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Transmission Fluid Flush worth it??

Discussion in 'Stock 2011 - 2019 Ford Explorer Discussion' started by Keith N, January 6, 2017.

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  1. Keith N

    Keith N Elite Explorer

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    Hello:

    Curious on the opinions regarding flushing (exchanging) the fluid on the transmission. I have an 11 with 65k. Its a 4wd, with a pretty easy life, just occassional tow of small trailer. Is it a good thing to do for life of transmission? I have heard horror stories of trannies not shifting good after a flush (on older cars), so just now sure if its worth the $180 the dealer wants. I do plan to keep the car as long as it is reliable, which so far it has been.

    Dealer says there is not a filter to change, and they only exchange fluid.

    Thanks,
    Keith
     
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  3. SimonW

    SimonW New Member

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    Are they offering you a flush (through the trans cooler lines) or a drain and fill?
    I didn't think you could do a flush since there is a thermostat, and a drain only gets about 1/3 of the fluid so multiple drain/fill cycles are needed with spinning the transmission in between....

    I'm interested to hear if the above is correct.

    I have no empirical data on your question (whether it is good to do) but it sounds like a good idea.

    Simon
     
  4. Keith N

    Keith N Elite Explorer

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    Dealer quoted exchange of fluids via cooler lines, so 100% new fluid for $180.

    Keith
     
  5. swshawaii

    swshawaii Elite Explorer

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    $180 sounds reasonable considering your 6F transmission's capacity is almost 13 quarts, and the price of Motorcraft Mercon LV is approaching $10 per quart at retail. Only dealer work I've ever done was having two extra PATS keys programmed and a transmission fluid exchange. Dealer used 20 quarts of Motorcraft Mercon V (5R55E transmission), filter, and gasket for $199. They used a BG PF5 machine that has no power, and uses the transmissions own pump to change the fluid without pressure or force. No cleaners or additives were used. Even though yours holds less fluid, and doesn't require filter replacement, $180 sounds like a no brainer to me. Heard too many expensive horror stories about AAMCO and others, especially when they use "universal" multi use ATF. Transmissions that require Mercon fluids seem particularly finicky, and there are three different Mercon formulations, LV, SP, and V. Good luck.

    What is a Transmission Flush? | Cost & Process

    Motorcraft® Transmission Fluids – The Official Ford Parts Site | FordParts.com
     
    Last edited: January 7, 2017
  6. 182RG

    182RG Active Member

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    You can if you keep the fluid temp up. The local BG shop does mine. (Exchange via cooler lines).

    During the exchange:

    Parking brake set
    Foot on brake
    Transmission in 'R'
    Keep RPM at 2,000.

    Works great.

    And yes, to the OP. Exchange the fluid. Lifetime fluid is a myth. I do it every 60K.

    BTW, your PTU needs a fluid change worst of all......don't forget it. I recommend every 30K.
     
  7. Keith N

    Keith N Elite Explorer

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    Thanks for advice. I did the ptu this past summer at 60k. Was not as bad as some of the others. Still looked like oil at least.

    Maybe the word flush was bad in the title. It is an exchange of fluids from what I understand.

    Keith
     
  8. peterk9

    peterk9 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    Hi Keith. The cost figure compares very favourably with this one done 3.5 years ago at 72.5k.
    http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/index.php?threads/transmission-fluid-change.385062/#post-3151707

    Peter
     
  9. Slorch

    Slorch New Member

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    I was out in the garage this afternoon doing drop-n-fill #2 of 3. Basically, 3 weekends in a row - drop the drain plug, measure what comes out and refill. At 62K, the fluid wasn't too bad. A dark maroon instead of bright red.

    A drain & fill is not the same as a true exchange, of course, but it is easy and can be a bit cheaper. You can find cases of Motorcraft Mercon LV on eBay and Amazon for $60-$75. The process is pretty simple, and here's what I did for a 3.5L N/A with the 6F55 (tow package) transmission:

    1. Locate the filler cap/dipstick. Shine a flashlight down past the inner edge of the air filter housing, and you should be able to see it. Those with smaller hands/forearms may even be able to reach it.

    2. The 6F has a small drain plug. Actually, the 6F55 has two, but I only dealt with the lower-hanging one. An 11mm socket or wrench is needed to remove it. With a warm transmission, I get about 4.5 quarts out. No need to jack the vehicle at all. Just reach under and remove the bolt.

    3. While draining, move back up top and remove the airbox. First loosen the hose clamp holding the rubber intake to the box top, then undo the latches and remove the top. You can separate it from the rubber intake and set it aside without unplugging any of the sensors.

    4. To remove the air box itself, pull out the filter and take a look inside. You'll see where the snorkel enters the box, and if you follow the snorkel up you will find two silver bolts where it attaches to the front of the car. Remove those bolts and pull the box upward. It has two plungers on the bottom that secure into rubber grommets to hold it in place. Once free, it is possible to remove the box with a bit of tilting and turning.

