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Old 08-20-2019, 05:00 PM   #1
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Late-model automatic transmissions

In the world of automatic transmissions, things have changed in the last 20 years. For my 1999.5 SuperDuty tow vehicle, the specs called for MERCON ATF, changed every 20,000 miles. If I did that, and never allowed the ATF to overheat, I would expect over 100,000 miles before my first tranny overhaul.

My 2019 F-150 tranny requires the newer long-life ATF, an the first ATF change is not until 150,000 miles, regardless of how hard to you work the tranny. Click on the following link for a recent report by Blackstone labs about this.
https://gallery.mailchimp.com/f64139...newsletter.pdf
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Old 08-20-2019, 05:10 PM   #2
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Back in the 1980's I would have the hood up on my car at least once a week doing something. Now I have the hood up 2 times a year if it needs it if not.

But tranny fluid change every 150,000 miles is hard to believe, especially if you work it easy or work it hard.

Must be a combination of 3 things:
1. Improvements in metallurgy
2. Improvements in precise machining of the gears and seals.
3. Improvements in lubrication

What do you guys think ?
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Old 08-20-2019, 08:25 PM   #3
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My F-350 doesn't even have a drain in the pan, and I have a 100k mile warranty. I won't be changing it.

Same with the oil - ~10k changes or when the computer says so, not a mile before. So far it's been 10k each time. We tow heavy about 1/3 of the miles.

These aren't the trucks from the 60's anymore.... engineers have done the math. And I come from a family of engineers so I trust them.
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Old 08-20-2019, 09:31 PM   #4
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Well the Aisin in the Rams have drain and refill at 30,000 miles, and a drain fill and filter change at 65,000 miles.
In our 79 and 89 F250’s with the C6, the cooler return line drained directly into the sump. So you could disconnect the return and drain into a large pan. Start with fresh filter pan full of clean fluid, start engine, wheels blocked, parking brake set helper with foot of brake pedal start engine and start shifting through the gears, while you start adding fluid at a pace that keeps up with the drain. Keep watching what is going in the tub for color change from dark red to bright red. Button up and top off fluid if needed.
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Old 08-21-2019, 07:07 AM   #5
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I tow heavy for my 2016 F150.
I dropped my tranny pan for the 1st time at 90K miles. I installed a new filter and topped off the fluid (almost half of the total). I also installed a new pan with a drain plug. I now drain and fill the tranny every 3rd engine oil change (which I do every 5K miles).
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Old 08-21-2019, 07:57 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokeyWren View Post
In the world of automatic transmissions, things have changed in the last 20 years. For my 1999.5 SuperDuty tow vehicle, the specs called for MERCON ATF, changed every 20,000 miles. If I did that, and never allowed the ATF to overheat, I would expect over 100,000 miles before my first tranny overhaul.

My 2019 F-150 tranny requires the newer long-life ATF, an the first ATF change is not until 150,000 miles, regardless of how hard to you work the tranny. Click on the following link for a recent report by Blackstone labs about this.
https://gallery.mailchimp.com/f64139...newsletter.pdf
Not sure what your question is exactly. Yes, trannies have changed a LOT in 20 years! from 4 and 5 speeds to 6, 8 and 10+ speeds. Fluids have changed specs and types multiple times over the years. It is growing frustration for shopowners like myself that try and stock fluids. I must have 8 to 10 different ATF fluids in stock and now only carry the 4 or 5 most popular, order the rest as needed. It isn't uncommon to have 3000$ of ATF sitting in inventory to cover barely 50-60% of the market, and that's only enough for 1 or 2 vehicles per fluid.

