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5R55W Fluid Fill

Discussion in 'Transmissions & Transfer Cases' started by FordSploderXLT, October 9, 2004.

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    1. BrooklynBay

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    3. BrooklynBay

      BrooklynBay Moderator & long time member. Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      This is a reprint of that article:

      Automatic Transmission Fluid.

      By Larry Carley C2006

      Watch out for "pink stink," the burned odor that indicates trouble inside an automatic transmission.

      The next time you check the fluid level in an automatic, sniff the fluid on the end of the dip stick. If it smells like burned toast and/or has a discolored brown appearance, the fluid has cooked itself and is no longer capable of providing proper lubrication to the transmission. If you're lucky, you may have caught the problem before serious damage has been done -- but more often than not by the time the fried fluid is discovered, the transmission is also toast.

      Compared to motor oil, ATF has live pretty easy. There's no soot, gasoline or condensation from combustion blowby to contaminate the fluid. The only physical contaminants the fluid must deal with are particles that wear off the friction plates, gears and bearings inside the transmission. Most transmissions have some type of internal filter to keep the fluid clean. Some do a pretty good job, but others don't. Most Asian transmissions only have a plastic or metal strainer that can only trap the larger pieces of debris. The rest circulates with the fluid and accelerates wear. Changing the fluid is the only way to get rid of these contaminants.

      Heat is the main concern for ATF. Automatic transmissions create a lot of friction, and friction produces heat. The fluid is constantly churning inside the torque converter and being pumped through metering orifices and hydraulic circuits. Every time the transmission shifts gears, the clutch packs generate even more heat that must be carried away by the fluid. The greater the load on the transmission, the more heat it generates and the hotter the fluid gets.

      Most ATF can withstand normal operating temperatures of around 200 degrees F for tens of thousands of miles. But if the temperature of the fluid rises above 220 degrees F the fluid starts to break down quickly. Above 300 degrees, fluid life is measured in hundreds, not thousands of miles. And above 400 degrees, the fluid can self-destruct in 20 to 30 minutes!

      ATF contains ingredients to improve its oxidation stability as well as other additives to reduce foaming and inhibit corrosion. Over time, the protective additives can also break down causing the fluid's lubrication properties and viscosity to change for the worse. That's why fluid breakdown is the leading cause of transmission operating problems and failure. Most experts still recommend changing the fluid and filter every 2 to 3 years or 24,000 to 36,000 miles -- or once a year or every 15,000 miles if a vehicle is used for towing or other severe service use.

      FLUID CHECKS.

      The first thing to check is the fluid level. For an automatic transmission to function normally, the fluid level must be between the "full" and "add" marks on the dipstick. If the fluid level is low, the transmission may slip or engage slowly. If the level is too high, the fluid can become mixed with air (aerated) causing shifting problems, slippage and noise.

      Check the level when the transmission is hot. On most vehicles this is done with the engine idling and the transmission in Park. Moving the gear selector through each gear position prior to checking the level will help assure an accurate reading.

      Under normal driving conditions, a transmission should not use any fluid. A low level, therefore, usually indicates a leak. A visual inspection of the pan gasket and driveshaft seals will tell you where the fluid is going.

      Next, check for fluid oxidation. The sniff test is a good one, but a "blotter test' is even better. Put a few drops of ATF on a clean paper towel. Wait 30 seconds, then examine the spot. If the fluid has spread out and is pink, red or even light brown in color, the fluid is in satisfactory condition. But if the spot hasn't spread out and is dark brown in color, the ATF is oxidized and should be changed.

      If the fluid has a milky brown appearance, it indicates coolant contamination. There is probably a leak in the ATF oil cooler inside the radiator that is allowing coolant to mix with the ATF. This is bad news, and needs to be repaired immediately.

      If the fluid is full of bubbles or is foamy, the transmission is probably overfilled with ATF. Other causes include using the wrong type of ATF or a plugged transmission vent.

      CHANGING ATF.

      The "old fashioned" way to change ATF is to drop the pan, drain the transmission, replace the filter, reinstall the pan, and refill with fresh ATF. Though better than nothing, this approach can leave up to two-thirds of the ATF trapped inside the torque converter (unless the converter has a drain plug, which few do).

