tranny flush

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Old 10-20-12, 10:27 AM
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tranny flush

I have a 2003 buick regal that just turned 100,000 miles, mostly highway. The manual says to replace tranny fluid and filter.. If i just drop the pan and change filter only about half of fluid is going to be drained. I have heard both pros and cons on flushing and start with all new fluid. Dealer says they just backflush, do not replace filter, new fluid for $125, $200 for flush and filter change. Tireman does both for $125, another shop does both for $180. The transmission shop says all they do is drop pan, new filter and 5 quarts of fluid. I have heard stories about flushing and it causes problems. Any recommenditions? I am leaning towards flush and new filter.
 
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Old 10-20-12, 12:27 PM
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Well, you can flush without any hassle, just time taking.
Actually, your trannie prolly has about 14-15 qrts total volume. When you simply drain and refill, you normally replace only a 3rd or so of entire fluid volume.
So, if your vehicle has drain plug, you can drain what drains, refill, drive for about 15 miles or so, drain, refill again, drive again, drain, drop pan and replace filter, and do final refill. Total flush is about 15 qrts in this manner, without any damage done. Also, in between, you can pour can of Transtune into trannie and drive on it, cleaning gunk out of it.
It's time taking, but very "natural" flush.
 
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Old 10-20-12, 12:33 PM
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No drain plug. GM service guy said with that many miles an backflushing there will be alot of gunk, but said they don't have many problems doing that on gm trannys. He said it is suppose to be flushed every 45000 miles. I don't believe that. Manual says to do nothing until 100,000.
 
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Old 10-20-12, 01:02 PM
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If the factory doesn't recommend it...there's no reason to do it. Engineers and tech writers make the manuals, not bean counters. If something was intentionally omitted that would damage the vehicle, the company would be open to massive lawsuits. If your manual says flush, then flush. If it just says "trans service" then ask the service writer to show you the factory procedure. I highly doubt it says flush....but I'd lay odds it DOES say replace the filter.

The dealer can make more money by disconnecting the trans cooler lines, hooking up the machine then refilling. What would that take? 15-20 min? If they drop the pan and replace the filter that means more work=less profit.

Every impartial Pro mechanic I've ever heard or read says trans flushes are nothing but money makers for the shop doing it.
 
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Old 10-20-12, 04:14 PM
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Personally, based on only what I've read online in forums, etc, I'm not a fan of flushes. I prefer the simple drain and refill with a new filter in place if applicable. I did my 2005 F150 at 40 something thousand, 5 1/2 qts of fresh Mercon V with a new filter, and will do it again around 80. I don't believe the Ford book calls for any trans fluid servicing on this vehicle. 5+ qts of fluid with the important FRESH additive package. On our Trooper, it has a washable screen for a filer that I've never seen any debris on in 150k, so I just started draining it with the drain plug and refilling periodically. 190k on it now with no problems. I prolly change it every 25-30k.
 

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Old 10-20-12, 04:20 PM
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Filter and fluid.
 
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Old 10-20-12, 09:46 PM
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Some transmissions can apparently be flushed by pulling one of the fluid lines, the one that delivers fluid to the heat exchanger in the radiator, and running the transmission in neutral for a short time, which will pump the fluid out. I've never tried this myself, but I've seen others post in various car forums about succeeding personally with this technique. I would not be averse to trying it, but only on a cold start after sitting and cooling down. Transmission fluid gets very hot while in use.
 
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Old 10-23-12, 08:57 AM
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I'm a big proponent of completely exchanging transmission fluid at regular interval. The first flush is the most important as it gets rid of break-in debris. It should ideally be done around 20K.

BTW, it's not just engineers that write manuals and maintenance procedures. It's also VPs and marketing types that want to project a "low maintenance" image of their product.

Transmission Fluid Exchange

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. For pans that don't have drain plugs, 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. If it’s a metal screen filter, it can likely be cleaned and reused.

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 transmission 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). After the first iteration, it helps to shift the transmission through the detents, pausing at each one, to get the old fluid out of the circuits.

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.
 
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Old 10-23-12, 09:25 AM
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Ahh Kestas....there's a difference between what you do and what a shop normally calls a "flush". They use machines that circulate a solvent backwards through the trans under pressure. I just don't see that as a good idea and apparently neither do any manufacturers...at least none that I know of. As I was looking I found that GM specifically says not to power flush engines or transmissions and apparently so do many others.

I think your method is just fine....but I would call it a "complete drain and fill" or as you said "complete fluid exchange", although of course it does somewhat "flush" things out of the system.
 
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Old 10-23-12, 09:30 AM
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My understanding is you either flush on a very regular basis or you never do it. So, in this case, fluid and filter is what I'd do.
 
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Old 10-23-12, 02:15 PM
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Wifey called from NM yesterday having tires balanced/rotated, oil change, front brakes, lube, etc. Good idea for trip home. Gotta love those guys, you know Manny and his brothers. Everywhere she turned they were saying she needed this or needed that. Her brain finally clicked in gear and she called me. I told her to put the mechanic on the line. She doesn't need new shocks, nor does she need new fuel lines, nor does she need power steering hoses. Gee, when does it stop? Finally she got back on the phone and said....I guess I don't need the transmission flush service, then.....Crap. NO. I'll cancel it, then. I asked the mechanic what color the fluid was, and he said red, then I told him to put the dipstick back in the tube.
On top of that, she is planning on trading cars when she gets back in a couple of weeks.
 
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Old 10-23-12, 03:35 PM
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Pretty well trained spousal unit, Larry. My sister calls me almost every time she's having her oil changed for stuff like that.
 
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Old 10-23-12, 04:34 PM
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At least she calls BEFORE she has the work done. Mine calls during the 7th inning stretch , and sometimes it's too late.
After all this, I told her I had a deacon's meeting from 7 to 9pm at church so I wouldn't take calls. Well sure 'nuff, she called at 8pm. Seems she had lost her credit card and wanted me to cancel it........Duh, it's YOUR credit card, you cancel it. Luckily between 8 and 9 she found it, just to lose her cell phone . Didn't find it until this morning, in the door pocket of her SUV. Oh, she's a trip..........not one way, though.....she keeps coming back.

Sorry nightowl66, we got on a tangent. Hopefully there was good information on the posts that will help you make a good decision regarding the flush thingy.
 
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Old 10-23-12, 08:11 PM
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I convinced my wife, back before we got married, to get the factory book for her Integra. She has most of her service done at the dealer, and given some of the quality issues we've seen with non-dealer parts I don't necessarily object to that, but when they wanted $900 to change a radiator we drew the line. It cost me maybe $200 in parts with the hoses and thermostat, and a couple of hours. For some reason Honda zip-tied the wiring harness to the fan shrouds on the body-side of the connector, and getting to those zip ties was a PITA. It's really opened the eyes of the service managers though, when they tell her something and she whips out the book and tells them to show her. Sometimes they can point it out and what they're quoting makes sense, sometimes they essentially retract their statement.

Only car I don't have an FSM for is the '86 Pontiac TA; still looking as I've got some issues to resolve with the stupid computer-controlled carburetor and the various sending units...
 
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