Changing transmission fluid

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  #1  
Old 07-01-05, 07:59 PM
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Changing transmission fluid

want to change the automatic transmission fluid on my Ford Windstar and Chrysler Sebring myself. Is this possible, or do I need to take it to a shop? If it is possible what is the procedure?
 
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  #2  
Old 07-01-05, 11:58 PM
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You have to take the pan off as there is no "drain bolt" like for oil. change the filter while you have the pan off. Refill is easy with a long neck funnel where you add oil. It can be messy but no harder than doing oil remember the torque converter holds most of the oil.
 
  #3  
Old 07-02-05, 07:42 PM
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How do you get the oil out of the torque converter?
 
  #4  
Old 07-03-05, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Jerome
How do you get the oil out of the torque converter?

Have the transmission flushed. This will replace most of the fluid in the torque converter.
 
  #5  
Old 07-03-05, 07:48 PM
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Thanks guys. One more question can you flush the transmission yourself or do you need special equipment. If you need special equipment where do you get it?
 
  #6  
Old 07-03-05, 07:56 PM
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We have a machine at the shop we use to flush transmissions. Thats all I have ever used. This proceedure includes 14 qts of transmission fluid, a bottle of flush solvent and a bottle of treatment additive. I think we charge around $80.00 or so. I would say to have a shop do it for you. It would save you the mess in the driveway.
 
  #7  
Old 07-04-05, 07:33 PM
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Thanks I was hopeing to avoid the shop
 
  #8  
Old 07-04-05, 11:15 PM
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You can flush the system yourself without the flushing machine/service. In an auto trans the oil from the torque converter gets very hot and so is sent to the oil cooler for cooling. The procedure is as I recall, do a normal drain and refill. Then disconnect the oil cooler lines, start the car and then as oil drains out of the cooler lines, add the extra lost oil. You will need someone probably to start and stop the engine as needed. Once you have drained out the old oil you will probably see the color change. If not just do this until you've drained/refilled to the full recommended capacity.

I believe there is a link somewhere on the exact procedure (I think it was on the Fram website) but I don't have it to hand.
 
  #9  
Old 07-05-05, 08:14 AM
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Thanks RAV12. I don't really want to take these vehicles to a shop. In the Twin Cities area of Minnesota the shops have a new gimmick. They will quote you a price and when you come to get your vehicle the bill is higher than quoted. They add on a bill for shop towels. The last dealer I was at the shop towel bill was $17.00. The bill before shop towels was less than $100.00. Crooks run the shops in Minnesota.
 
  #10  
Old 07-05-05, 10:30 PM
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Sorry to hear about your shop experiences. Not that things are much better around where I am. I've generally also had poor experiences generally but the worse offenders tend to be transmission places.

The procedure for flushing it yourself is pretty strightforward. If you cannot find the link you can search in the google newsgroups - you should find many posts on how to do this.

While you are at it you may want to consider flushing the oil cooler. It is quite suprising how much material (mainly worn clutch material) can get inside the cooler. You can buy an aerosol based oil cooler flushing kit. You probably won't fnd it in regular auto parts places. You can either look for a transmission parts place locally although many may not sell to "members of the public". Or you can order from one of the manufacturers. I have bought transmission stuff from Life Automotive (www.lifeautomotive.com). You can buy it online and they will ship it to you.

Don't forget to clean the magnet and install a new filter. Good luck with the fluid change.
 
  #11  
Old 07-06-05, 02:06 PM
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Here is the procedure I think you want -

For those interested, here's the fluid change method I use on all my cars that don't have a torque converter drain:

1. Pull the transmission dipstick (located near the firewall in most cars). Fresh fluid is translucent and cherry red. Some darkening is normal, but if it is reddish brown or mustard color and smells like burnt varnish, it is worn out.

2. Make sure the fluid is warm.

3. Remove all pan bolts except for the corners. Remove the bolt from the lowest corner, then loosen the other corner bolts a turn or two. Carefully pry the pan to break the gasket seal at the lowest corner. Drain mostly from this corner. With good technique you can avoid or at least minimize the red bath.

4. Remove pan. Inspect the pan before cleaning. A small amount of fine grey clutch dust is normal. However, if you find metal shavings, there has been transmission damage. Remove all old gasket material. Clean the pan and magnet with solvent and wipe dry so there is no harmful residue. Shop air can be used to clean the magnet. Hammer back any pan damage from previous overtightening.

5. (Optional) Drill hole in pan at low point and install a drain kit available from most auto supply houses. Make sure the kit protruding inside the pan doesn't interfere with anything on the transmission.

6. Replace filter.

7. Position gasket on pan. Some gaskets have four holes slightly smaller than the rest to allow four bolts through the pan and through these smaller holes to hold the four bolts and gasket in place.

8. Hand tighten pan bolts in a criss-cross pattern. After that, use a torque wrench to tighten bolts to proper ft-lbs as per manufacturer.

9. Refill the transmission using only the amount shown as “refill capacity” in the owners manual (or an equal amount that was drained), using the type of fluid specified for the vehicle.

10. You now have replaced the trans fluid and filter according to manufacturer’s requirements. Fluid is changed in the pan only.

You can stop here and go to Step 17 if you just wanted a regular drop-the-pan fluid change. For a complete exchange of the fluid (including transmission body and torquer converter) continue with the next steps.

11. Obtain the total system capacity of the vehicle from the manufacturer. Have this amount - plus a bit more - of fluid readily available.