    5. Now you have a clear view of the filler cap. Do not be surprised to find a fair amount of dirt and crud on it. The cap doubles as a vent for the transmission, and the vapors seem to attract/hold dust. In my case, with an otherwise clean area, the cap and tube were coated with nasty crud. Clean this carefully before removing the cap. I found a fair amount of gunk on the short filler tube and even some in the strainer contained inside the tube. So, even if you can reach the cap as in step 1, it is probably a good idea to remove the airbox and clean this area at least once in a while.

    6. Once the fluid has drained and you are only getting a slow drip, reinstall the drain plug and wipe off any excess fluid. The usual warning about steel plugs in aluminum castings apply here. Snug is good, but don't overdo it. Stripping the threads will be an unpleasant and expensive experience.

    7. Measure the old fluid to determine how much to add, then use a long funnel to slowly add the new fluid. This assumes the fluid level was checked previously and found to be OK. As mentioned, I got about 4.5 quarts out each time.

    8. Reinstall everything, check for leaks and you are done. Some people will repeat the process x3 every 30,40, or 50K miles, while others prefer to just do a single drain every few oil changes.

    Although, if a dealer is quoting less than $200 for a proper exchange, that is a tempting offer...
     
  10. Uaglio

    Uaglio Active Member

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    Have any of you actually seen a provable failure due to fluid degradation?
     
  11. flip4prez

    flip4prez New Member

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    I changed mine on plenty of vehicles all difference makes Japanese american and never had a problem. Even had a 2001 Toyota avalon with a slipping tranny and a flush fixed it. Just my experience
     
  12. Napalm

    Napalm Active Member

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    to put a few other myths to bed. Modern transmissions/transaxles are indeed designed around the flush method of maintenace. To the point where - in park - with the machine hooked up and filtering - fluid pressure will clean out the valve body and actuators. Something a pan drop and fill will not do.

    and IIRC there is not a filter on the Ford models but perhaps that just some models. eitherway the machine is designed to be flushed occasionally. It does not harm seals - it does not harm valves. It is however possible to damage some valves if there is already trash in the transmission - this is true. That same risk is always there however because if that trash is there it is also floating around in there ready to gum up the works. Transmission filters - for those that have one - are not the micron like filters on your engine oil. I think there is only a few commercial transmissions that do indeed use this sort of thing - but nothing else.

    So yes flush the machine at least one time - if for no other reason than to get that initial break in clutch material out of the fluid. Also you will end up with mostly new clean fluid once it's done - and then your good for another 5+ years.


    Now while you are thinking about it - flush your cooling system too.
     
  13. Slorch

    Slorch New Member

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    The 6F models have an internal thermostat, and the fluid cannot be exchanged through the cooler lines without keeping the temperature up. 182RG's method above will do it, and I've also seen shops put the vehicle on a low lift, put it in gear and let the wheels spin while performing the exchange. That seems far less safe, but allows a single tech to perform the exchange. Also no pan to drop, and the 6F has an internal filter (more of a fine screen, really) that cannot be accessed without splitting the transmission case.

    Now that the old power flush machines have gone the way of the dodo, in favor of today's passive exchangers, the process is very safe. Not very different than the old method of sticking the cooler lines in 2 buckets in the driveway. The greatest danger is probably some shop using the wrong fluid, or a multi-vehicle concoction that is not suitable.

    We know Ford cuts costs in a lot of ways, but they do spend a ton of money developing fluid specifications. Mercon LV is an outstanding fluid, specifically designed to reduce service intervals. It is far more resistant to shearing, oxidation and varnish buildup than older formulations. Resistant, but not immune, and if Ford says it is good for 150K, I wonder what condition it would be in at 120 or 135K. A lot of that will depend on the life the vehicle has led, of course. Here in the Northeast, salt kills many cars before mechanical issues get them, and many more are wrecked. Transmission failures still occur, but not like in the bad, old days.
     
  14. Napalm

    Napalm Active Member

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    Indeed but how does the ford manual say to do the job does it not say start the procedure when the trans temp is above ______.

    The GM system is the same way - practically down to the flow diagrams. Only real difference is that GM still put a serviceable filter and pan on theirs such as it can be removed - but only for dire reasons. IE it should never need to be touched either.

    On the GM side you're supposed to keep the engine on - trans in neutral - and have the trans temp above ______ before you start. Which I think is somewhere near 36 centigrade. You're also supposed to check the fluid level at the same temp after the process is over via the stand tube in the case.

    It is meant to be flushed - and I'm a proponent of doing it at least once in the life of the car. I also say you should flush your power steering fluid and complete flush of your brake fluid every 3 years.
     

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