1999 OHV 4.0L Transmission Fluid Change

Can anyone provide the mileage interval for transmission fluid change? The vehicle has about 35,000 (largely city) miles on it. The manual
mentions Merkon (or Merkon V) but the Ford dealer (with one of those near-100% extraction systems) "thinks" the vehicle may need synthetic fluid which bumps the service up from $120 to $160.
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I change my transmission fluid every 25,000 miles. Ford usually recommends changing it every 30,000 miles if you operate your vehicle under severe conditions (Towing a trailer or using a camper or car-top carrier; Extensive idling and/or low-speed driving for long distances as in heavy commercial use such as delivery, taxi or patrol car; Operating in dusty conditions such as unpaved or dusty roads; Off-road operation). Some Ford transmissions are supposedly "sealed for life" but this is not something I believe (at least not yet).
The flluid type should be indicated on the transmission dipstick. Don't use the wrong type! See http://www.ofoc.ca/garage/TSB%2001-15-7.pdf for a transmission fluid usage chart. I believe, but am not 100% cetain, that your vehicle requires Mercon V (Ford XT-5-QM). If your dealer doesn't know this, find a different dealer. If your vehicle requires Mercon V, stay away from fluids that claim to meet both Mercon V and Mercon standards.
From http://www.motorcraft.com/standard.asp?T=2&MD&PageIDt :
"MERCON V Automatic Transmission Fluid - An approved MERCON fluid - Increased protection against wear, deposits, rust and corrosion - Improved low-temperature shifting - Guards against transmission shudder - Engineered and recommended by Ford Motor Company for use in automatic transmissions ONLY where MERCON V is specified. - Use for all AODE and 4R70W transmissions "
Ed
Right Lane wrote:

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If not "severe duty" generally you monitor the fluid colour and clarity and then only change it if it doesn't look good (should be nice and pink/red for mercon) -- this is what my dealer told me. If you do change it (and I don't think you need to so early if you're not towing trailers or doing other "severe duty" stuff) make sure they drop the pan and change the filter for the first change anyway. If it's the 5 speed auto then it's definitely Mercon V - don't accept substitutes or additives as C.E. said.
--
Allan Williams



"C. E. White" < snipped-for-privacy@mindspring.com> wrote in message
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I have a 2001 Explorer with 31,000 miles on it. I called my regular mechanic to set up an appointment to get the fluid and filter changed. I also asked him to flush my radiator at the same time.
The price he quoted me knocked me off my feet, $360!!!! He said this would include "pumping out" the tranny and refilling it as well as some "conditioner". Ditto for the coolant.
Anybody else think this is a pretty steep price, or is it just me???
Larry C

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Looks about normal..... 40 or 50 bux for fluid.... another 20 for the filter...... 20 or so for coolant. OK, we're getting 100ish for parts and materials. Leaves 260 which is about 3 hours of shop time...... pretty close to how long it's going to take.
How much do you feel would be a proper charge for the job?
Jim Warman snipped-for-privacy@telusplanet.net

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I was hoping about a $100 less (wish in one hand and **** in the other, as Grandpa used to say). I got back with the shop and found that a significant part of this cost was the use of some conditioner in both the tranny and coolant. I can't remember the name, but I guess if you use their product and follow their recommended change schedule they will extend your warrantee out to 150K miles (the supplier has a fluid for just about everything). Interesting idea, but I don't think I am going for it at this time. The "new" price without the conditioner is $209. Your hours for the service pretty much match their estimate and I'll take your word for it on the fluids cost. One thing they told me is that because they use a pump to force out the old and bring in the new tranny fluid, they don't need to drop the pan and change the fluid. I guess it's just a screen type. Does this sound right by you?
Thanks,
Larry

asked
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I've worked in shops that use a transmission flushing machine, at one point I thought they were the cats meow...... I'm not entirely sure, now.......
Using a flushing machine certainly makes the fluid exchange process less messy and less time consuming on vehicles without a torque convertor drain but changing the fluid without changing the filter reminds me of washing my feet and putting my dirty socks back on. At the price of tranmission repairs these days, I'm not so sure I like the idea of adding strange chemicals to the mix (quite unlike my younger days when I thought 'some' strange chemicals were rather pleasant). Additionally, some shops have resorted to using additives to "change" Dexron2/Mercon to Mercon 5 or what ever other flavour is required..... these reduce the shops stocking requirements but add appreciably to the consumer cost (more than $20CA last I checked) - Mother Fords admonishment to avoid using these, not-with-standing.
I currently work for a Ford dealer...... I will grant that the method we use for a transmission fluid change sounds rather Neanderthal (change the filter, refill the pan, disconnect the cooler return side and direct the flow into a graduated container.... run the motor and add as much fluid as we remove) but it works well and provides satisfactory results. As I had indicated, the fluid exchange machine is more convenient but, since the shop needs to recoup the cost of the machine, I can see it adding to the cost of the service rather than reducing the cost of the service.
I would recommend refusing the "pretreatment" (the cleaning solution) as well as the conditioner (usually used to try and combat the aftereffects of pretreatment that wasn't recovered) but insist on a filter change.
Many companies that offer fluid additives will extend manufacturers warrantees if we only use their products...... unfortunately, these warrantees are usually so bound up in lawyerese mumbo-jumbo that no one is really sure what constitutes a warrantable failure...... no one except the guy writing the cheque, anyway. Quaker State always used to advertise that they would cover any oil related failures..... try and prove that one....... A tossed rod bearing???? Nope. that'd be a mechanical failure likely due to lack of service (try any other variations on the theme).
Shop rates may seem high..... some shops (unfortunately) are busy fleecing their customers while others are using the funds wisely...... employee training, diagnostic equipment and manuals, etc. Sadly, we don't know the difference until we have paid the bill.
Jim Warman snipped-for-privacy@telusplanet.net

