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'02 Exploerer Transmission Fluid Change

Discussion in 'General Explorations!!' started by rgiles, October 28, 2002.

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    1. rgiles

      rgiles Active Member

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      Ok, the 02 Explorer doesn't have a dipstick to check the tranny level so they have a different way of changing the fluid. I have read up on what's involved and it doesn't seem to difficult to do, but was curious if anyone with an '02 has done this or not? Did previous models have the same ATF change approach?

      The basic steps are:

      1) Drain the pan (Simple unscrew of a bolt)
      2) Drain the Torque Converter if it has a plug (Not sure if it has one)
      3) Fill it back up through the same hole it was drained (there is a plug within a plug). When fluid stops running out it is full. (This is tested after running the care and placing it into all gears like a normal fluid change)
      4) Add an inline filter if it doesn't have one, or change it if it does (Don't know if it has one or not)

      The trick is since there isn't a dip stick to measure, the car has to be level to guarantee that it has been filled properly. They require a special guage that you screw into the drain hole to make sure it's level before filling. Also you need an adapter to screw into the hole to fill it.

      Anyone worked on one of these type of transmissions and did your own change? I really would like to do this if I can so I can change the fluid more regularly than the 30k mile requirement without breaking the bank. Also, where to mount the external inline filter if it doesn't have one?

      Thanks
      _______________________________
      '02 Explorer Limited (Stock w/ < 1000 miles)
      '91 Explorer XLT (Stock, original owner, 89k miles)
       
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    3. DesertSpive

      DesertSpive Active Member

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      The 2002 Explorer doen't have a dipstick because the tranny is sealed for with synthetic fluid for 150,000 miles. There was big thread on this a while back.

      --Sean
       
    4. SaleenEXP

      SaleenEXP Well-Known Member

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      Good luck trying to work on one, like DesertSpive said they are completley sealed and don't need a fluid change for 150,000 miles. I wouldn't worry about it at all, b/c Ford did an awsome job on the new 5 speeds and they can handle a sh!t load of power, you'd be suprised at the hp and tq they will hold w/o a problem. The older 5 speed unit can't even compare to it.
       
    5. rgiles

      rgiles Active Member

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      My service manual says that it requires 30,000 mile tranny fluid change so where does this 100,000 or 150k number come from?
       
    6. DesertSpive

      DesertSpive Active Member

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      Your service manual may be outdated or possibly talking about the Sport and Sport Trac Explorers, or maybe a manual transmission. But if you look under the truck, you will see a sticker that tells you not change the fluid. The number of miles was highly publicised during the '02 Ex introduction and has been confirmed by another member in a different thread by his dealer.

      --Sean
       
    7. rgiles

      rgiles Active Member

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      I called my dealer and they change the transmission fluid at 30,000. I didn't ask if it would be out of warantee if I didn't change it so you could be right, but I will play it safe and replace it for the longevity of the transmission.
       
    8. rgiles

      rgiles Active Member

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      Today I did an experiment in preparation of adding an external transmission filter. I wanted to make certain I could refill the transmission with confidence according to the service manual.

      I can report that I was successful, but I'm not totally confident in the process yet - read on if interested.

      The '02 Explorer indeed has a drain plug and a fill plug/hole both on the bottom of the pan. I didn't pull the drain plug, just the fill plug. The fill plug is removed using a small 3/16" star key (I think that's the correct size). Interesting enough the service guide says it would be a hex key, not a star. I was surprised when I removed the fill plug when a bunch of ATF came streaming out. I dind't really expect that given the description of the fill process. It slowed down to a bubbly drip shortly thereafter and I put the plug back in. I went ahead and measured the total quantity of fluid that came out and it was around 12-13 Oz - just shy of 1 pint.

      At this point I was a bit concerned because I realized I wouldn't be able to get the same amount of fluid back in the transmission based upon the way the pipe stand is designed to drain off excess while it's idling. I believe the factory does an overfill of about this much fluid. The factory uses a fill plug higher up on the side of the tranny so the leve isn't regulated by the height of the pipe stand in that case.

