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How many more quarts of ATF do I need to add?!?!

jseabolt

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I changed the transmission filter on my 1996 Explorer 5.0 AWD then added three quarts as recommended by the manual and what I've read on here. I did not drain the torque converter.

I allowed it to idle until the temperature gauge showed temperature but it still wouldn't shift right. Like it would take 3-4 seconds before engaging when shifted into reverse or drive.

So I added a fourth quart. This time it did better. I took it on a test run. Still some hesitation when going from a dead stop to moving but no slipping going down the highway.

So I came back home and checked the dipstick. There appears to be fluid on it but I can't tell if it's what's stuck to the dipstick tube or it's actually got fluid in it.

The flat sides portions of the dipstick has no fluid on it, just the edges. This leads me to believe this is the fluid from the tube.

So I've added a fifth quart. Still not showing what I think to be level! AARRGGHH!!!

First of all the dipstick I have does not match the dipstick in the owner's manual. This one has a white or yellow tip. Turn it one way and it says cold, flip it over and it says hot.

For compassion, I pulled the dipstick from my 68 Fairlane's C4 and it is fully coated. It's just a flat metal dipstick.

So my question is, how many more quarts of fluid do I need to add? How much fluid could have possibly drained out from this thing?

What's the maximum about of fluid you could possibly add to the transmission after doing a filter swap?

Everything I have read says if your just doing a filter swap to add three quarts but I've added five quarts so far and it still appears like it needs more fluid.

Is this unusual to add 5 quarts so far and the transmission is still too low on fluid?

As of right now, the truck shifts fine but I still think there is not enough fluid in it.

Now as to how much did I drain out of the transmission? Since there is no drain plug on the pan, about half of the fluid hit the floor so I have no idea if three quarts drained out or more. Perhaps the transmission was low on fluid before I took the pan off so that's why it's requiring more that three quarts. But it's not leaking fluid. Last time I checked it appeared to have enough fluid in it.

The other question is how can you tell if you have put too much fluid in the transmission? Will it shoot out the dipstick tube or leak?
 
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budwich

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one question would be "did you see fluid on the stick before you did your change"... cause from some of your statements, it appears that you don't believe your stick is correct. Secondly, if you don't know what the stick "should look like" in terms of "fluid coating", check your fluid with you vehicle cold, not running, the fluid level should be high on the stick as it is not being circulated anywhere... that will give you an idea if things are at least "partially functional".
 
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robertoa1a

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There is a section here dedicated to transmitions. Usually home mechanics don't usually f with auto trans deeply. The people in the trans section have the most reliable info.

I think that three quarts in the pan may be accurate, but when you consider how much fluid is in the torque converter and cooling unit, it is more like six or seven quarts.

I don't want to ask how it all may have leaked out. The folks in the trans threads are experts and they will know.
 
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waskly

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normally 5 quarts is minimum depends how long you had the pan off, and how much more drained from the filter when removed you could even add up to 10 quarts depending on how full it was to start with.
 
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sean99

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My 01 has the same style dipstick. Most likely still a little low on fluid. When it registers on the stick it will be an obvious mark.
 
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ugexe

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If you are really worried you could always get a clean pan and drain all the fluid, measure how much fluid you captured, refill with said fluid, then top off with the recommended amount minus what you captured.

But overfilling isn't going to harm anything... it won't blow any seals or anything. Sometimes it'll leak from the pan or come up out of the dipstick, but usually it won't. However it may aerate the fluid since the fluid won't compress but air will, which means less protection/lubrication.
 
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robertoa1a

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Why did you change the filter to begin with? If it was measuring good and running good to begin with, and you were just doing regular maintenance, then add fluid till the stick shows normal. I doubt that you can ruin a 4R70W trans by having a little too much fluid.

On the other hand, some people think that replacing the filter will cure some pre-existing problem. Nope!

Any how the 4R70w is one of the toughest trans ever built and pretty forgiving too.
 