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Jim I picked my '01 XLT up from the shop tonight after having them flush & refill the tranny and the cooling system. When I got home I was looking over the receipt and noticed that they listed Dexron as the fluid used. I went to the Valvoline website and did some checking and they specifiically state that Dexron is not an acceptable substitute for Mercon V (which the owners manual calls for). I called the shop and told them what I had found. They are going to contact their Valvoline rep tomorrow AM and then call me (evidently didn't realize that Mercon V was the call out). What do you think? I think they should be flushing and refilling my tranny with the proper fluid at no cost to me tomorrow. I am also concerned about any damage this may have caused my transmission. It will probably have been driven 30-40 miles by the time I can get it back to them.
You sage advice and wisdom is appreciated.
Larry C

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Given the short distance and no towing, I would think that no appreciable transmission life has been lost. I know the wrong fluid in a Taurus trans will kill it in short order, the 4R70 seems to be able to handle it reasonably well (but you can still expect a fluid related failure with continued use) and I'm not totally sure about the 5R55.
The shop should both exchange the fluid for free and be thoroughly spanked for not checking fluid requirements. Full synthetic fluid, according to mother Ford, is an acceptable substitute... otherwise MerconV should be used. The differences between Mercon and MerconV are, AFAIK, quite subtle but they exist none-the-less... As a paying consumer, you should at least receive the benefits of the correct fluid specification when your car is serviced.
As a small sidebar, Ford doesn't not recommend or condone the use of "modifiers".... these are used by some shops to magically change Dexron to the required flavour. They might work but, at the price of transmission work, I can't see myself rolling the dice. The right oil is generally comparable in price to the wrong oil...
HTH
Jim Warman snipped-for-privacy@telusplanet.net

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Give the dealer a big thumbs down....... 8 mouse clicks and I know that the workshop manual specifies Mercon V for both the 4R70W and the 5R55E. I had to check because I don't see these often.
This took me all of 30 or so seconds using the DVD manuals....... you might mention this fact to your dealer when you're asking for an explanation....

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Jim and all After speaking to the folks at my garage they clarified things a little. The fluid they pumped in was not plain Dexron . It was Dexron III MaxLife (seems their computer hasn't been updated with the "MaxLife" info for the service and so it printed out just Dexron). I sent an email to Valvoline and got the letter below as a response (fyi when I attached this file it was rejected by the news server??). Basically they say it is a legitimate substitute for Mercon V and will not void my warantee. I talked to a service tech at my Ford dealer and he agreed, so I guess I'm OK.
Just a little un-nerving
Thanks again, Larry
THOMAS R. SMITH
Technical Director, Valvoline Brand
Phone: (859) 357-2766
Fax: (859) 357-7610
e-mail: snipped-for-privacy@ashland.com
August 14, 2003
To Whom It May Concern:
Valvoline has received several inquiries regarding the topic of MaxLife' ATF and its use in various vehicles
beyond those requiring Dexron III or Mercon approved products. In response to these questions Valvoline has
issued the following statements:
. Valvoline supports the use of MaxLife ATF in a broad range of transmissions beyond those requiring
Dexron III and Mercon fluids including those where the following fluids are recommended:
o GM Dexron II
o Ford Mercon V
o Allison C4
o Chrysler ATF+3" or ATF+4" fluids
o Toyota (and Lexus) Type T, T-III or T-IV fluids
o Mitsubishi Diamond SP-II or SP-III fluids
o Hyundai
o Honda ATF-Z1 fluid (except in CVTs)
o BMW LT71141 or LA2634 fluids
o Nissan J-Matic Fluid
. Valvoline has conducted in-house testing to support MaxLife ATF performance in these transmissions.
However, it is important to note that these vehicle manufacturers have neither evaluated nor approved
MaxLife ATF.
. Valvoline stands behind all of its products, including MaxLife ATF. Use of MaxLife ATF in transmissions
where recommended by Valvoline WILL NOT void the vehicle's warranty. In the unlikely event that any
transmission was to be damaged as a result of the use of MaxLife ATF, please contact Valvoline at 1-800-
Team-VAL.
While MaxLife ATF is designed to meet the special needs of higher mileage transmissions, new transmissions can
also benefit from its enhanced oxidation protection and anti-shudder protection and many consumers have chosen to
take advantage of this level of performance.
Please note that we have not done extensive testing on the new 5 and 6 speed transmissions that are now being
introduced. We would recommend contacting your Valvoline representative before using MaxLife in these
applications.
Valvoline does not recommend MaxLife ATF for use in continuously variable transmissions (CVT's) or in
automatic transmissions where Ford Type F is recommended.
Sincerely,
Thom Smith
Technical Director
Valvoline Brand
THE VALVOLINE COMPANY . A DIVISION OF ASHLAND INC. . P.O. BOX 14000 . LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY 40512 . (859) 357-7000
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