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Old 12-15-2013, 08:00 AM   #1
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Trans fluid in radiator

How to clean trans fluid out of radiator ?


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Old 12-15-2013, 08:34 AM   #2
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if there is trans fluid in your coolant, and you did not put it in there by accident, then trans cooler in the radiator has a leak, so you need a new radiator.

If you put it in there by accident, just flush the coolant out and put in new coolant.
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Old 12-15-2013, 08:49 AM   #3
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You will need a new rad and an immediate transmission flush and I mean a complete transmission flush (1-drop the trans pan clean and replace the trans filter, 2-followed by a complete trans flush) Once that is done drive for a week then have the trans oil checked for any rad fluid. If present then do another trans flush. If you leave rad fluid in the trans it will destroy the torque converter.
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Old 12-15-2013, 09:06 AM   #4
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WHOA!!

Assuming you have an AT and didn't put the fluid in there yourself- you need a new radiator. If your radiator hoses are more than 10 years old, now is a good time for those also. You'll also need to completely drain the trans fluid from the engine. Here's a procedure- first for cleaning the cooling system, then the transmission.

First replace the radiator and hoses if needed. Then drain fluid from the transmission, and drop the transmission pan. A kitty litter pan is needed to prevent fluid from dripping onto the concrete from the opening. To drain the torque converter completely, disconnect the lower line from the radiator, attach a hose to the outlet of the lower radiator hose, and run that to a bucket. Disconnect the fuel cut-off switch so that the engine will not run, you can also disconnect the coil wiring harness to prevent unnecessary sparking. Crank the engine with the starter for about 10 seconds. Check the level of fluid in the bucket. Crank for another 10 seconds, see if there is more fluid. Continue until there is no more fluid. Remove the trans pan and put your kitty litter pan under the transmission. There will still be fluid in the pan! Drain appropriately! Remove the old transmission filter. It should just pull straight off. Now install a new filter, clean the pan, reinstall the magnet, install the gasket, and reinstall the pan. I highly suggest a Permatex brand filter replacement because those come with adhesive gaskets which make install much easier. If you already have the transmission lines disconnected from the radiator before you try draining the transmission, then attach hoses to both trans lines and drop those in a bucket, but keep the hoses high enough that fluid won't circulate back into the trans through the lower line.

I would also disconnect both of the heater core hoses, and flush the heater core with water (hose water is ok) before reconnecting to the motor to the new radiator. You can also use the engine coolant hoses to rinse the inside of the engine. Turn the lower radiator hose, or use the upper hose in place of the lower to raise the height of the lower outlet so that the engine will completely fill with water. Use the other hose to help force water into the engine. Flush in both directions until the water runs clear. You can leave the heater core connected for this. I would flush the heater core separately AFTER flushing the engine because oil could become trapped in the heater core.
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Old 12-15-2013, 09:55 AM   #5
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You should have a new radiator installed, engine flushed, transmission drained, new filter installed, and cleaned trans pan in place. You can connect the trans lines to the new radiator now, and fill the transmission if you wish.

Now you can do one of two things: you can either fill with coolant and go ahead, or you can do one last cooling system flush. For the final flush, I'd fill with tap water again, and 1/2 gallon of mineral spirits. Mineral spirits will combine with the rest of the oil, and will evaporate more readily. Run the engine with this in it for 5 mins, then flush with water again. You should also be sure to flush the overflow after you finish. You might even want to fill with tap water, run for 5 mins, and drain again after mineral spirits. Once you're flushed thoroughly enough- and yeah- the final mineral spirits flush might be over the top, but you could do earlier if you wanted. Really, water should be sufficient to flush the engine cooling system. It just depends on how deep you want to do it, and how much flushing you can stand!

The bummer is going to be purchasing a new radiator, and $50 for trans fluid! This is going to end up being a $300+ repair just in parts.

Do not drive the car if you can help it. Coolant in the trans will require you to get a new trans quicker than you'd like!
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Old 12-15-2013, 10:06 AM   #6
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The way I clean the trans fluid out is add some dish soap to the engine and remove the thermostat and let it flow freely , over fill the fill tank and let it work its way to the top where it floats , add water and let the trans fluid flow out then drive some more till it stops coming to the top

Its rare for the water to get into the trans because the trans has much higher psi then the water , if your getting water into the trans you will see droplets on the trans dip stick from condensation , if you remove the trans dipstick it will evaporate out when the fluid gets hot

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Old 12-15-2013, 11:03 AM   #7
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Hope you got lucky & the trans didn't get much coolant in the fluid.

Did a neighbor's mini van a number of years ago that had run long enough with the blown cooler in the radiator to mix the fluids thoroughly (pepto bismol fluid in trans).

Saved it with the new radiator, but it took a FEW flushes to get the trans cleaned out enough. It was worth it, ran 3 years B4 sold due to rust - still running.

Luck!
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Old 12-15-2013, 11:16 AM   #8
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Tom has a point. If you're not seeing coolant in the trans fluid, you could be ok to skip replacing the filter and fluid. It should boil and exit the trans through the breather at the top under the trans mount as steam. You might have a crack that only opens under pressure and no coolant is draining into the trans when the engine isn't running. If it is, you'll see pink foamy trans fluid on the dipstick- check it without the engine running to look for this.

I didn't think about dish soap either. That might work better than mineral spirits. I've always used MS on iron blocks because it pulls rust off too, but this is an aluminum block. MS can also screw up some seals that were nearly gone, so water and a little Dawn is probably a better choice.
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Old 12-17-2013, 07:02 AM   #9
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While the ATX normally runs at higher pressure than the radiator (30 lbs. and up vs. 18 lbs.) the ATX sometimes does not at slow warm idle, the cooler loop output then might not hit 30 psi and can leak the other way but not common.................just like car oil pump hits 30# easy at 1500+ rpm but can lay around 7-10# at dead idle.........depends on pump set up and wear. I HAVE seen water in ATX before but not much. A quick look will tell, the fluid will get pink from water in it.

Usually though like Tom says.............

If the car has a dedicated standalone ATX oil cooler you can cut the radiator out of the trans cooler circuit entirely to save price of radiator and run forever like that using just the trans cooler alone but I wouldn't tow on it. Oil takes a bit longer to warm up but stays cooler overall since it then never hits engine water temp. Got 3 cars like that now since leery of the intercoolers for just this leak issue when car gets older. One of the cars has a PCM controlled ATX with oil temp sensor, it sees no trouble at all and runs fine even in winter.

If done, the rad cooler outlets WILL have to be plugged in this case since at least one of them will leak coolant.

I too use dishwashing liquid to cut oil. easier to rinse that out than mineral spirits are. The surfactant in the dish fluid will cut oil right out of the system. Make dang sure you rinse system for a long time after use though.
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