"Transmission Flush": Required ?

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Hello:

Have a '97 Buick Le Sabre with 60,000 miles on it.

Brought it back to the dealership today for an oil change, and they recommended (strongly) that I also have a "transmission flush" due to having 60K on it.

Didn't have it done.

Should I have ? Is this a good idea after only 60K ?

Guess in a way I was a bit concerned about lousing up the trans any, as it works fine.

Thoughts on ?

Thanks, Bob

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While I'm not a fan of flushing the transmission (I much prefer dropping the pan and changing the filter and gasket), regular maintenance is essential. I've heard of too many problems after a power flush, especially in vehicles like yours that have gone an extensive number of miles without proper service, so that's why I don't like it. You should probably go no further than 30,000 miles before having the fluid and filter changed - or less under severe driving conditions. 60,000 miles in 8 years doesn't sound too severe, however. You can look in your owner's manual for the recommended sevice intervals.

If you've not had any tranny service done in 60,000 miles then you're living on borrowed time. Tranny fluid does break down over time and can get contaminated. The internal filter will plug up over time which only hurts your tranny, causing loss of performance and overheating.

Cheers - Jonathan

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Robert11 wrote:

I always wonder how the myth got started with the old timers that transmission fluid should never be changed. The dealer was acting in your best interest in suggesting a flush. If you can't trust him to work on your car that's another matter.

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"Al Bundy" wrote:

No myth, the only time you need to do it is if it has been cooked and in the old days for us "old timers" they used to put drain plugs in torque converters so you could drain about everything out and they had plug on tranny pans too. Then they started to say that was because it really does not nedd changing and now they say they need flushing I have seen flushing cause problems and it is best not done as the only one that really benifits form flushing every time is the dealer and his bank account.

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SnoMan wrote:

You could shift those 1951 Fords into reverse with the vehicle moving 30mph. As long as you were careful not to touch the gas it wouldn't kill the trans either. Lots of them would go 100,000 miles and people did not change fluids. That's not good enough today. Maintenance is never a bad thing when done properly.

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SnoMan wrote:

At 60,000 miles he is due for a fluid change, IMHO the dealer was trying to suggest a useful service. If the OP doesn't want to pay for it he can drop the pan and change the fluid and filter himself, but I would do something.

nate

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Nate, the complete myth involves more than the cost. That's just his reason dejure. The myth says that it's a sealed system and nothing can enter unless someone opens the tranny up and then all hell can break lose. They qualify it by agreeing that if the fluid turns coal black then something could stand to be done. They overlook the fact that debris develops from within the system and does not show on the stick, if the car has one. And they assume that all the additives are working if the fluid is red. No amount of reasoning can change this belief.

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Al Bundy wrote:

Well... IMHO that is backwards. By the time the fluid is burnt looking there's likely enough varnish in there that doing a flush or fluid change *could* be harmful. Better to do preventative maintenance IMHO.

nate

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Al Bundy wrote:

Every system has to have some kind of breather opening to the atmosphere to allow for expansion and contraction pressure equalization. Even RWD differentials have a vent which opens to the outside air.

These are not "sealed" systems as all.

Also, transmission fluids are subject to oxidation just like any lubricant.

The one thing I agree with is that keeping transmission temperatures down is a big benefit both to transmission life and to fluid life.

It also makes plenty of sense to periodically change out the ATF by one means or another. Automatic transmission failures seem to be far more common on modern vehicles than are major engine failures, yet most people pay far more attention to engine oil chanes and other engine related preventative maintenance than they do to the transmission.

A similar situation exists with brake systems. Many of the European makers schedule a brake fluid flush once ever 2 years, yet most US and Japanese makers have no scheduled brake fluid flush. In this case the Europeans have it right. Brake fluid accumulates contaminants and looses the effectiveness of anti-corrosion additives which are in the fluid. Changing it periodically addresses these issues. There would be significantly fewer failed master cylinders and calipers if this basic fluid maintenance were carried out on all vehicles once every two years.

I really liked the old Shell advertising series back when the gas station was also a service station: "You can pay me now, or you can pay me later." The point was that the relatively minor cost of routine preventative maintenance is much less than the long term cost of more major repairs.

Now if only we could have greasable suspension joints installed routinely on modern cars!

John

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(snippage of_finally_an intelligent post on the trans. flush issue.)

And if they'd put drain plugs back in torque converters, there'd be little need for a trans. flush. Wonder how much they saved per vehicle when they screwed the consumer out of that transmission access?

Garrett Fulton

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Except one still should replace the filter.

