Adding Transmission Fluid


Old 12-31-03, 10:43 AM
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Adding Transmission Fluid

My car's been shifting (its a 3 speed automatic) rough - so I checked my transmission fluid and sure enough - I needed some. I read all over this forum to see about adding transmission fluid (hoping not to have to ask a question at all) - but now I have two questions.

First -

I add transmission fluid to the same hole as the dipstick - no problem, but how much fluid is between the two lines (minimum and maximum?). I added 16 oz - and then tried to check my fluid level - but since I poured the fluid down the dipstick tube, I can't really tell how much it now (fluid is all over the dipstick). I can wait for it to drain and try again - but if I knew the amount of fluid between the min and max lines - I could add more (or less).

Second -

I read somewhere that if you smell something burning that your transmission is toast. I noticed when pulling out the dipstick (my car was running idle for about 15 minutes) that it does smell kinda like its burning. It smells similar to what burning coolant smells like. I'm planning to bring the vehicle in for service soon - should I do it immediately? Do I need a new transmission? The car only has 88,000 miles on it (98 Jeep Wrangler).


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Old 12-31-03, 01:39 PM
darrell McCoy
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In most cases, between min and max is 1 qt. 88K and if the trans has seen no maint, fluid/filters, it is probably about due to crap out on you.
Old 01-05-04, 10:03 AM
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Replace fluid or keep it?

I have had the transmission fluid replaced twice so far. I believe the first time was around 30,000 miles. The second time was around 60,000 miles. I'm approaching 90,000 miles and would think this would be the normal time for me to replace the fluid - but...

If its brown and smells funky - I've read that I should just leave it until my transmission fails completely, and then install a new transmission -

But I've also read elsewhere that if its brown its time to replace the fluid.

What is correct?

On a side note - I added 16 oz of transmission fluid - and the car seems to be running better, but still isn't shifting smoothly. I've only driving it once, about two miles since the problem. (I use my car only once or twice a week these days)
Old 01-05-04, 10:30 AM
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If it has been running low for awhile then it could possibly be a little burnt. But I wouldnt condemn it just yet. With the car cold pull the trans dipstick and smell it. This will eliminate your senses being overpowered by the odor of other warmed fluids. It will have a distinct odor and you will be able to tell if it is burnt. As long as you have been keeong it maintained, like it sounds you have, then I would replace the filter(s) and fluid and keep driving.
Hope this is helpful to ya,
Old 01-05-04, 07:20 PM
mike from nj
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most every transmission, in all manufacturer's vehicles, end up with a burnt smelling fluid from normal driving. unless you can distinguish slightly burnt from very burnt, it's not an accurate way to diagnose a transmission' life. some fluids come out of the bottle with so many additives and friction modifiers---it smells burnt when 'new'. if the fluid cooler bypass valve stuck(and bypassed the cooler), you'd have black fluid, yet there'd be nothing wrong with the trans(for a while)

a properly maintained vehicle(trans included) will last almost forever

my advice: get the trans serviced, ask to have the throttle
'pressure' cable's adjustment checked (by someone who knows how to do it!!!!!)(not someone who 'thinks' they know how to do it!!) this cable goes from the engine to the trans, not the gas pedal to the engine. it will make a big difference in shift feel if it's even 1/8" wrong. sometimes, the ball on the end of the cable gets slightly rusted, and doesn't allow the cable to return fully, then you end up with a poorly shifting trans.

low fluid means something is leaking, find the leak and fix that too. if the trans pan gasket is leaking, don't use that type anymore, or it will be leaking again, and low fluid can cause it's own big problems.

let us know what happens

(usually the 'min' fluid mark is for cold fluid, and the 'max' area is for fully warmed up, you're owner's manual should explain this too)
Old 01-12-04, 12:04 PM
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Trans shop

Mike -

Since you're also from NJ - what do you think of the Union City Aamco? I guess I could try asking for a recommendation from an 'independent local towing company' - but maybe you know a reputable trans shop in Northern NJ?

Old 01-13-04, 02:27 AM
mike from nj
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i'm sorry, i don't really know any shops up there

my one experience with an aamco, they rebuilt a trans(that didn't need to be), and it didn't fix the poor shifting problem, then after that, they decided to diagnose and try to fix it. it never shifted good after that, however it did shift very slightly better. this was my uncle's car, and he really needed it back, so we left it that way. i just rebuilt that trans, a week before, and couldn't get it to shift the way i wanted (very sloppy shifts). they said it needed all new parts inside(they were all new already). there's more to this story, but i can say that i wouldn't recommend that particular store.

you'd be surprised how many times we have repair orders written up for with "big name" trans shops as the customer, and we have to fix it for them. i'd be willing to bet they aren't losing money on these deals either. add 10-20% and hand it off to the customer, and they're none the wiser.

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