'02 300M: Change power steering and automatic transmission fluids -- difficult?

126K miles now. I don't know whether the power steering fluid has ever been replaced; I don't recall the need to do so ever having been mentioned. A transmission problem was fixed under the extended warranty just before 70K miles, and I assume that they did not save and reuse the old fluid -- but with that dealer I wouldn't be too sure.
What should I expect to pay to have somebody do it? Is it worth it to avoid the possible hassle?
Reply to
Percival P. Cassidy
I'm a believer in replacing the Tranny fluid at regular intervals as called for by the Manufacturer. But I think it's called for at perhaps 100K for your vehicle (just a guess). I also agree with the manufacturers I'm familiar with which don't call for changing the PS fluid. Leave well enough alone. I would only change it if the pump or rack had to be replaced.
Reply to
Ashton Crusher
According to the service pamphlet that should be in the glove box, you should have already had the power steering and differential fluid changed already. Mine has been, probably 5 years ago.
You and I both are at about the right time for the transmission fluid and filter to be changed. I had my timing belt changed 2 years ago, and I'd say that you should get that done now - you're over due. Along with changing the timing belt, change the serpentine belt, water pump, timing belt pulley and tensioner and a couple of gaskets / seals inside the timing belt cover. I kept my old timing belt and water pump. And because the water pump was changed, I have new coolant (it still had the original factory coolant - 11 years old and never added water).
Reply to
MoPar Man

I look at the service schedule from time to time without necessarily remembering it all, but basically I had been relying on my (since no-longer authorized) Chrysler dealer to tell me what needed to be done when -- but supposing he'd rather get paid for a repair than for a much-cheaper service?
But what about the other part of my question: how difficult and messy to change those fluids? Worth paying to have it done?
Reply to
Percival P. Cassidy

