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Old 05-25-2018, 11:00 AM   #1
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Too high / too low / too high

Sometime back, I changed out the transmission fluid on my 2005 Itasca on a W20 chassis with the 5-speed Allison transmission. When I drained the fluid, I used a 5-gallon bucket with markings so I could see exactly how much drained out and then replaced the same quantity back into the transmission. But... I wasn't smart enough to realize that since the fluid was hot when I drained it, it gave me a false quantity, so the end result is I over-filled it. I eventually took some fluid out with an air-powered oil vacuum/extractor and of course took too much out. I then tried to top it off, only to over-fill it again.

My question is this: to get me in the ballpark, where on the dipstick should the transmission fluid be on a cold engine and not starting the engine at all? It's a crummy picture but you can see that after sitting for a couple of weeks, pulling the dipstick out shows the current level all the way up to the bend in the dipstick. Seems to be way overfilled... I bought a hand-pump style oil vacuum and would like to slowly remove what ever fluid that gets me to a close level, then I can drive the motorhome and take some 'hot' readings to finalize the correct level. Maybe someone here has some sort of reference of how much fluid is in the pan based on where the level shows on the dipstick.

Thank you for any advice to help me out here. -RT
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Old 05-25-2018, 11:52 AM   #2
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Sorry, can't see the dipstick clearly enough. Are there no markings on the dipstick as to where full is or it's safe zone is? No line or hash marks? Also, it often it says right on the dipstick if it should be checked cold or at operating temperature. Other than that check your chassis manual.

Edit: looking at the photo again there appears to be a darker colored band just up from the end of the twist. I'm wondering if thats the minimum/maximum safe zone.
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Old 05-25-2018, 12:13 PM   #3
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Trans fluid should always be checked while it is hot, vehicle level and engine running...period. You will get different reading all over the chart if you don't do this. There should be data available online or in owner's manual for your specific model as to capacities.
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Old 05-25-2018, 05:11 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funding Fun View Post
Trans fluid should always be checked while it is hot, vehicle level and engine running...period. You will get different reading all over the chart if you don't do this. There should be data available online or in owner's manual for your specific model as to capacities.
When you say it should be checked hot are you referring to this particular motorhome or any vehicle with an automatic tranny? For the sake of others who might be reading this I've had cars where it said it could be checked cold with only 60 seconds of run time then use the appropriate marks on the dip stick. Cheers.
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Old 05-26-2018, 10:20 AM   #5
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I think that 60 seconds option is an alternative for a time sensitive situation. I would read the manual or call Detroit/Allison CS. The fluid expands when hot and that's the true full. operating level. Checking cold can cause an overfill and leaking or excessive seal pressure issues.
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Old 05-27-2018, 01:11 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by 60sumtin View Post
Sorry, can't see the dipstick clearly enough. Are there no markings on the dipstick as to where full is or it's safe zone is? No line or hash marks? Also, it often it says right on the dipstick if it should be checked cold or at operating temperature. Other than that check your chassis manual.

Edit: looking at the photo again there appears to be a darker colored band just up from the end of the twist. I'm wondering if thats the minimum/maximum safe zone.
There are the appropriate markings on the dipstick. Since I know it’s overfilled, I’m looking for information as to just how much over-full it is. On a cold engine that has not been started, if the fluid level is all the way up to the bends in the dipstick, how much fluid needs to be removed? I know that it can’t be grossly overfilled, but it does seem really high on the dipstick. Since the fluid expands when it gets hot, the current reading makes it look like I over filled by a couple of quarts, but that’s not possible. I’m hoping that someone could give a refeference to movement on the dipstick in relation to ounces or cups. For example, if I wanted it to drop by 2” on the dipstick, how much fluid must I remove? -RT
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Old 05-28-2018, 06:14 AM   #7
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Don't think there is any way to check it without running the engine. Allison provides a cold check procedure but it requires running the engine and a should be followed with a hot check.

Drain a quart then do a cold check to see if you're in the ball park. Better to be low on fluid as long as you're not driving around.
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Old 05-29-2018, 05:13 AM   #8
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I understand what you're getting at. How much fluid equals one inch on the dipstick kind of a question.
There is no published number like that. I've heard folks say what they thought one quart equated to on the dipstick but those are only approximations based on experience with one transmission in one vehicle usually.

When the engine off, the torque converter drains back into the transmission sump and the fluid goes way high on the dipstick. This is normal.
The fluid has to be checked with the engine running.
I would suggest if you think you are overfull, put a clean pan under the transmission. Remove the drain plug and drain about one quart. Put the plug back in and start the engine. Repeat until you have a good cold check(the oil level is in the cold run band if your dipstick has one).
Then drive the vehicle to get it good and warm and do a hot level check which is the most accurate way to set the fluid level. Add or drain as necessary.
Always check your transmission fluid level in an Allison with the engine running. Most automatic transmissions require this.
I know there are some transmissions (mostly transaxles) out there with different requirements but the Allison is just like most others. Engine running, operating temperature, level ground.
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Old 05-29-2018, 05:25 AM   #9
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Due to fluid drain back with engine shut off fluid engine must be running to check correct level and will read over full when engine off. Before start engine, mark the stick where fluid is now then draw off 1 pint and mark stick again do this again and mark the stick to see how much the level changes with 1 pint or 1 quart added or removed. Now start engine wait 1 - 2 minutes for oil pump to fill all passages then measure. Add or remove fluid until level is close to the Add line. This should give you adequate fluid to test drive to get fluid warm without risk of major over fill when warm.
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Old 05-29-2018, 07:37 AM   #10
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The Allison "cold check" is for the commercial DOT "walk around" inspection required by drivers on daily basis for buses and commercial trucks, etc. At least they know the fluid level is reasonably OK before starting engine. As stated many times here by many, the engine must be running and the trans fluid must be at operating temperature in order to get it exactly right. Somewhere there should be some reference to a normal "cold level". call your local Detroit-Allison service center...they have service centers all over the country.
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Old 05-29-2018, 08:02 AM   #11
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Too high / too low / too high

They are hard to read IMO even when hot. I like post #9ís suggestion. A drive with it a little low to check it hot is what I have done. Carry fluid and means to fill it and just pull into a large parking lot to check and fill.
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Old 05-30-2018, 06:31 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funding Fun View Post
The Allison "cold check" is for the commercial DOT "walk around" inspection required by drivers on daily basis for buses and commercial trucks, etc. At least they know the fluid level is reasonably OK before starting engine. As stated many times here by many, the engine must be running and the trans fluid must be at operating temperature in order to get it exactly right. Somewhere there should be some reference to a normal "cold level". call your local Detroit-Allison service center...they have service centers all over the country.
The Allison manual that came with our MH describes the cold check procedure. I used it when I changed fluid to make sure I was in the ball park before driving it around to do a hot check.
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Old 05-30-2018, 12:21 PM   #13
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I would like to say thank-you for all the good advice. I bought a light-duty manual oil extractor and will simply take out maybe two cups of fluid at a time after driving ten or more miles. Probably will take a few attempts but tired of the going too far either removing too much and then overfilling trying ti get it right. This is the second fluid change after going to full-synthetic, so I'm close to the end of this project. -RT
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Old 06-13-2018, 10:05 PM   #14
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Did you ever get it filled correctly?
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