      A better approach is to use equipment that either attaches to the ATF oil cooler lines or the filler tube to exchange new fluid for old. This approach will replace all of the old fluid. The filter should be changed to get rid of trapped contaminants, because a plugged filter can cause the same kind of problems as a low fluid level or low line pressure.

      Always use the type of ATF specified by the vehicle manufacturer. If you don't know, refer to the owners manual or a reference chart. The type of ATF may be specified on the transmission dipstick.

      TRANSMISSION FLUIDS.

      Over the years, there have been a confusing array of different ATF types, and specifications. Make sure the replacement fluid meets or exceeds all OEM requirements. Using the wrong type of fluid may cause transmission problems, and damage.

      Type F -- Introduced by Ford in 1967 for their automatics. Also used by Toyota.

      Type CJ -- Special Ford fluid for C6 transmissions. Similar to Dexron II. Must not be used in automatics that require Type F.

      Type H -- Another limited Ford spec that differs from both Dexron and Type F. Can be replaced with Mercon.

      Mercon -- Ford fluid introduced in 1987, very similar to Dexron II. Okay for all earlier Fords except those that require Type F.

      Mercon V -- Ford's newest type, introduced in 1997 for Ranger, Explorer V6 and Aerostar, and 1998 & up Windstar, Taurus/Sable and Continental. Must not be used in 1997 or earlier Fords.

      Dexron -- General Motors original ATF for automatics.

      Dexron II -- Improved GM formula with better viscosity control and additional oxidation inhibitors. Can be used in place of Dexron.

      Dexron IIE -- GM fluid for electronic transmissions.

      Dexron III -- Replaces Dexron IIE and adds improved oxidation and corrosion control in GM electronic automatics.

      Dexron III (H) – Improved version of Dexron III released in 2003.

      Dexron III/Saturn -- A special fluid spec for Saturns.

      Dexron-VI – For 2006 GM Hydra-Matic 6L80 6-speed rear-wheel-drive transmissions, can also be used in earlier transmissions that require Dexron III and III(H).

      Chrysler 7176 -- For Chrysler FWD transaxles.

      Chrysler 7176D (ATF+2) -- Adds improved cold temperature flow and oxidation resistance. Introduced 1997.

      Chrysler 7176E (ATF+3) -- Adds improved shear stability and uses a higher quality base oil. Required for four-speed automatics (do NOT use Dexron or Mercon as a substitute).

      Chrysler ATF+4 (ATE)– Introduced in 1998, ATF+4 is synthetic and replaces the previous ATF+3 fluid. Used primarily for 2000 and 2001 vehicles, it can also be used in earlier Chrysler transmissions (except 1999 and older minivans with 41TE/AE transmission). ATF+3 should continue to be used for 1999 and earlier minivans because of the potential for torque converter shudder during break in.

      NOTE:Chrysler ATF+4 Must always be used in vehicles that were originally filled with ATF+4. The red dye used in ATF+4 is not permanent. As the fluid ages it may become darker or appear brown in color. ATF+4 also has a unique odor that may change with age. Therefore, do not relay on the color and odor of ATF+4 to determine if the fluid needs to be changed. Follow the OEM recommended service interval.

      Chrysler ATF+5 for 2002 and newer models.

      IMPORT APPLICATIONS:

      BMW LT7114l or LA2634 -- Special forumla for BMW transmissions.

      Genuine Honda ZL ATF -- Special ATF for Honda automatics (except CVT applications).

      Mitsubishi Diamond SP-II & SP-Ill -- Special formula ATFs for Mitsubishi transmissions.

      Nissan J-Matic --– Special forumla for Nissan transmissions.

      Toyota Type T, T-III & T-IV -- Special formula ATFs for Toyota and Lexus transmissions.

      NOTE: There are a number of aftermarket synthetic ATF fluids that claim to meet numerous OEM requirements. Refer to the product label for approved applications.