12. Disconnect the oil cooler line from the oil cooler. Tickle the ignition to find the flow direction. Direct the stream of fluid toward a receptacle. It is better to use a clear length of hose with a shoplight laying next to it so you can see when all the old fluid has left the system.

13. Start the engine, let it idle to pump out old trans fluid until you start seeing air bubbles.

14. Stop the engine. Refill transmission through fill tube with fresh fluid - same amount as pumped out (usually about 2-3 quarts).

15. When either the fluid color brightens or the total capacity has been replaced, shut the engine off and re-attach the oil cooler line. All trans fluid has now been changed.

16. Button everything back up. Clean up the mess.

17. Recheck the fluid level. With the car on level ground, set the parking brake and the transmission in “Park” or “Neutral.” Let the engine idle for a few minutes. Shift the transmission through all detents, pausing momentarily at each position, before returning the lever to “Park” or “Neutral.” Check the fluid level again and check for leaks. Refill fluid so it is slightly undercharged. This way it can be properly checked and topped off after a long drive.
 
  #12  
Old 07-06-05, 04:31 PM
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Thanks guys I am now going to tackle this job. The last time I took the van in for the transmission fluid change the bill was just shy of $100.00. THANKS
 
  #13  
Old 07-06-05, 04:46 PM
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I forget something, when you pump out the old fluid until you see bubbles do you damage anything? Replacing 2 to 3 quarts at one time in a transmission sounds like a lot of fluid. Or does the damage come only if you drive it that low on fluid?
 
  #14  
Old 07-06-05, 06:17 PM
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I see the next post coming! If I could get to my cooler lines what do I use to disconnect them!It has been many years since cars have had flare fittings with a hex head, you will need special tools to disconnect them. Do yourself a favor and take it to a reputable shop and have them flush it and drop the pan and change the filter. Should be close to $100 total, well worth the time,mess and expense you will go through.
 
  #15  
Old 07-06-05, 09:28 PM
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Yes, this looks like the procedure I have seen. But I agree - if it were me I would either add fluid at the same time it is being pumped out or go in 1/2 to 1 quart steps. 2-3 may be a bit excessive.

I would also give you another tip - I would suggest you invest in the relevant transmission manuals for your vehicles. You can find what trans you vehicle has and then purchase the appropriate manual for it. It will have exact procedures for service, troubleshooting etc. You can get one from ATSG (www.atsgmiami.com)
 
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Old 07-06-05, 09:30 PM
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It has been many years since cars have had flare fittings with a hex head, you will need special tools to disconnect them.
What kind of tools?
 
  #17  
Old 07-07-05, 06:41 AM
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In my opinion I don't think the short duration of bubbles will harm anything during this iterative process. The parts are still wet with fluid and properly lubricated - not bone dry. It would be ideal to pour fluid in the same rate that it comes out, but usually its hard to keep up with the flow. I've read of some guys that plumb one end of the line to dump the fluid into a bucket and the other to draw new fluid out of another bucket and throttle the action with a half-pinched line, but that is difficult to set up and calibrate. Many people use my procedure, no one has reported transmission damage.

The tool to use on the hex fitting is called a tubing wrench. It's like the open end of a combination wrench with two extra corners to provide better grip and prevent rounding of the hex. It might help to put some penetrating fluid on the connection a day before you tackle this job.
 
  #18  
Old 07-07-05, 09:30 PM
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Thanks I am still going to try it. You do one and the second one will be easier(hopefully). The next time you will know if you want to take it to a shop or do it yourself.
 
  #19  
Old 07-08-05, 06:51 AM
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With experience I now budget 2 hours for the job. Some cars cannot be ideally plumbed for the job so you may have to budget a lot of newspaper to contain the mess. It's messy regardless. I also try to be eco-friendly, so newspapers go in the fireplace.
 
  #20  
Old 07-08-05, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Jerome
Thanks I am still going to try it. You do one and the second one will be easier(hopefully). The next time you will know if you want to take it to a shop or do it yourself.
I still do it the old fashion way, every 30 K drop the pan and replace the filter. Has worked that way for years with no transmission trouble. Before the flush nobody even bothered with there transmissions until they quit, now everyone wants a flush,I chuckle.
 
  #21  
Old 07-08-05, 12:10 PM
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Yes, this is an interesting point. Most service manuals simply show the standard drain and refill procedure. I believe older trannies acrtually had a means of draining the torque converter. The newer ones do not. It could be because it is no longer needed or the manufacturers hope it will break sooner and thereby sell you new parts. On the other hand regularly doing a "standard" service without the flush will processively reduce the amount of the old fluid in the system which may be adequete. Some people say that using the flushing machine (I've never seen one but I guess it simply automates the procedure outlined by Kestas) without cleaning out the pan/magnet first could draw debris from the pan into the system and actually cause harm.

Either way I'm also not sure how much these flushes are needed but they are becoming popular.
 
  #22  
Old 07-08-05, 01:54 PM
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Since I posted the procedure, I've learned that various Ford factory service manuals detail transmission fluid changes pretty much the same way I listed the procedure.

Yes, you can simply drop the pan and replace what's in there, and it's better than doing nothing. But if you're willing to go the extra mile you can have ALL the fluid changed. You wouldn't think of changing only some of your engine oil, would you? Interestingly, I'll bet the same people who balk at exchanging all the transmission fluid obsess over getting every last drop of oil during an oil change. They balk because it's more work.

BTW, I have had a transmission that saw regular service by the book, yet still took a dump on me.
 
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