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sean99

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Why did you change the filter to begin with? If it was measuring good and running good to begin with, and you were just doing regular maintenance, then add fluid till the stick shows normal.

I thought changing the filter, and adding new fluid is good maintenance. I would flush too before signs of trouble.
 
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waskly

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Why did you change the filter to begin with? If it was measuring good and running good to begin with, and you were just doing regular maintenance, then add fluid till the stick shows normal. I doubt that you can ruin a 4R70W trans by having a little too much fluid.

On the other hand, some people think that replacing the filter will cure some pre-existing problem. Nope!

Any how the 4R70w is one of the toughest trans ever built and pretty forgiving too.

running low fluid will burn the clutches up, when you take the unit apart you can tell it was low fluid the trans burns up inside.
 
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Spdrcer34

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Filling it from EMPTY, it takes 13 quarts, including the torque convertor.....you didn't completely drain it, and you have barely put 1/3 of that in there....

Add another 1/2 quart.

Ryan
 
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jseabolt

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Why did you change the filter to begin with? If it was measuring good and running good to begin with, and you were just doing regular maintenance, then add fluid till the stick shows normal. I doubt that you can ruin a 4R70W trans by having a little too much fluid.

On the other hand, some people think that replacing the filter will cure some pre-existing problem. Nope!

Any how the 4R70w is one of the toughest trans ever built and pretty forgiving too.

It was working fine but I want to keep it working fine. My truck has 100,000 miles on it and figured at least changing the filter was a good idea. The magnet in the pan had stuff stuck to it so it's obviously got some wear on it so I know the filter has to be catching something. I would think eventually it would clog up.

The filter had obviously never been changed. I found this plug in the pan:

http://autorepair.about.com/library/a/1f/bl602f.htm
 
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jseabolt

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One thing that scares me is my wife had a 350Z with about 90,000 miles on it that started slipping. The mechanic told me the fluid was burned up. He says Nissans require new fluids and filter every 30,000 miles. He thinks this thing had never had a fluid and filter change.

Once more I had to add a quart of oil to this thign every 2000 miles and it smoked at startup. My Explorer has 100,000 miles on it and doesn't use any oil.

Now I know that this was a Nissan and not a Ford....

That's one reason I went to the dealership to buy some Mercon V. Someone told me not to use that Costal Dex/Merc because it may not be compatiable with what was in the transmission.

So far I haven't been able to find the actual Ford Mercon V at Autozone, Advance or O'relieys.
 
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my98nnj

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Add fluid until the dip stick shows full HOT when the tranny is HOT.
That's the most accurate way to fill an automatic.
Read your owners manual, in most cases the vehicle needs to be running as well.
 
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2TimingTom

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Yes, 30,000 change intervals aren't uncommon on transmissions. That's probably what you should be doing on your Explorer- regardless of what it says (or doesn't say) in the owner's manual.

Say this to yourself and see if you can get yourself to believe it:
"Lifetime Lubricating Fluid"

Would you leave the oil in your engine for the lifetime of your car? Well, I guess if you did, it really WOULD be the lifetime of your car because the old oil would break down and destroy the engine.

What I recently did on my SOHC V6 with 117,000 miles was: I dropped the pan, replaced the filter, measured how much fluid I captured and then added a little extra for the amount I spilled (I estimated 4 qts) and I added a 10 oz bottle of Lubegard Friction modifier. I got all the fluids, gasket and filter at NAPA. I went with the NAPA brand Mercon V fluid since I plan on redoing this messy job in a few months (I have excellent reason to believe this fluid has never been changed) and then again a few months after that. On the 3rd change, I'll put in some Mobil 1 Mercon V or possibly Amsoil Mercon V. After that, I'm sticking to 30,000 mile intervals.
 
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jseabolt

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OK guys, here's an update.

This morning I checked the level. Engine cold and had not been started for at least 12 hours.

Now the dipstick is finally showing level. If I flip the dipstick over to where it says COLD, the level is showing halfway.

Now I start the vehicle and the dipstick is not showing any level. Excuse my ignorance but when the engine is running, shouldn't it be pushing the level further up the dipstick?

