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Old 05-27-2013, 08:58 AM   #1
National RV Owners Club
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Citrus Heights, CA
Posts: 54
Fluids and Filters For 1996 Dolphin

1996 Dolphin 535-S with 460 Ford. I'm changing all the fluids before I take out on a road trip for the first time since I bought it. Is this considered an F-53 chassis? What are the fluid capacities and filter numbers for transmission fluid and oil, any recommendations as to which oil and tranny fluid to use? Also what is the antifreeze capacity and what type do you recommend. It has approx 42k miles and has sat in storage for the last 8 years.

Lee & Patti
Our English Bulldog Family...Pickles, Stuart and Lucas
1996 National Dolphin 535-S
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Old 05-28-2013, 01:24 PM   #2
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Forest River Owners Club
Ford Super Duty Owner
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Vaughn, WA
Posts: 1,426
You can easily find your part numbers on line using one of the online parts suppliers like RockAuto.com or a local supplier with an online catalog. Make sure their listing choices includes the F53 chassis.

Be sure to replace your fuel filter. It is located on the frame rail, driver's side, about 3' back from the front wheel. You'll need a Ford fuel line release tool to pull the fuel lines out of the gas filter.

Trans fluid was originally Mercon/Dexron and you would be fine with that but Ford updated the spec to Mercon V (five) which is a synth blend and holds up longer. Your tranny -should- have a drain plug on the torque converter. Remove the rubber plug on the bottom of the bellhousing and rotate the engine until the drain bolt appears.

BIG MUST DO! Flush your brake system with new fluid. Brakes are so very important in these behemoths and the fluid should be replaced every 2 years. If there is any other signs of trouble or "pedal to the floor" just replace all components.

Here's the download to your chassis manual with capacities and more:
iRV2 Forums - Files - 96_F53_ChassisManual.pdf

1995 Coachmen Santara 360MB 36' w/slide.
Ford F53/460 chassis, 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee "toad"
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Old 05-28-2013, 01:38 PM   #3
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The oil filter is a Motorcraft FL-1A, it is big. I wish more engines would still use it. The capacity I believe is 6 quarts of 10-30. Ford did update the oil specs to 5-20 but I felt better with a slightly thicker oil due to the smaller rod bearings.

The transmission now has been updated to Mercon V. I just drain the trans pan, over fill the trans run it for a few minutes and then redrain, then refill. I do this twice and you can even drive it around the block to try and push out the old fluid from the clutch drums. I don't have the trans filter number off hand but unless there is a failure with the trans, the filter does not need to be replaced. There is nothing that produces debris in the trans like an internal combustion engine. If there is excessive clutch wear, then there are more issues than a fluid change. Changing the filter is not a bad thing, but generally not necessary.

Another thing is flush out the P/S fluid. It also is Mercon V. Power steering fluid seems to get darker a lot faster than the trans fluid.

I also change out my rear diff fluid. Not based on mileage but based on age of the fluid. My chassis is 10 years old and that is something that just makes me feel better. I believe the service interval is 100K but again, I will have to double check on that.

Don't forget about the fuel filter either. That needs to be done every 20-30K.

Spark plugs are rated for the 460 to be changed every 30K. Due to age of the motorhome, I would replace the plugs, wires, and cap/rotor. Due yourself a huge favor and spend the little extra $ and get genuine Motorcraft parts. Money well spent for a reliable vacation. Seen enough aftermarket stuff cause issues to stay away from them.

This chassis (F53) came with green coolant. Most coolants now are an orange/gold color and rated for all colors.
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