2000 Windstar Trans fluid - To change or not to change?


Old 08-27-15, 11:08 AM
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2000 Windstar Trans fluid - To change or not to change?

Hey Guys,
2000 Ford Windstar 3.8.

The trans has been slipping/sometimes rough-shifting a bit between 1st and 2nd for the past couple of years. 2nd to 3rd gear is perfect. Still fully drivable.

The fluid has never been changed in the vehicle, ever. It used to leak a bit and in the past and so I've dumped anti-leak fluid in years ago from time to time. I'm thinking that right now there is a big mess of a mixture of old fluid and anti-leak stuff.

I was considering dropping the pan, dumping only the fluid in the pan and then replacing the filter. In other words, avoiding a complete flush but rather only replacing what comes out of the pan. I know that fully replacing the fluid in a car that's never been replaced can be bad for the trans.

Is this advisable, to replace only the portion of the fluid in the pan? This would get rid of some of the junk in there without making it too slippery by performing an entire flush.

Thanks for any insight.
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Old 08-27-15, 11:28 AM
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Welcome to the forums.

Based on folklore and based on the age of the vehicle...... don't change the trans fluid.
Old 08-27-15, 04:35 PM
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I'd change the fluid and filter.
What do you have to loose?
Old 08-27-15, 06:59 PM
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The use of my transmission.

The common opinion is that by completely replacing the fluid in an older car, the new fluid will be so much more slippery than the old that the transmission will become virtually non-functional.
Old 08-28-15, 03:40 AM
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I've heard of some that would drain/drop the pan, install a new filter and then reuse the old fluid. It's my understanding that it is the fresh detergent in the new oil that causes the problem by cleaning and breaking loose crud in the system which can then restrict the fluid flow.
Old 08-28-15, 06:05 AM
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I think the consensus in the industry is that if a fluid and filter change causes it to go south, it was on its last legs anyway. That being said I would leave it alone, but keep the phone number for a good towing company handy because it is eventually going to strand you at the most inopportune time.
Old 09-04-15, 12:16 PM
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Clean the pan, change the filter, and as much fluid as possible anyway. Changing the aged fluid on an old transmission that has never seen a fluid change will not hurt it nor will a transmission fluid exchange done with a machine.

Those are old wives tales and if a transmission dies due to either one of those then it was on its way out of this world anyway.
The best regimen for automatic transmissions is a fluid change every 30k miles.

I'm also aware of fluid that allegedly lasts a "lifetime" and transmissions that go for 250,000k miles with no fluid changes but the first one is related to the marketing departments and the second is luck of the draw. The regular fluid changes are to assure that you're not one of those whose transmission died 6 months out of warranty.
Old 09-04-15, 12:30 PM
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The best regimen for automatic transmissions is a fluid change every 30k miles.
Sure, but if you don't get to it anywhere near that often, consensus is to leave it alone for fear of stirring up the sludge.
Old 09-04-15, 12:58 PM
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I don't know the truth but I have had a national chain quick-lube place refuse to change the transmission fluid because of vehicle age. They said my transmission might fail if they did.
Old 09-04-15, 08:42 PM
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nothing wrong with preventive maintenance and fluid and filter change it can certainly extend the life of automatic transmissions.
it would be one of the first things I would change on a newly purchased used vehicle regardless of maintenance history or how old or how many miles may be on it.
but the original poster already has some transmission issues and probably wont benefit from preventive maintenance at this point but a rebuild or a new transmission should fix it.
Old 09-04-15, 09:03 PM
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As a mechanic of roughly40 years I respectfully stand behind my prior comments about transmission fluid changes.

As to stirring up sludge and leaving it alone, consider what that "sludge" is.

That brown or black "sludge" in the transmission pan is friction material from clutch plates and oxidized fluid from being overheated; meaning the transmission is on the way downhill or near gone all depending upon the amount of crud in the pan.
A light amount of brownish film is not as worrisome. Metal flakes in the pan ARE worrisome.

A friend of mine who is an auto trans rebuilder of roughly 40 years will say the same thing. He deals with automatics 5-6 days a week all day long and the number one killer of automatics is not changing the fluid regularly.

Now and then a radiator transmission fluid cooler may fail and allow engine coolant to mix with the transmission fluid which in turn can wipe an automatic out quickly but that scenario is not nearly as common as lack of fluid changes. Hope that helps.

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