      Automatics with No Dipsticks

      According to the automobile manufacturer’s research, a certain percentage of automatic transmission failures are caused by over-filling and/or using the incorrect transmission fluid. It is important to remember to NEVER over-fill the transmission assembly and to ALWAYS use the recommended transmission fluid. To discourage over-filling, some vehicle manufacturers have eliminated the dipstick on the transmission. Unfortunately, this also makes it hard to tell if the fluid level is low.

      On automatic transmissions that do not have a dipstick to check the fluid level or add fluid, a fill plug is usually located on the left side or right side of the transmission. On some, there may be a drain plug on the bottom of the transmission.

      To check the fluid level, the transmission must be warm, and the vehicle must be parked on a level surface or raised on a lift. Jacking up the front wheels will tilt the vehicle, and give an innaccurate indication of the fluid level. Therefore, all FOUR wheels must be raised off the ground and the vehicle must be properly supported by four jack stands. NEVER crawl under a vehicle unless it is safely supported by jack stands.

      When the fill plug is removed, some fluid should dribble out of the hole if the fluid is at the proper level (flush with the bottom of the fill plug hole). If no fluid comes out, add fluid to bring it up to the level of the hole.

      Below are some of the automatic transmissions that do not have a dipstick:

      • 5-SPEED 2004-UP ACURA TL, RL, RSX
      • 5L40/5L50E 2004-05 CADILLAC CATERA
      • AISIN 81-40LE 2004-05 CHEVROLET AVEO
      • 4T40/45E 1997-UP CHEVROLET CAVALIER, COBALT
      • 42RLE 2005-UP CHRYSLER 300 3.5L 2WD
      • NAG-1 2005-UP CHRYSLER 300 3.5L AWD
      • AF33 2005-UP CHEVROLET EQUINOX
      • 5R55N/S/W 2005-UP FORD CARS
      • AISIN RNJ 1998-05 ISUZU NPR DIESEL
      • ZF-6SHP-26 2005-UP LINCOLN NAVIGATOR 5.4L
      • 5F31J 2004 MAZDA MPV W/5SPD
      • N4AEL 2004 MAZDA MIATA
      • AF23 2004-05 SATURN ION
      • 4/5-Speed 2004-05 SATURN VUE
       
      Last edited: October 8, 2007
    4. Opera House

      Opera House Well-Known Member

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      I just did a drain and fill on a 5R55W. I used a threaded nylon fitting and a 1/4hp gear type electric transfer pump. It was really fast, just stuck a hose in each bottle and it sucked every last last drop out of the bottle. I never stayed so clean doing a transmission. This was basically just a test run since I will doing about 3 more times.

      There is one thing that concerns me. I drained almost exactly 2 quarts out of the pan which is much less than I expected. Is that about normal or was I down a bunch? Only had the vehicle a week and don't have any history of leaks. I put three quarts back in and haven't run it up to temperature to check level yet.

      UPDATE
      I checked the level today and then did a pan drop. As best I could measure, just draining the pan from the fill plug removes a little less than 2 3/4 quarts. Dropping the pan and removing the filter removes a maximum of about 3 1/2 quarts from the transmission. If the filter is not removed this amount is about 1/4 quart less. It appears this filter has an internal check valve which will not let fluid drain back and holds this in the filter and valve body. Reused existing gasket. The fill port is quite high on the pan and even the threaded part of the pan has a high tube section. This all appears intentional as if the gasket of the fill tube leaked, there would still be enough fluid in the pan to operate the transmission.
       
      Last edited: May 2, 2007
    5. BrooklynBay

      BrooklynBay Moderator & long time member. Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    6. F14CRAZY

      F14CRAZY To the flo...

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      If I go ahead and drop the pan and refill the 2-3 quarts that are lost, can I remove the cooler return line, run the engine for a moment to pump out maybe a quart, and refill? I'd like to get all the old oil out of the torque converter and all. Have done this with GM transaxles with success, but they have dipsticks
       
    7. Glacier991

      Glacier991 EF Tranny Guru Moderator Emeritus

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      It IS good to have you back posting again OperaHouse. Maybe you might on one of your future drain and fills photo what you are using and post it here ?
       
