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Old 08-16-2009, 02:05 AM   #1
jaguaero
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Default Transmission fluid flush

I did a tranny fluid drain and re-fill in December 2008 and did about 14k after this including an Atlanta to Rhode Island drive. I did the drain as DIY by just draining the fluid using the ATF drain plug, sealing it back, switching the old filter with the new one I purchased from Saturn dealership. I believe I had put in a little more than 4quarts of Mobil Synthetic ATF.

Last month during a random fluid level check at one of the shops in upstate NY, the mechanic said the fluid is in a bad state and it has to be replaced.

This brings back to the predicament I had last December on whether I should drain the fluid myself or let Firestone/Pepboys do it using their machine and the cleaning fluid.

I have put 65k miles on the vehicle since I purchased it and this is the first time I did a tranny drain and re-fill. I don't know if any of the previous owners did a tranny flush.

Back then I felt $150 was a little too much and I would be able to do the same thing myself and end up using synthetic too. Now it appears that a drain is not a complete drain unlike an engine oil change. There is a significant amount of old tranny oil left inside. So is a flush the right option then? Also I used Mobil synthetic ATF but from my inquiries it looks like no one does synthetic re-fill its all regular ATF. I think the preferred brand is Valvoline at most of these shops.

Jags

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Old 08-16-2009, 02:49 AM   #2
RCH
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Default Re: Transmission fluid flush

You can do it yourself by disconnecting the return line and drain it into a bucket as you refill it with new fluid. Run the engine for a few seconds, shut off, refill and repeat until fluid comes out looking new. I prefer doing it myself that way I know it's done the way I like it.

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Old 08-16-2009, 03:32 AM   #3
westwind999
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Default Re: Transmission fluid flush

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaguaero View Post
Last month during a random fluid level check at one of the shops in upstate NY, the mechanic said the fluid is in a bad state and it has to be replaced.
For what reason was the fluid bad?

If you like you can drain and refill a couple times in short interval to get a higher concentration of fresh fluid. There's nothing wrong with your method.

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Old 08-16-2009, 02:04 PM   #4
alordofchaos
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Default Re: Transmission fluid flush

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaguaero View Post
Last month during a random fluid level check at one of the shops in upstate NY, the mechanic said the fluid is in a bad state and it has to be replaced.
I'm gonna call BS on the mechanic and recommend you inspect the fluid yourself. There are plenty of "how to check your atf" web pages with pictures - you're basically smelling it, and putting a drop on a clean towel to look for the proper color and dirt/burning.

See, you know you put 4 qts of fresh ATF in there. I don't know the total capacity offhand (Haynes lists 5.3 qts through 97, 4.2 for 98+), but you know the majority of the fluid is fresh.

Like westwind said, you can do another drain and fill if you're worried.

The last time I was told I needed new fluid during a "random fluid check" was at a national tire chain. I had the engine oil changed at an independent garage (coupon deal - it was the same price as it would have cost me for oil and filter).

Right after the oil & filter change, I drove the 5 miles to the national tire chain store for an alignment. They "checked the oil" and told me it was dirty and needed to be changed. Yep, the same fresh oil that was put in 5 miles ago.
I could see the guys behind the lying @sshole at the counter laughing at him as he sputtered and tried to cover himself.

These guys get away with it 99% of the time because most people have no idea what goes into their cars, or when the last time it was serviced or what they did.

...
...Wait, what, I actually won that eBay auction?
Guess I now (12/2008) own a 1998 SL2, silver, 5 spd :p
102k @ purchase, now 162k
And now (7/2010), a Craigslist 1997 SC2, white, 5 spd

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Old 08-16-2009, 03:17 PM   #5
TomM96
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Default Re: Transmission fluid flush

It doesn't hurt to mention the year/mileage of the rig.

Normally 14kMi is too soon for a change , but you might want get the proper fluid (i think dealer's is best , then regular ATF).

The proper fluid level is important; this is within your technique limits!

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Old 08-16-2009, 11:14 PM   #6
jaguaero
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Default Re: Transmission fluid flush

I have a 96 Saturn SL2 with 120k on it now. I bought it used in 03 when it had 53k on it.

I happened to read the forums and based on one of the posts decided to check the condition of the fluid myself since i started to change engine oil myself too. I did the tranny oil change the first time only because I felt as against a light red, the dipstick showed a dark red/brownish color. Right after I changed the fluid I felt a marked change in the shifts.

I will try to check the fluid myself during this week. It was during a courtesy check when a mechanic said the condition was bad. Obviously I didn't agree with him so I put it off. But i just wanted to better understand the difference in the process. He also said during the flush the machine will refill about 8-10 quarts which seemed odd because I did read on the forum here the max if you are able to do a complete drain would be 5 quarts.

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Old 08-17-2009, 08:43 AM   #7
Baron5867
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Default Re: Transmission fluid flush

Quote:
Originally Posted by RCH View Post
You can do it yourself by disconnecting the return line and drain it into a bucket as you refill it with new fluid. Run the engine for a few seconds, shut off, refill and repeat until fluid comes out looking new. I prefer doing it myself that way I know it's done the way I like it.
I have done this on cars where the pan had to be dropped to drain the ATF (messy!). I did this only when a filter change was not necessary, but fluid replacement was desired.

To someone who buys a used car, I would suggest an ATF drain, refill, then shortly afterward, a second drain and refill with a filter change.

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Old 08-17-2009, 03:08 PM   #8
RCH
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Default Re: Transmission fluid flush

I've done the fluid change described above when I switched my Allison Transmission to synthetic and on one of my kid's Toyota Matrix. The reason the flush adds more fluid is because it also flushes out the torque converter which has fluid in it as well, that the typical drain and fill will not get. I stay away from the machine flushes because an Allison Transmissions tech said that they have a tendency to delaminate the clutches. I change the fluid and in my daughter's SL2 once a year and have had no problems at all. Just check smell and color as noted in posts and watch out for the wolves.

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