      I decided to drive it around getting tools and supplies that would be required to do a complete flush and refill of the transmission. I read how someone else did it in another thread, but can't find it so had to rely on memory. This design was based upon this other thread. (Edit: I found the link: ?Weed Sprayer Design )

      You basically need a pump, and an adapter that allows the pump hose to connect to the fill plug. I used a cheap plastic weed sprayer from Home Depot for the pump, and I used a 1/8" NPT with a nipple on one end and threads on the other. This screwed into the fill hole. Getting the pump ready required getting 3 differnt sizes of clear plastic tubing also from Home Depot. The three sizes were 3/4, 1/2, and 3/8. I needed the 3/4 to connect to the sprayer nozzle, the 1/2 slid inside the 3/4 and the 3/8 slid inside the 1/2. The 3/8 connected to the nipple of the adapter that screws into the filler plug. The pieces were only around 4" in length except for the 3/8", it was long enough to reach under the vehicle, probably around 3 1/2 feel long. All of the clear plastic tubing was on the non pressurized side of the nozzle, so when the trigger was pressed, ATF would flow into it.

      I decided to see if I could fill up the transmission with any additional fluid with this setup. I poured 1 quart of Valvoline Durablend Mercon V in the tank of the sprayer and pumped up the pressure. I started the engine, removed the filler plug, and screwed the 1/8" adapter into the filler plug. I attached the clear tubing of the spray bottle and began pumping fluid into the trnansmission. It dumped around 1 pint into the transmission in around 15 seconds.

      Now it was time to remove the adapter and plug the hole. I couldn't remove the plastic tube from the adapter, so I had to cut it off with a razor. I quickly removed the adapter and replaced the plug. I think most of the fluid I put back in just ran back out, so I believe it was as full as it was going to get.

      My biggest concern is that it is around 1 pint less than the factory fill. I suppose this isn't a problem, but I would have more confidence if it wasn't lower than before. Next I will add the external filter now that I know I can fill the transmission based upon this procedure. After that I will do a complete drain and refill with 100% synthetic fluid.

      Any comments
       
      Last edited: November 4, 2002
    9. Rscotts1

      Rscotts1 Elite Explorer

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      The transmission fluid on the 2002's is good for 150,000 miles. I applaud you for having enough guts to tackle this job yourself, but feel that it was really uneccessary. Running your transmission low on fluid might cause some problems. Other members on this site can probably give you more insight on this. As for myself, I plan on leaving the transmission alone and if I feel it needs service, will take it into Ford.
       
    10. rgiles

      rgiles Active Member

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      Yes I may be going overboard here and I certainly can understand why many wouldn't want to do this. Here is my rationale for what its worth:

      1) My 91 Explorer Transmission died at 80k so I have every intention of giving this tranny the best care.
      2) Even if the fluid will last 150k, there's no way that I would run it that long anyway. My Ford dealer recommends changing the tranny fluid every 30k, and so does my service manual.
      3) If I have the Ford dealer change it, it will cost $430 (this includes all of the other things they do at 30k which is mostly inspections). I will be able to save money and use Synthetic while I'm at it.
      4) I am adding an external filter anyway, so need to be able to deal with the fluid check and add process. I'm adding filter because of item 1.
      5) I am adding a temp guage, and will do oil analysis at the 30k Interval to see if I need to do a flush. This will be very easy once the external filter is installed. I will change the external filter every 20 or 30k.

      Now I could really be blowing it here but I'm willing to take the risk. If Ford built this thing well, and my servicing it doesn't adversely affect it, I figure this transmission will last over 150,000 miles which will be a huge improvement over my 91 and many others on this board. In a few years we should start seeing how reliable these 5R55s trannys are, and possibly see if there are any differences between those that service it every 30k and those that wait for 150k.

      Thanks for the comments :)
       
    11. Opera House

      Opera House Well-Known Member

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      Not enough is known

      about the new no dipstick transmissions yet. After we figure them out, I'm sure that the drain plug will make a fluid change even easier. Not sure if some special plug adaptor will make it even easier. I'd be willing to make a pump to do it this way. In another year or two, there will be all sorts of mod kits - bubble levels to stick on the pan, remote fill and check tubes, etc. I predict a large market for these things. I admit, I've developed a little irreverence for transmissions. Your first transmission didn't die because of fluid or your rebuild either. I see only downside to doing something now. I only buy repo vehicles with poor maintenance at over 100K and still expect to get another 100K out of them.
       