I poured in about 1/4 quart and go for a test run. Come back and it still appears no level on the dipstick.

Pour in the rest of the quart and go for another test run. Come back and recheck. Now the dipstick is finally showing level after adding a total of 6 quarts after the filter change.

The truck is now shifting better than ever with no hesitation between going from park to reverse or stops while in drive.

The only thing now is the fluid is all the way up the dipstick. So have I added too much fluid?

So let's recap. This morning, stone cold, level shows halfway on the cold mark. Now I've added an additional quart and the entire white tip is showing level with the drivetrain warmed up.

So based on the cold reading this morning, how much additional fluid would it take to raise the level to where it needs to be?

I know I sound like I have no clue what I am doing. The thing is I have owned very few cars with automatic transmissions, two of which have no dipstick and checking the level has always baffled me. Sounds like a no-brainer like checking the engine oil but not for me!
 
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1AJeremyD

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The transmission needs to be running to check the fluid. Add a half a quart as at a time and let it sit for about 5 mins if you are having problems reading the transmission. I always had a problem with fords and having weird readings on the stick. Are you running the car through the gears after adding the fluid?

As for your Nissan problem you are experiencing, it is very common for any and all of the 3.5 and 3.7 L engines to be smoking if you don't keep a really good eye on the oil level between oil changes. those engines only take between 4.2 and 5.2 quarts and if they get a quart or two low which does happen the valve guide seals burn up and the car begins to smoke and then the valves begin to clatter and make noise.

You will hear it and see it a lot more once the car get kicked into Nissan version of V-tec. Might be time to take it to the mechanic before it gets worse
 
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Fifty150

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jseabolt,

The correct fill for my pan is 4.5 qts. Use only Mercon V or fluid that meets Mercon V specs. I usually use 4 qts with a bottle of Lucas Oil Transmission Fix additive.

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Good job with dropping the pan and changing the filter. Now you can do a full transmission service.

On the driver side of the radiator, there are two steel lines. The upper line is the cooling line. This delivers hot fluid from your transmission to the radiator. The lower line (about halfway down the length of your radiator body, is the return line. This delivers cool fluid back to your transmission.

Where the cooling line goes into the radiator, you should see two fittings. Use a wrench to hold the larger one (next to radiator), and a second wrench to loosen the smaller one (cooling line side).

Now get a 5' length of transmission hose, and affix it to the cooling line with a hose clamp. Run the other end up and over the front of your car, and into a 5 gallon bucket next to the bumper.

Have an assistant help you turn the car on and off. Every time the car is turned on, the transmission will pump fluid out. Pump out a few quarts, turn off the ignition, and add a few quarts through the dipstick tube.

Repeat process until clean fluid comes out. Disconnect transmission hose from cooling line, and reconnect cooling line to radiator.

Turn engine on. Check dipstick. Add Lucas Oil Transmission Fix (optional) or transmission fluid to top off and bring to correct level. Shift through all gears. Check dipstick again. Add fluid if needed.

My 4R70 calls for 13.9 quarts. I usually have about 16 quarts handy (just in case).
 
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budwich

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good "testing".... now you are starting to understand. Basically your "cold test" is a test to "understand" what to look for on the stick itself... ie. how the fluid looks ... it should leave an easily seen demarcation across the stick.... yes when the engine is not running, it will be high. that is because the fluid is basically "drained" to the lowest point of the transmission ( and the lower part of the torque converter... basically leveling things). Of course, this has little to no value other than to tell you that indeed you have some fluid in the tranny... great. As commented, you then need to warm things up by shifting thru gears and stuff, this gets things "going". Now, with the truck motor running and everything warm, tranny in park, the level you read now is the "operational level" of the fluid... this is what has to be in the "middle" of the appropriate marks on the stick.... too low and you may have problem symptoms like shifting plus other things... too high and you may have leaks and other issues due to frothing. Anyways, it sounds like you are basically there. good luck.
 
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