    8. Opera House

      Opera House Well-Known Member

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      Check, double check......
      The last drain out I drained out 2 3/4 quarts and added back 3 quarts without checking level. Figured an extra 1/4 quart wouldn't hurt and I would be adding a transmission cooler the next day. Prior to installing the transmission cooler I pulled the drain plug, 1 3/4 quart came out. Refilled with another 3 quarts, brought up to temperature and had to add another 1/2 quart. Cooler couldn't hold that much! Still waiting for a time that this becomes stable. I expect a few more plug pulls before I get the fluid clean. It might be a good idea for those doing this the first time to recheck. I have a great place to add fluid with a driveway that slopes down about 25%. Jack up the front to level and you have plenty of room to crawl under.
       
    9. E.B. Cornburner

      E.B. Cornburner Well-Known Member

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      So if I'm understanding this correctly, it only takes about 3 quarts to do a complete pan drop/filter change/refill on one of these trannies?

      That seems like it's awfully little fluid. Especially for a Ford...I remember the older E4OD and similar took somewhere in the neighborhood of 7-9 quarts for a pan drop/refill.
       
    10. A1C_Snowman

      A1C_Snowman Active Member

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    11. mrnextel

      mrnextel Member

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      I can’t believe what everyone is going through to change Trans fluid, granted the no dipstick system adopted by almost all manufactures is a little goofy.

      Thankfully I have a reputable Trans shop locally that is very detail oriented $89 pan gasket, filter, and fluid change with mercV.

      Transfer case drain and fill $59.

      I honestly can’t see how getting your hands dirty is even worth it.

      My 2 cents

      Bleeding food blue
      MrNextel
       
    12. E.B. Cornburner

      E.B. Cornburner Well-Known Member

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      Just did mine today...Initial fill took 3 quarts, then once started and shifted thru the gears, another ~3 quarts was needed to top it off till a steady stream came out of the fill tool.

      All in all, not a hard job to do, although I wouldn't want to do one without a hoist.

      Big difference in shift quality...Shifts like liquid silk now!
       
    13. Glacier991

      Glacier991 EF Tranny Guru Moderator Emeritus

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      In the newer transmissions, fluid quality is a critical component.
       
    14. CDW6212R

      CDW6212R Hauls the mail. Elite Explorer

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      I can do a transfer case in about five minutes, and the fluid cost is under $9, so I think that $50 for five minutes of my time is very well worth it.

      That's my two cents.
       
    15. EasyRhino

      EasyRhino Well-Known Member

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      Just an update. Yesterday I pulled the transmission drain plug (the whole plug, not just the center screw) when the tranny was at full operating temperature and let it drain overnight.

      When I got up this morning, fluid was still dripping out after over 12 hours of draining.

      Then I dropped the pan and got out the quart or so that sits in the pan below the drain plug boss. Then I removed the old filter for replacement and got out more fluid (think there must be a check valve in the filter line (as stated above)).

      All of the old fluid was drained to a catch pan which I then measured prior to disposal. A total of 7 quarts was removed. Given that that is roughly 1/2 of the total fluid capacity of the transmission, I am pretty pleased to get that much out.

      Also, FWIW, my fluid had been in about 60K miles (not severe service) and looked pretty decent, did not small bad, and passed the paper towel viscosity test. It was darker than the fresh fluid of course, but it could still be seen through (i.e. was not opaque).

      The bottom of the pan and the pan magnet had a slight gray film of wear products, but no chunks, and no grit.

      I took lots of pictures, and if I an figure out how to link/upload them to this site, I will throw together a procedure with pictures. Not a bad job, really.

      Note that when refilling, I was only able to get 2-3 quarts into the pan before it started to flow back out the drain plug center plug. That is until I started the engine and run the shifter through the gears, allowing the tranny pump to pull down the pan level and refill the tranny, followed by repeating putting in another 2-3 quarts.

      It does seem to me that checking level using the center plug on a tranny that is not fully warmed up and running could very, very easily result in running it with insufficient fluid.
       