At any rate, if yours is the 8 or 10 speed i'd hold off a bit on any trans fluid replacement as long as yours works fine and doesn't shudder/jerk. Lots of issues on these on the GM side and I know Ford has the same trans although gearing may differ as may shift software. Have been 2 or 3 updates to ATF on these at GM.
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Old 08-21-2019, 11:08 AM   #7
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I don't care what the schedule says. >50% of my mileage is towing, so I plan to have mine changed every 36mo.
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Old 08-21-2019, 12:08 PM   #8
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I can't go back and edit my previous comment in post #5 so...
I originally did not intend to do it myself but when I inquired at my local dealer I was told, "We don't drop the pan to change the filter, we only do a flush". When I again explained that I wanted my filter and pan changed, I got the cold shoulder. They didn't want to open it up. Oh well, I feel better about it now since I know I did it right and now have a pan with a drain plug.
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Old 08-21-2019, 03:02 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by kdauto View Post
Not sure what your question is exactly.
I don't have a question. I was simply passing on the info in the Blackstone Labs report.
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Old 08-21-2019, 06:50 PM   #10
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I had a long time transmission guy tell me, unless its burnt, never change the fluid. Most use synthetic now days. As most shops just flush it, but don't change the filter, unless it is burnt, its not worth changing. Just like the old way of changing the engine oil ever 3000 miles, you are probably hurting more than helping. Everytime you change the engine oil, you are starting it with no oil pressure. I had a Tundra that is still out there, running around at 300,000 miles on a tranny that never had the transmission fluid changed. Truck had a constant 1500 lbs on it since it was new. As I said before, if it smells or looks burnt, change it, if not, your wasting your money.
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Old 08-22-2019, 02:19 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 77Travco View Post
I tow heavy for my 2016 F150.
I dropped my tranny pan for the 1st time at 90K miles. I installed a new filter and topped off the fluid (almost half of the total). I also installed a new pan with a drain plug. I now drain and fill the tranny every 3rd engine oil change (which I do every 5K miles).
That fluid looks a bit dark, did you send a sample to be analyzed?
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Old 08-22-2019, 06:16 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by hillbilly3 View Post
I had a long time transmission guy tell me, unless its burnt, never change the fluid. Most use synthetic now days. As most shops just flush it, but don't change the filter, unless it is burnt, its not worth changing. Just like the old way of changing the engine oil ever 3000 miles, you are probably hurting more than helping. Everytime you change the engine oil, you are starting it with no oil pressure. I had a Tundra that is still out there, running around at 300,000 miles on a tranny that never had the transmission fluid changed. Truck had a constant 1500 lbs on it since it was new. As I said before, if it smells or looks burnt, change it, if not, your wasting your money.
That is just plain horrible advice. After 34 years as a professional tech I have heard this "argument" a few times. It's mostly from old crusty dudes set in their ways and uninterested in actual theory of operation.

One cannot go by fluid color or smell anymore for deciding fluid replacement time. WS fluid as used in many Toyotas gets brownish rather soon and smells odd. Some Ford ATF fluids turn brown and can even smell "burnt" in as little as 20 000km, doesn't mean it is toast yet.

Using logic a good tech/shopowner can schedule fluid and filter replacements according to usage. I did the first fluid and filter drop on my then new to me truck at 100 000km. After a few very tough trips with lots of shifting action I replaced fluid only at 140 000km or so and am planning fluid only again at 173 000 km since it has worked hard and loaded. I will do the pan drop with fluid at 200 000-220 000 km.

If fluid is really burnt it is too late. Old fluid cakes on varnish on shift valves and such, really not ideal. Do what you want with yours but don't recommend this for others.
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Old 08-22-2019, 06:27 AM   #13
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I own two vehicles that the manufacture says the fluid is lifetime and never needs changed, (2013 Sonata, 2017 Camry). My thoughts are, Yah, thats probably good to get the vehicle past 100 - 150k, but I run my vehicles out past 300k. So I'll change at 50k intervals.

I changed the filter and flushed with fresh fluid at 50k miles. The old fluid looked like 77Travco's photos, very dark, but no burn smell.

I also change filter and flush on 1999 Ford F53 at 50k mile interval. I do whats called a cooler return line flush, my 4R100 transmission takes about 5 gallons to do this.

F53 – Transmission filter change and flush – 1999 Southwind 35S


Valvoline ATF Synthetic is compatible with all my vehicles, so its what I've used for years.
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Old 08-22-2019, 06:47 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waiter21 View Post
I own two vehicles that the manufacture says the fluid is lifetime and never needs changed, (2013 Sonata, 2017 Camry). My thoughts are, Yah, thats probably good to get the vehicle past 100 - 150k, but I run my vehicles out past 300k. So I'll change at 50k intervals.

I changed the filter and flushed with fresh fluid at 50k miles. The old fluid looked like 77Travco's photos, very dark, but no burn smell.

I also change filter and flush on 1999 Ford F53 at 50k mile interval. I do whats called a cooler return line flush, my 4R100 transmission takes about 5 gallons to do this.

F53 Transmission filter change and flush 1999 Southwind 35S


Valvoline ATF Synthetic is compatible with all my vehicles, so its what I've used for years.
I would be careful with that Valvoline fluid. It will generally be ok for many late 90s, early 2000s vehicles but it does not meet all specs on newer stuff. Valvoline is one of the weasels that gets away with specifying "is suitable for use in" or "meets xxx protection specs" while ignoring a bunch of other important fluid characteristics. They make people feel it is fine in almost anything, which it just cannot be.
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