    12. DesertSpive

      DesertSpive Active Member

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      I agree 100%. It sealed for a reason. And it is a updated design, you can't compare it to your old A4LD (completely different). Plus, your dealer is not only incorrect by changing the fluid, but they are getting uneccessary money out of their customers. Make sure that your dealer is aware that you are speaking about a 2002 Explorer 4 door. Sometimes they are too busy to listen...

      --Sean
       
    13. rgiles

      rgiles Active Member

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      This thing is "sealed " only in the fact it can't breath through an open dip stick, bit it still has a drain plug, a pan and a fill hole.

      I am doing the exact same fill procedure defined by the Ford Service manual that all dealers use for thiis tranmsission, so my only concern would be if the instructions are incorrect, but I don't think they are.

      I have read somewhere that one peson did the 30,000 mile at a Ford dealer and they did change the fluid on his. He wasn't happy when he heard on the message boards that it probably didn't need to be changed either.
       
    14. rgiles

      rgiles Active Member

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      Re: Not enough is known

      I agree it might not have been because of fluid, but I certainly didn't change the fluid religiously either. Also, if the fluid ever gets hot once, I've heard it severely reduces the life of the transmission due to the breakdown of the oil. Tha'ts why I'm flushing with synthetic for the added protection.

      The adapter I used was a standard item in any plumbing department. The bigges problem is it was designed to grip the hose, and would have been better if it was tapered and smoth.

      BTW what possible downside could there be to changing the fluid now?
       
    15. Explorer46L

      Explorer46L Active Member

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      So how many miles are on your 02 that you are changing the tranny fluid? How often do you change your engine oil?
       
    16. Runnin'OnEmpty

      Runnin'OnEmpty Well-Known Member

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      Rgiles, what type of filter are you planning on using? Summit sells a kit that uses a standard spin-on filter, that also has a temp sender fitting. It looks like a nice one.....
       
    17. rgiles

      rgiles Active Member

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      Explorer46L, I have less than 1000 miles on the car right now, but I'm setting it up for the long term now. I know it doesn't need it changed right now, but I want to get it setup for Synthetic and see how long it's going to last (I keep my vehicles for a long time). I change my engine oil at the "Normal" condition schedule which form my cars is 5000 miles. I've just switched to synthetic oil and will be running my older cars at 7500, and the 02 X at 5000 because of warrantee issues.

      Runnin'OnEmpty - I purchased the Summit Perma-Cool external tranny filter that uses standard spin on Oil filters. I will probably change the filters at around 15000 miles and will be running Amsoil synthetic ATF for probably around 75000 miles before flushing unless I do some towing which I don't forsee a bunch of that. I will use the temp sending fitting to attach a gauge to monitor the temp. Once setup, flushing the transmission will be very simple because I will only need to spin off the filter and pump fluid in the tranny while idling. The perma cool comes with a filter that I will use for a few hundred miles, then I will switch to a high quality filter such as K&N, Mobile 1 or Amsoil. Haven't decided on that yet.

      For the '02 transmission fluid levelling procedure, it's important to monitor the temperature. Since I want to service my own transmission changes, I needed the temp sensor.
       
    18. 4.0SOHC

      4.0SOHC Member

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      That was me, and when they changed the trans. fluid, they did it through the cooler just like any transmission fluid change.

      I am with you, Ford used Mercon V in the new 02 X's and to my knowledge, it is the same Mercon V as used in older X's, I plan on doing changes every 30 K. It never hurts.

      Although, I really wish I could check the fluid levels, I don't trust the folks that changed mine.
       
    19. rgiles

      rgiles Active Member

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      If they changed it through the cooler lines then it's possible they overfilled it. It would be easy to check the level, but you need to be prepared to add fluid if necessary.

      To check, just make sure the fluid temp is around 80-120 degrees and idling. They say if you have driven for 30 minutes and let it cool for 30 minutes, it's probably at about that temp. Place something to catch the fluid and remove the center plug using a star key. When the fluid is dribbling out then plug it up. You can be sure that it is full and not overfilled. Of course the vehicle must be on level ground. If none comes out, then you need to add until it runs back out.