    16. BrooklynBay

      BrooklynBay Moderator & long time member. Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    17. BrooklynBay

      BrooklynBay Moderator & long time member. Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      Sight glass for the 5R55W.

      http://www.trnw.net/
      [​IMG]
      This is an explaination of what this is:
       
    18. 2nrguy

      2nrguy New Member

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      Anyone got any new info on a deeper pan yet
      This is the info that ive been looking for, it looks like i can do this in the comfort of my own frozen driveway.
      If i read this right im going to need 6-7 qts of fluid and about 20 min of time.
       
    19. BrooklynBay

      BrooklynBay Moderator & long time member. Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    20. 2nrguy

      2nrguy New Member

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      ill take that as a no for right now, for the picture of the the fill sight glass anyone have an idea of where the clear tube is going?
       
    21. F500

      F500 New Member

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      It looks like it's not "going" but more likely coming from a new ATF source... This new fluid is pumped in the tranny.
       
      Last edited: May 7, 2008
    22. themons

      themons New Member

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      Difference in drain and fill volume

      I recently decided to drain and fill the tranmission pan on my 2002 two wheel drive Explorer.

      When I removed the whole drain plug, approximately 2 1/3 quarts of fluid came out. I understand that this is the amount that you would normally expect.

      However, after replacing the whole plug and inserting my 1/8 fitting in the center of the plug, I could only put back in approximately 1 quart. 1 1/3 quart drained back out when I tried to replace the whole 2 1/3 quarts that originally came out.

      This was with the transmission warm and engine running.

      Any ideas?

      Thanks.
       
    23. BrooklynBay

      BrooklynBay Moderator & long time member. Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    24. themons

      themons New Member

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      Transmission fill trick

      I figured out the transmission fluid fill issue and developed a trick to keep things cleaner.

      When the transmission is cold, you will get out about 2 and 1/2 quarts out of the complete drain plug. There is another 1 and 1/2 quarts still in the pan that you cannot get out.

      What you do is first drain out the 2 and 1/2 quarts and then drop the pan and remove the remaining 1 and 1/2 quarts. You can now remove all of sludge from the magnet inside the pan.

      Replace the complete drain plug. Secure the drain pan loosely to the transmission. Slide the hose from your fluid pump between the transmission and the pan. Pump 4 quarts back into the pan. Tighten all of the mounting bolts slowly and evenly so the pan does not tilt.

      You have to do this a few times since much of the fluid remains within the transmission.

      Changing the filter in this process is optional.
       
    25. 70GS455

      70GS455 New Member

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      Just did this on my '05 2WD. I used the fitting into the drain plug with the quart hand pump. Couple of things. What a freaking mess !! After draining, pan still had a lot of fluid in it which I promptly spilled every bit of. Filter had fluid in it which again I spilled. Trans continued to leak fluid while the pan was off and the filter was out. I drained about 4 quarts and spilled prob another 1 qt. I put 5 quarts back in. Make sure engine is running while checking the level and also run the gear selector through all gears a few times as that made a difference in the level.
       
    26. Frankbat

      Frankbat New Member

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      VERY Slight Tranny Plug Drip

      I'm looking for someone to put my mind at ease about a tranny service I recently had done on my 2003 Mountianeer.

      Shortly after the service was performed, I noticed that the transimssion drain plug was dripping a bit. The service advisor at the dealership where I had the work done said this was normal because of the overfill required to fill the thing and it should stop after a few days. However, the dripping didn't stop and, since I was away on vacation, another dealership tightened the plug.

      That STILL didn't fully stop the problem and the plug continued to drip, but *much* slower--about one or two drips over a 24 period. When I returned from vacation I took it back to the dealership doing the initial service and they changed the plug. That was a week ago...

      Now, I've noticed that the plug let's loose with a really small, single drip after the car has been driven for awhile. During regular driving the plug, while not soaked, does feel slightly "sweaty" and greasy. Is this something that will eventually go away or will it become a bigger problem over time? What's the maximum I could loose over time from the plug? I really don't want to keep bugging the folks at the dealership if I'm just being paranoid and this isn't a major issue... :confused: (I'd feel a lot better if this thing had a @#$% dipstick).

      Sorry for being sorry wordy--and thanks!
       

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