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Old 09-04-2009, 11:29 PM   #1
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Transmission fluid

Hi all.

I was wondering if anyone could help me out with something. I'm looking to purchase a commercial (coach) bus. The bus has an Allison B500 transmission in it. As the bus is located states away from where I am, I've taken 3 trips down there to see the bus. On the 3rd trip, I took two of my friends (who both drive commercial buses, one owns his own and maintains it) down to examine the bus and see if there were any unmentioned flaws in it.

Anyway, after looking at the transmission fluid, red flags went up in both of their heads. The transmission fluid was yellow and what they described as gritty. I was told by the bus owners and their place they go for maintenance on the bus that the fluid breaks down, from the reddish color I've always known transmission fluid to be, to different colors. I've never heard of transmission fluid being yellow, and I know it being gritty is in itself bad.

Should I stay away from this bus because of it, or is it not that big of a deal? New transmissions run upwards of $7500 and that's an expense I'm not willing to incur within even a year or two of buying the bus when I supposedly bought it clean of any problems.

Any explanation of my problem would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for reading and any help you may provide.
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Old 09-04-2009, 11:44 PM   #2
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Sounds like their maintenance shop was not doing their job. I would stay away from that one.

Mike
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Old 09-05-2009, 06:47 AM   #3
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Hi JSmith2009,
Before you walk away, speak to the seller about your concern. See what the seller has to say. Once you hear the answer and any additional questions have been answered, then make your decision.
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Old 09-05-2009, 07:56 AM   #4
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Tell the owner that you would like to take a sample of the fluid and have it analyzed. Take it to a commercial truck service center and they can send it away for the tests.

You could make your decision based on the results.
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Old 09-05-2009, 09:32 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryKD View Post
Hi JSmith2009,
Before you walk away, speak to the seller about your concern. See what the seller has to say. Once you hear the answer and any additional questions have been answered, then make your decision.
Of course I've done that. They swear up and down there's no problems with it. The transmission was rebuilt/new in Sept. 2006. Now, the problem I then have is on the maintenance reports, in December of '06, it's listed there was "transmission work" done. Doesn't describe what was done, so it's another thing I'm weary of.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Stewart
Tell the owner that you would like to take a sample of the fluid and have it analyzed. Take it to a commercial truck service center and they can send it away for the tests.

You could make your decision based on the results.
I asked for the bus to be sent to their service center (it's the closest one that lists the ability to service B500 transmissions) and they looked at the transmission "free hand" (without any analyzing or tests, etc.) and they say it's perfectly fine. Of course, then they say in the next breath that they can't put anything in writing because it wasn't in their shop or hooked up to computers for any "useful" results. Yeah, right.

About the fluid test, I asked for that to be done, but they seemed to come up with an excuse. They said that if they do the dipstick test and send it away for the tests, the results come back all garbled up. They said, quite literally, the only way you could read the results were if you were an engineer. This made (makes) no sense to me as if they're sending it away for the tests to an engineer, I don't understand why in the world would they send it back in "engineer-form". I'm guessing this isn't true. Would anyone like to elaborate on this for me?

Thanks!
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Old 09-05-2009, 10:23 AM   #6
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I send stuff off for oil analysis all the time , sounds like they're not wanting it done ..

Doesnt come back "all garbled" , tells whats in the oil and at what level the contaminants are present , and what the acceptable limits are on the contaminants ...

Sounds like you maybe should walk away on this one ..

To me , if there's nothing to hide , there shouldnt be a problem sending the oil off to be analyzed ..

BTW , without actually seeing it , yellow sounds like water contamination ..
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Old 09-05-2009, 11:34 AM   #7
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Old 09-05-2009, 12:00 PM   #8
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It is time to walk away from this coach.
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Old 09-06-2009, 01:38 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSmith2009 View Post
Hi all.

I was wondering if anyone could help me out with something. I'm looking to purchase a commercial (coach) bus. The bus has an Allison B500 transmission in it. As the bus is located states away from where I am, I've taken 3 trips down there to see the bus. On the 3rd trip, I took two of my friends (who both drive commercial buses, one owns his own and maintains it) down to examine the bus and see if there were any unmentioned flaws in it.

Anyway, after looking at the transmission fluid, red flags went up in both of their heads. The transmission fluid was yellow and what they described as gritty. I was told by the bus owners and their place they go for maintenance on the bus that the fluid breaks down, from the reddish color I've always known transmission fluid to be, to different colors. I've never heard of transmission fluid being yellow, and I know it being gritty is in itself bad.

Should I stay away from this bus because of it, or is it not that big of a deal? New transmissions run upwards of $7500 and that's an expense I'm not willing to incur within even a year or two of buying the bus when I supposedly bought it clean of any problems.

Any explanation of my problem would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for reading and any help you may provide.
i suggest that tell them you will pay for oil analysis. if they balk at this, walk away.
then order an oil analysis kit from an AMSOIL dealer (about $35) and do it yourself. the easiest way to get a sample (not the best) is to siphon oil from the fill tube. don't trust them to not open a new can of fluid and send it in for analysis.
you will get a readout that is thorough and easy to understand.
if it does have tranny problems, lower your offer price 10-15k.
if you buy it, don't take it to those folks to be repaired.
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Old 09-06-2009, 12:43 PM   #10
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Send your own sample to Blackstone Laboratories their reports are easy to understand and they are one of the forums adverisers.
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Old 09-06-2009, 01:27 PM   #11
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yep Blackstone is who I use as well
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Old 09-12-2009, 03:09 PM   #12
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You can view a sample Blackstone transmission test report here:
Transmission

It won't say "Good" or "Bad" transmission - it just tells you what is in the fluid and some comparison to average or typical contents. You can decide if it is meaningful or not.
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