Max Life Tranny Fluid

I understand Valvoline makes what they call "Max Life Tranny Fluid" that's supposed to be compatible with all the others. (Haven't we
heard that before).
Does anyone know if on the short term, is this fluid harmful?
Thanks for your help.
-
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I have an e-mail from Valvoline dated 10/11/2002 where I asked them this point blank, here it is:
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From: snipped-for-privacy@ashland.com; on behalf of; snipped-for-privacy@ashland.com
Th formulation of the Max-Life ATF has been tested and can be used for Chrysler ATF +3 and ATF+4 applications. This is the only product recommended for ATF+4 from Valvoline. For more information, please feel free to contact our technical hotline at 1-800-354-8957, thank you very much.

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Now, here's my 50 cent analysis of all this.
There are really only 2 characteristics of the transmission fluid that we care about with these transmissions. The first is are the frictional characteristics of the fluid what the transmission computer expects? The second is are the chemical characteristics of the fluid compatible with the transmission - ie: will it adequately lubricate the parts, will it not rot out the seals, will it maintain the same frictional characteristics under heat and shear forces, will it not cause the clutches to dissolve, etc.
The Allpar site has some interesting speculation as to what the computer does if the fluid frictional characteristics are wrong - unfortunately no suggested experiments with a scan tool or other observational experiments are listed, so it remains speculation. That is, if we deliberately rebuild a transmission and use the wrong fluid in it, can we take the transmission apart later and find a specific wear pattern that's directly attributable to the wrong fluid?
The Allpar site also has a tiny bit of speculation of what the wrong fluid will do chemically - I personally discount the idea that the wrong fluid will damage seals as the same seals used in the Chrysler transmission are undoubtedly used in parts from completely different manufacturers where ATF isn't even present. For that matter, in the AWD transmissions, because of the PTU the RH axle seal is in contact with gear oil while the LH seal is in contact with ATF - and they are the same seal part #. And as for dissolving the clutch packs - while I could possibly believe that this might be true with Mopar clutches, it would not make sense with aftermarket ones as their goal is to reduce warranty claims so why would they deliberately use a clutch material that was incompatible with Dexron?
So, setting aside the chemical issue, it comes down to the frictional characteristics.
Now, we know that per Valvoline, ATF +3 has different frictional characteristics than Dexron II - why? Because Valvoline makes both ATF +3 and Dexron. If Valvoline believed Dexron II and ATF +3 were the same, then they would have come out with a universal transmission fluid a long time ago.
And we also know that per Chrysler, ATF +3 and ATF +4 have the same frictional characteristics - why? Because Chrysler claims ATF +4 is completely compatible with transmissions run on ATF +3.
But when Valvoline says that MaxLife is the same as ATF +4, then we have a logic error.
If Valvoline really thought that MaxLife was an ATF +4 replacement, then they would stop producing ATF +3 since Maxlife would have that covered - since ATF +3 and +4 are the same.
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My reading of the latest Chrysler notice on this subject still states that +3 is still needed in certain pre 2000 transmissions, such as those used in the mini-van. If I am reading this notice wrong please set the record streight. If true it would be consistant with previsious Chrysler notices that + 4 in these transmissions could cause clutch chatter if the computer is put through its re-training function. This would confirm that the frictional characteristics between +3 and +4 are different.
Richard.

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"Richard" <rfeirste at nycap.rr.com> wrote in message

