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Old 03-09-2012, 11:16 AM   #1
zooropa
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automatic transmission fluid change

ok so another new owner question (2001 focus se, zetec engine, auto tranny, 123k miles)

looking through all the receipts the original owner gave me I can see no transmission fluid change. I checked the ford website for maintenance schedule and every 30k miles it says "Change automatic transmission fluid".

the transmission itself works fine, it doesn't show any signs of failure when driving. But looking at the notes on one of the recent receipts the owner had for an engine oil change, it says "transmission service recommended".

Now, I've googled it and I've seen many people say that if the car (not specifically Ford Focus though) didn't have any regular transmission fluid changes, flushing it would cause more harm then good and that it is better just to top it off.

I'm planning a long trip in the spring break and i'm wondering if i should do the ATF flush before or just go with it like this considering it doesn't seem to have any problems.




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Old 03-09-2012, 11:33 AM   #2
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You will get answers from both sides. Change, don't change, flush, etc. IMHO, the best is to drop the pan, change the filter, add fluid, disconnect the cooler line, pump out about 3 quarts, add 3 quarts, pump, add, etc. until you have replaced all the old. That is what I will do soon with mine @ 105k miles. The sooner the better.
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Old 03-09-2012, 02:10 PM   #3
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Winterbeater has got it down....

The ONLY thing to avoid is the "reverse flush", or using a solvent type "cleaner", BOTH of which have been known to cause issues that didn't previously exist in transmissions that didn't have changes when recommended....

Dropping the pan to clean out crud & replace filter is good...

getting more old fluid out by pumping it out through the cooler line works well...

knocking the crud loose & flushing it where it doesn't belong by reverse flushes or 'cleaning" solvents causes more problems than it solves in many cases....

luck!
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Old 03-20-2012, 02:22 AM   #4
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The fluid when new is bright red. As it burns it turns orange then brown and will smell burnt. You can pull pan and then install drain plug, I did both of mine that way. Pan uses glue but there are gaskets now made that work well and seal much better.

I change my fluid maybe every 60-75K miles depending on color.
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Old 03-20-2012, 05:34 AM   #5
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You can add a drain plug, or use this guy's method from the How-To located in our How-To Archive up there in the blue banner right under the thread name.

How to change automatic transmission fluid and filter

The only thing I don't agree with is starting the engine. I recommended he crank the engine to control fluid flow. If you start it, it literally takes like 5 seconds to pump all the fluid out. This will completely drain the fluid whereas draining simply the pan and dropping the pan to change the filter will only drain like 3-4 qts. With MerconV being $5/qt- it can get expensive to use this method. The only bonus is that it's much less messy. Partially unbolting the pan so you can drain fluid from a corner is tricky, and tends to be messy. Then the pan is still full of fluid. The pan will be full of fluid using this method as well- so be careful and take precautions to prevent spillage.
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Old 03-20-2012, 08:41 AM   #6
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The only thing I don't agree with is starting the engine. I recommended he crank the engine to control fluid flow.
Good point. Is disconnecting the coil plug the best way to "crank without starting"?
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Old 03-20-2012, 09:06 AM   #7
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I'm not sure where it's located, but on my old Taurus, I would disconnect the inertia switch.

Also, add a transmission cooler while you're at it.
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Old 03-20-2012, 01:15 PM   #8
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Just do a conventional filter and fluid change, this process generally changes 30-40% of the fluid as the torque converter retains more than half of the transmission fluid capacity generally. Now if the vehicle sits for a period of a week or so, the converter will drain back into the pan and more of the fluid can be changed. So with the conventional method, the new fluid is diluted by the existing fluid. so if you really want to change all the fluid then change the filter once, and just do a drain and refill ever 20k miles and eventually all the fluid will be changed.

I agree with the above posters that caution against the use of chemical flushes.
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Old 03-20-2012, 09:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjzx2sr View Post
Just do a conventional filter and fluid change, this process generally changes 30-40% of the fluid as the torque converter retains more than half of the transmission fluid capacity generally. Now if the vehicle sits for a period of a week or so, the converter will drain back into the pan and more of the fluid can be changed. So with the conventional method, the new fluid is diluted by the existing fluid. so if you really want to change all the fluid then change the filter once, and just do a drain and refill ever 20k miles and eventually all the fluid will be changed.

I agree with the above posters that caution against the use of chemical flushes.
probably

Last edited by Eastwood; 03-21-2012 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 03-21-2012, 03:54 PM   #10
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Better to yank fuel pump fuse or inertia plug to disable starting. Pump will try to flood motor with no ignition happening.

The so-called 3X fluid change. First time gets like 50% of fluid new, 2nd time 75%, and 3rd 87.5%, not much to be gained after that. You change the fluid in pan 3 times, expensive nowadays. I used to drive car 2 weeks between each change, also the reason behind installing drain plug, so no more pan removal.

I too have moved to just changing every 20-25K or so once. That keeps fluid in pretty good shape.
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