      I don't trust anyone anymore either when it comes to basic maintainence. Usually overcharge, and don't care nearly as much as you do. If they overfill it you won't know until 40,000 miles later when you start having tranny problems.
       
    20. rgiles

      rgiles Active Member

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      Don't Try this at home!!!

      Some will think I'm brave, others will think I'm dumb, and quite frankly I think both could be right ;).

      Ok, so I added an external transmission filter like I was planning, a perma-cool oil spin on filter type. All was going well until I gave it a test drive, and got it up to around 70mph on the freeway. One of the hoses blew off and lost my transmission fluid. Fortunately I was able to get off of the road and turn off the engine before any damage to the transmission. What a mess. I had ATF all along the side of the vehicle.

      After about 1 3/4 hours the tow truck shows up and tows me home. I made sure I washed off the ATF really good and then called it a night. That was yesterday.

      This mornning I got an early start and I contemplated why it blew off (it was the hose attached to the out spigot). My conclusion is two reasons. The most obvious was that the hose clamp wasn't tight enough, but I can't be sure on that one. The 2nd reason I concluded was that the Hose had a bend in it that would have created about a 6" radius circle. I think this was too much pressure to change directions all at once.

      After realizing this I had a decision to make, go back to stock without a filter, or find a new route for the hose. I chose the later (cross your fingers). THe new route allowed the hose bends that are closer to 8-10" diameter. This isn't ideal, but I'm not sure how to get much better than this.

      This time I doubled every single hose clamp for added protection. I'm not chancing it this time with a single clamp.

      When I finally got ready to add ATF, I pulled the plug and nothing came out :( Ok so the pan was sucked dry but when I pulled over there was still some fluid coming out of the blown hose but was sure hoping no damage was done. Added fresh AMSOIL ATF fluid (this stuff looks and smells quite a bit different than the stock stuff) and started her up.

      Note, I pumped in around 12 quarts of fluid, and when I went to make sure it was level, I got around 5 quarts draining back out of the pan (remember '02 fill procedure here). So my conclusion is that there was still around 6 quarts of fluid in the transmission which is a good sign.

      So far so good after taking it for a test drive, however I will be nervous for the next week or so until it proves sound. I think the double hose clamps should hold here.

      Thanks for listening!

      BTW, when I drained some of the fluid before the accident, there was flakes of material in the fluid. I'm guessing this is just stuff that comes off from the factory. For this reason, I'm glad I have external filtering. I mean people like to drain the oil on a new engine after a few hundred miles, I guess it is a good idea to do it on the transmission too?
       
    21. Opera House

      Opera House Well-Known Member

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      I think we all should

      cut our hair, don a white safron robe, and sell pictures of you at the airport. Why? Because you have no fear. I said no good could come from it! Just be sure the fluid feeds in the outside of the filter. I had an accident once and when I installed my bumper a week later I found the cooler hose was totally kinked. Other than that, was it fun? We'll get you rebuilding that other transmission too.
       
    22. aldive

      aldive Elite In Memoriam

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      When you change ythe spin on filter, cut it open and see if anything is in it.

      Further, since you saw particulate matter, I would chamge the spin on filter NOW.

      Good luck....
       
    23. rgiles

      rgiles Active Member

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      Opera House, You told me so :) I was beginning to think of the old saying "If it aint broke don't fix it!"

      Aldive, I changed the filter, so I'm on my 2nd one. I didn't care for the Peram-Cool filter that came with the kit, so I'm using a K&N Filter now. How did you route the hose on your external? are there any changes in direction?
       
    24. aldive

      aldive Elite In Memoriam

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      Both of my hoses bend in a failly tight radius. I have had no problems whatsoever.
       
    25. rgiles

      rgiles Active Member

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      Aldive, I'm happy to hear that! I feel much better now, and think my problem was simply not a tight enough hose clamp. Using two is a good idea I think based upon my experience.
       
    26. aldive

      aldive Elite In Memoriam

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      Using two clamosin reverse directions is a standard procedure in marine applications and is always a prudent thing to do in an auto application.

      Good luck......
       

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