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in
Please post the notice date that your reading. Here are the latest notices I've seen:
Chrysler Group Press Release 8-12-2005 http://www.dodgetalk.com/forums/showthread.php?tg046
ILMA article about this: http://ilma.enewsletterpress.com/news/default.aspx?IIDc
From the press release:
"ATF+4 is approved for use in older transmissions and will be utilized in all future Chrysler Group vehicles. The previous MOPAR ATF+3 formulation will be discontinued and ATF+4 is recommended for all transmissions filled with ATF+3."
Nothing is stated about minivans.
Also, from the
"Chrysler Corporation 41TE/AE Transaxle Service/Diagnostic Procedures & Refinements Manual" (the green book, 1998)
page 4, General Information:
This manual covers the following vehicles equipped with the 41TE Transaxle:
1989-1995 AA Spirit/Acclaim/Lebaron 1989-1993 AC Dynasty/New Yorker 1989-1998 AS/NS Minivan 1990-1993 AY Fifth Ave./Imperial 1990-1993 AG Daytona 1990-1995 AJ Lebaron 1993-1994 AP Shadow/Sundance
Page 35, Parts Required if TCM Replacement in Necessary: (TSB #18-24-95)
Part No. Trans. Control Module and Model Application -------------------------------------------------------------
4686606 1993-1995 AA, AC, AG, AJ, AP, AS, ES, & AY
To put it simply, according to the Chrysler TSB the transmission computer used in all these transmissions is THE SAME COMPUTER.
Also from this book:
page 582, 12.1 41TE Production And Service Transaxles 1989-1997
Year Production# OTGR Application Notes . . 1994 4659 072 2.49:1 3.0L AJ, AP, & AS Body . .
In other words, in 1994 the EXACT SAME PRODUCTION VERSION OF THE 41TE TRANSMISSION WAS USED IN LeBarons, Shadow/Sundances, & Minivans.
And I'm not just talking about the same model with production variances IT IS EXACTLY THE SAME PRODUCTION NUMBER, EXACTLY THE SAME TRANSMISSION
So, your notice was basically bunk the day it was written because the IDENTICAL transmissions were used in the sedans and minivans, for at least 1 year - 1994.
And moreover, per this manual, there are only THREE rebuild kits for the 41TE they are:
Part Number Application Model Year
4638425 41TE ( A 604) 1989 4638424 41TE ( A 604) 1990-1992 4856090 41TE ( A 604) 1993-1998
Thus while you could argue that some minivans might have got different clutch materials, if they are rebuilt they all get the same clutches.
I will also mention that this manual claims clutch chatter is a symptom of old, worn out fluid.
Now, please keep this in mind. When Chrysler introduced ATF +4 they were pricing it at roughly $6 a quart. Compared to ATF +3 available in the aftermarket at $2 a quart. Naturally Chrysler makes a lot more money of people are using ATF +4 than ATF +3, so they had a vested interest in recommending ATF +4 for ALL vehicles.
So they did this - except they had had so much trouble with this transmission in the Minivan that they didn't dare give anyone any more ammo to demand a replacement transmission by suggesting that the fluid they origionally put into the minivans might be substandard. And why were they having so much more trouble with these transmissions in Minivans? It's because the van is heaver, and hauls around a lot more heavy stuff, plus is often used for towing. And it's much more common to use a minivan in stop-and-go city driving, hauling around kids, than a home-to-work commuter vehicle that runs mostly on the freeway.
Ted
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Ted Mittelstaedt wrote: <<SNIP>>
t cause the clutches to dissolve, etc.

<<SNIP>>
<<snip>>
Question one, in your (professional?) opinion will _changing fluid often_ and possibly _providing additional fluid cooling/filtering_ enhance transmission life, 1,
and 2,
is there a good way to reprogram or address this computer using a laptop or PDA in lieu of the assuredly insanely priced scan tool?
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I would go with the 'net wisdom on this one which is to follow the severe schedule for transmission fluid changes for your vehicle - the exception is if you use ATF +4 in a vehicle that originally shipped with ATF +3, then follow a severe duty schedule for a later model of that vehicle that shipped with ATF +4. I forget the mileage intervals and don't have them handy right now. As long as the fluid is checked regularly and kept at the full line.
An additional trans cooler is almost a requirement unless your living in a climate that gets freezing temps on a regular basis. They are inexpensive and easy to mount and plumb in.

For 1995 and earlier vehicles, pick up a used OTC scantool and a CCD bus adapter off Ebay.
For 1996 and later, I think your SOL.
But, all an expensive scantool can do with these transmissions that is more interesting than retrieving codes (which on 1996 and later, an OBD-II scanner available at any auto parts store should be able to do) is to read CVIs, trigger a quick learn, run a series of tests that check out clutches and such, and set the pinion factor. It cannot reprogram shift points or any of that.
This is a very pedestrian trans which IMHO mainly uses the computer to extract every last drop of gas mileage out of the vehicle, in an effort to let them make the vehicle bigger and heavier and still meet CAFE. It could probably have been designed a completely mechanical transmission.
Ted
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