My memory is failing (as SWMBO keeps reminding me -- as if I needed reminding): When I Googled for further information about doing this, I came across a post of my own from 2007 in which I reported having found the recommendation in the manual to change the power steering fluid every 48K miles and bringing it to the 5-Star dealer's attention, only to be told, "You're right: it is recommended, but I don't think we've ever done it on any vehicle."
But I don't recall whether I ever did insist that they do it.
And it seems that there is a question of what fluid is required -- ATF+4 or something else, with which ATF+4 is incompatible.
Reply to
Percival P. Cassidy
What I have done on some cars is to use a turkey baster and suck out as much of the fluid as you can from the reservoir. Refill with new. If you want you can then drive a week and repeat. That's really what most transmission fluid changes amount to, it's rare that they actually drain all the fluid when they do those.
Reply to
Ashton Crusher
The glove-box owners manual for my '00 300M lists the following for Service Schedule "A" (normal duty):
Oil and oil-filter changes at:
- 7,500 miles (12,000 km) or at 6 months - 15,000 miles (24,000 km) or at 12 months (1 year) - 22,500 miles (36,000 km) or at 18 months - 30,000 miles (48,000 km) or at 24 months (2 years) - 37,500 miles (60,000 km) or at 30 months - 45,000 miles (72,000 km) or at 36 months (3 years) - 52,500 miles (84,000 km) or at 42 months - 60,000 miles (96,000 km) or at 48 months (4 years) - 67,500 miles (108,000 km) or at 54 months - 75,000 miles (120,000 km) or at 60 months (5 years) - 82,500 miles (132,000 km) or at 66 months - 90,000 miles (144,000 km) or at 72 months (6 years) - 97,500 miles (156,000 km) or at 78 months - 105,000 miles (160,000 km) or at 84 months (7 years)
(book doesn't go beyond that time-frame)
It appears that I had 8 oil/filter changes during the first 55,000 km (4 years of ownership) or about 6,900 km between oil changes.
Air filter is always supposed to be checked at each oil change (and replaced if necessary) - but manditory air filter changes are supposed to happen:
- 30,000 miles (48,000 km) or at 24 months (2 years) - 60,000 miles (96,000 km) or at 48 months (4 years) - 90,000 miles (144,000 km) or at 72 months (6 years)
Engine coolant is listed as:
- Flush and replace engine coolant at 60 months (5 years)
At 100,000 miles (160,000 km) regardless of time interval:
- Replace spark plugs - Replace ignition cables (??? 300m has coil-packs) - Replace timing belt - Flush and replace engine coolant if not done at 60 months
These items are not listed under any sort of replacement schedule:
- fuel filter - brake fluid - PCV valve (does the 300m have one?) - serpentine belt (aka "drive belt" ?) - battery - power steering fluid - differential fluid
The existance of the differential (and hence - differential fluid) is not even mentioned in the owners manual. Reading some accounts on-line, some people didn't even know their LH car had a differential, and even some dealer service garages didn't know (or didn't know enough to include changing the fluid as part of a service program). I found the following resource (see below) describing changing the differential fluid.
The owner's manual says this about transmission fluid and filter changes:
-------- Automatic transmission fluid and filter should be changed as follows: Maintenance schedule "A" - No changes necessary.
Maintenance schedule "B" - Every 48,000 miles (77,000 km), change fluid and filter under the following conditions: - more than 50% of vehicle operation is in stop and go traffic where the vehicle is driven regularly for more than 45 minutes of continuous operation, such as in heavy city traffic of construction-zone traffic - Police, taxi, limousine, commercial type operation or trailer towing -------
So clearly the transmission fluid and filter is designed to last at least 100k miles and/or 7 years, so changing it any time after that probably wouldn't hurt.
Now for the part about changing the differential fluid:
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How To: Changing Differential Fluid
This is definitely a project you can do over halftime. It shouldn't take any more time than an engine oil change. The cost for the project is less than $10 assuming that you already own common hand tools.
Here is what you'll need:
Common automotive hand tools INCLUDING a deep 30mm socket. A 1 1/8" socket will do if you don't have a 30mm.
Why a deep socket? The placement of the differential fluid fill port is such that using a deep socket makes it easier. There are some very hot surfaces just forward and above the fill port (watch your hands). You can certainly use a short socket for this project. A flexible extension is nice to have too.
1 quart of 75-90w Hypoid Gear Lube. Cost for this is about $8-. The DCX manuals say to avoid synthetic lube but do not explain why. However the Kings of Synth, Amsoil, make both a synthetic AND a conventional gear lube. So there must be something going on in the differential or with the seals that make it worth while for Amsoil to make a non-synth product.
Oil drain pan, you'll be draining about 1 qt of fluid.
Small funnel with a 12" hose. Shop rags. Floor jack and stands. Wheel Chocks.
Place the quart bottle of gear lube in the sun. Why? 90w lube is pretty thick. If you don't want to wait forever for the quart to drain through the funnel and hose, warm the fluid up some.
Drive around the block to heat up the fluid in the differential. Park the car on a level surface. Set the parking brake. Chock the right rear and left front tires for safety. You'll be removing the passenger side front tire. Loosen the nuts at this time.
Find the jacking point behind the passenger side front tire. Jack up the car enough to be able to remove the tire. Put a jack stand along side the floor jack for safety.
Look at the axle half-shaft as it runs from the rotor/hub into the differential. Just forward of the half-shaft is the 30mm fill plug.
Look under the differential. You'll find a recessed drain plug that will take a 1/4" driver. DO NOT use a ratchet handle for this. Use a screwdriver handle. The differential casing is aluminum, the torque from even a short ratchet handle will strip things out.
Use a shop rag and wipe the road grime from around the drain plug. Slide the oil pan under the differential and remove the drain plug. Don't drop the drain plug into the oil pan, the drain plug is actually pretty small, don't lose it!
Use Yet Another shop rag to remove the road grime from around the fill port. Remove the fill plug from the top of the differential. There should be a heavy-duty plastic tag there that lists the fluid spec. Be careful at this point, there are very hot surfaces around the fill port, watch your knuckles.
Go have a drink or smoke. Let the fluid drain. Some people advocate putting the tranny in neutral and then manually turning the exposed brake rotor a few times to spin the differential in the hopes that more fluid will come out. Personally I believe that the danger of taking the car out of Park out-weighs any possible benefit of draining another ounce or two of fluid. Just make sure that the car is warm/hot when you start and all that fluid should come running out on its own.
Replace the drain plug. When tightening, use ONLY the screwdriver handle to avoid stripping out the threads.
Connect up that 12" section of hose to your small funnel. Jam the end of the hose into the fill port and then jam the small funnel into the steering linkage just above (see photos).
Slowly pour the full quart of new gear lube in. The differential should take just about the full quart. The fill indication is when you can put a finger into the fill port and just feel the fluid level inside. You ARE going to spill some of the new lube (you did leave the oil pan underneath to catch the inevitable drips, right???)
Get the funnel and hose out of the way and BY HAND, gently thread the fill plug back into the differential. You are still working with aluminum parts, be careful.
Snug down the fill plug. It may seem that the fill plug isn't seating fully, DO NOT FORCE IT! The fill plug is designed to stick out a bit to accomodate that plastic tag you took off earlier.
Clean up the tools and oil pan, replace the tire, lower the car. Check for leaks, drive it around the block a few times, check for leaks again.
That's it. ===================
Reply to
MoPar Man

The Owner's Manual for our '02 model says to change the differential fluid and A/T fluid and filter at 48K miles and the P/S fluid at 60K miles. I've just done the "incremental change" method for the P/S fluid: siphon out the fluid from the reservoir, then refill with new fluid, repeat two or more times. I've bought an A/T filter and gasket set and also differential fluid but haven't yet tackled those jobs.
Reply to
Percival P. Cassidy

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