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Literally millions, even if it only saved two dollars per vehicle. Over seventeen million new vehicles are sold annually in the US.

mike hunt

gfulton wrote:

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The difference in cost between flushing vs. changing fluid & filter: You could change the F&F more times for the money...it wouldn't get ALL the fluid, but would provide a fresh filter every time. Flushing changes all the fluid but not the filter, and is more expensive. Right? Just do one or the other. But I will say that if a tranny is waaay up there in miles without having been serviced--fluid really dirty, etc.--I wouldn't be surprised if a flush took it out within a short time (if you had such a car, would YOU flush it?)

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Yes, I most assuredly would flush it. About 4 years ago I found a '79 El Camino for my son that seemed to have been well-maintained by a mail carrier. All work done by a dealer and all receipts. I neglected looking at the trans. fluid, however, which was a mistake. When I got it home, I pulled the stick and it was worse than any trans. fluid I'd ever seen. I spent some time as an auto mechanic back in the '70's and I'd seen some bad fluid. This stuff stunk_bad_and looked like pink mud. The trans. was slipping some between shifts, not to the point that I wouldn't have bought the car, though. (THM-200 trans., 305 4 bbl.) I had it flushed at a place locally that I trusted. The fellow running the machine told me when he was finished that it took 32 qts. of fluid to clean it up. That's not a misprint. I asked him,"Man, how much is this going to cost me?" He replied,"Don't worry about it." If his boss knew he threw that much fluid at a job without tacking on an extra charge, he'd probably have been fired. Anyhow, that trans. shifted much better and lasted many, many more miles until we swapped it out for a THM 350 and a 400 small block. So the internet myth about never flushing a trans. that has been neglected is, in my opinion, total horseshit. I have all the trans. flushed regularly on all my cars, and change the filter when I get it home. They work good and last a long time.

Garrett Fulton

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How many miles did the El Camino have on it when you did that? How did long did it run afterwards? Having the trans fluid need changing that badly seems like a pretty glaring omission for a car that was otherwise serviced well. You actually didn't just have it flushed--you had it flushed about five times consecutively :-)

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As close as I can figure, from the records with the car, it had approx. 160,000 miles on it when I bought it. Plenty of reciepts for everything, all dealer work, but I didn't find anything about trans. fluid or filter changes. I could only assume it had the original fluid in it. I believe it got in excess of another 60,000 m. on it after the flush. Was shifting fine until the day we pulled it out. A THM-200 is not the trans. you want behind a heated up 400 small block.

Garrett

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Robert11 wrote:

Before GM started going on their "extended" maintenance interval kicks.....the standard transmission "service" was done at about 40K klms. You are at about twice that mileage, so a transmission service or "fluid exchange" would certainly not hurt. In your case, I'd be wanting to drop the pan and change the filter at the very least.

Ian

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"shiden_kai" wrote:

due

case,

You miss the point here, the main reason they push the power flush is $$$ in their pocket and you are nieve to think otherwise. Suddenly it is a good idea after all of these years. Detriot wants more excause to do more expensive maintaince on your vehical because with greatly reduced margins on new car sales they are looking more to service for additional revenues. A filter and fluid refill every 30 to 40K is just fine (you want to do that about every 15 to 20K in HD and towing use though) If doen improperly (which is possible as long a human is in the loop) it is possible to do more harm than good and best not done unless once again you have burnt fluid in it.

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SnoMan wrote:

As usual, you have no clue what you are talking about. I happen to work at a dealership and am quite familiar with why we recommend trans services or flushes. All fluid maintenance procedures are money in our pockets and you are "naive to think otherwise". So what? That's what we are in business for, to make money. The fact of the matter is that both procedures, a transmission service, and completely exchanging the fluid, are both acceptable ways of maintaining your transmission. The reason we use a machine is for productivity reasons, just like we use hoists to lift cars now, along with a whole host of other special tools that have been developed so that we can do more work in less time. Novel idea, eh?

It's only idiots like you that are still living in the 70's that caution people not to have this type of maintenance done.

Again, you show your complete lack of knowledge about what forces are driving things like fluid maintenance. Typical!

Anything that is done improperly can do more harm then good. What's your point, Einstein!

Ian

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Robert11 wrote:

The pan should be dropped so that the filter can be changed and accumulated sludge cleaned out of the bottom of the pan. Shops all love the power flush machines because they are quick and very profitable to run. However, the machine does not replace the filter or clean the pan properly. I also do not trust the solvent many of those machine proceedures run through the transmission.

That said, a power flush is far better than doing nothing at 60,000 miles. GM (and almost every other company) puts far too long of a recommended usefull life on the factory fill ATF IMO.

John

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