new unit is better, although I still get some slight chatter. I'm trying really hard to remember if the previous clutch did.

Did you look at the site? I have all the pictures there:

I will double check the mounts and driveaxles. Thanks again Jim, I really appreciate your time and help!

Nate, my suspicions are proven at the above site. Thanks for letting me know about the synchro availability. I received a printout of all the bearings, synchros, and gears, and also the sleeve sets, from Acura, so I have p/ns and prices, and generally a list.

As for the popping out of gear, I failed to mention, it wasn't just under acceleration, or throttle change. It was under a steady cruise as well.

You mention no movement associated with no fluid, and that was the case. After I found the driveaxle not at fault, I re-filled with Honda MTF, but no change.

Although I agree with going to the dealer for repairs, I do not have the time or resources to use them effectively. The nearest is ~30 miles, whereas my garage is attached, and if I do the work, I know it's done right. If not I can only blame myself. I'm sure you can understand that. Not to mention the price of dealer service. That doesn't mean I don't use Honda parts. Timing belt, water pump, gaskets, seals, fluids, I wouldn't get from anywhere else.

Nate, thank you for your time and input. I really appreciate it.

I will look in to these things.

Jim, Nate, thanks again.
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#9 Consumer Suggestion

Transmission was probably not repaired at all

AUTHOR: Nate - (U.S.A.)

I am an Acura Technician and have worked on many Integra transmissions.

It seems to me that your suspicions about the transaxle being removed from the car and simply reinstalled are probably true. I agree with you that Cottman most likely only replaced the clutch set (and did a subpar job).

What I can tell you is that all the individual synchros are available from Acura, and do NOT have to be purchased in a set with their respective gears. It is difficult to say whether Shawn was just lying to you or if he was given the wrong information.

I can also tell you that I have personally rebuilt some manual transaxles that were just recently rebuilt by a transmission shop. This is due to the fact that most transmission shops use very cheap and substandard parts to rebuild them. I have seen a large number of missing bolts and damage to other parts that would indicate poor workmanship.

As far as the issues with the trans you are complaining about, here is what I have seen as solutions to your symptoms:

1-Pops out of gear- I have to agree with Jim that the common cause for this is broken motor/trans mounts. Although, I have also seen the same symptom as a result of very low transmission fluid causing damage.

2-No movement in gear- This is almost always a clutch (or clutch master cylinder) problem in the 2nd generation Integra, however, it can also be caused by NO fluid in the transaxle. I have witnessed this firsthand. Although Jim states that a worn out universal joint can cause this (which is actually a constant velocity joint "CV"), the design on an Integra would require the CV joint to have completely disintegrated. I have never seen this happen on an Integra.

3-Vibration under acceleration- I will have to side with Jim again that this is most likely the inner CV joint being worn. Broken motor/trans mounts could also be suspect, but one or more of the CVs are likely worn on your car.

The bottom line is that the repairs performed (if any) were substandard at best as they did not address your complaints of fluid leakage and popping out of gear. This is unfortunately what is to be expected when taking your car to technicians who are not familiar with your specific type of vehicle. I would recommend the Acura dealer in your area for future repairs to ensure correct diagnostics and repairs.
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#10 Consumer Suggestion


AUTHOR: Jim - (U.S.A.)

I'm a Master Mechanic, I have no connection with Cottman.

First of all, a vibration under accelleration when driving is most likely not in the transmission at all, it's usualy a universal joint gone bad (Front Axle joint), a simple repair that has no need to work on the transmission at all.

Second, A front drive has a "Transaxle", not a "Transmission".

Third, a leak will not cause a transmission to "Pop" out of gear. If you lost your transmission fluid the transmission should have siezed (Locked) NOT Popped out of gear. Popping out of gear can also be a misadjusted or worn shift linkage, also can be caused by bad or worn engine mounts.

Fourth, a clutch failure will indeed cause the transmission to not move in any gear, But an axle failure (Far more common) will cause the same thing, I hope that when you had to push it home you looked under the car to see if there was any fluid on the ground, and if anything was hanging down underneath? If not, I can't help you here.

Fifth,The whole problem seems to me a bad mis-diagnosis, from your report I feel the one of the front axle universals failed, (Common) that would cause both the problems you stated, first the vibration when accellerating, (And the fact that you could not make it vibrate later) then the complete failure to move in any gear, those are the exact symptoms of an axle failure (It's really a quite common failure)Second problem of the trans kicking out of 5th gear can be caused by bad mounts, particurlarly the wearing out of the "Dog Bone" that keeps the engine/trans combo from rotating when you accellerate and slow down.

I'd like you to do this, go to another unrelated trans place and ask them if either or both front axles are new, also ask if any of the engine mounts (Dogbone or supports)are new.

If the answer is yes, then what probably happened is that after jacking up the car they discovered a bad axle joint, replaced it, and didn't tell you, (Yes that's fraud and theft) the trans was never touched and they tried to cheat you.

The rest is "Cover Their a*s"'

But you MUST first see if the axles and/or mounts are new, no new axles, then yes you had a clutch failure, but from your report it doesn't seem a bit likely.

As for the stripped bolt and loose bracket, that's easily possible to happen while driving, So I must ask you a question. "Is the trans leak near, or at the stripped bolt?" If yes, then no it's not their doing. (The leak proves it's a previous problem) And also yes the bracket was missing, (Fell off while driving probably) this happens often, but be sure the leak is from the stripped bolt area.

A "Helicoil" thread insert is a pefectly acceptable stripped thread repair, it's stronger than new.

If you must, order a correct bracket from the dealership, but be prepared to hear "Not Available" junkyard brackets are good enough.

As for hopping out of 5th gear, yep, IF THE MOUNTS ARE NEW AND GOOD then that's bad synchronizers, don't try to fix it, replace the whole transmission with a good junkyard unit

Clutch vibration, again IF THE MOUNTS ARE NEW AND GOOD then the clutch is bad.

In short, go for the mounts and "Dogbone" first, when you have replaced them, re-test drive.
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