Scheduled Maintenance - Transmission Fluid Service
Automatic transmission fluid is specially formulated oil ™ containing numerous additives to withstand grueling operating conditions. There are several different types of automatic transmission fluids and should be used according to the recommendation in your car's owner's manual.
Some examples include:
DEXRON® III/MERCON® - Recommended for all automatic transmissions requiring DEXRON® III, DEXRON® IIE, DEXRON® II, DEXRON® or MERCON ® transmission fluids. It can also be used where fluids meeting Ford ESP-M2C138CJ or Ford M2C166-H specifications are required.
ATF+3® -- Formulated exclusively for Chrysler Corp. automatic transmissions/transaxles where a Chrysler MS-7176, Mopar® or Mopar ATF+3® is specified.
Type F (FLM) is a specially compounded fluid meeting the latest Ford ESW-M2C33F and is compatible with all M2C33 series Ford specifications. In all 1983 and later model Ford automatic transmissions use DEXRON ® III/MERCON ® or MERCON ® V Automatic Transmission Fluids.
Automatic transmission fluid serves a multitude of purposes. Among other things, it cleans, cools, lubricates, transmits force, transmits pressure, inhibits varnish build-up and protects the transmission on a day-to-day basis.
Owner's manual recommendations on transmission fluid changes vary considerably and may go as high as 160,000 kilometres or more. For best results, have your car's transmission fluid and filter changed every two years or 40,000 kilometres. Always use the type of fluid specified by your car's manufacturer. This information can be found in the owner's manual or on the end of the transmission dipstick.
The overwhelming majority of transmission failures are heat-related, and automatic transmission fluid breaks down rapidly when subjected to high temperatures. Driving conditions such as trailer towing, quick stops and starts, ascending and descending mountains, and wheel-spinning in slippery conditions are but a few scenarios that can devastate the life of the transmission fluid. Although changing the fluid yourself is not difficult, it's probably best left to a qualified service technician. This is also a good time to drain the transmission fluid from the torque converter, if possible. Consult your technician to see if this can be done.
Automatic transmissions/transaxles use a filter on the inlet side of the transmission’s hydraulic pump. Different types of filtering media may be used including a fine mesh screen, paper, or felt for filtering media.
A transmission filter prevents harmful contaminants from entering the hydraulic system, where they can increase wear and cause scoring and sticking of hydraulic control valves. Additionally, if a major part fails inside the transmission, the filter may prevent pieces of that part from contributing to a more catastrophic transmission failure. Normally transmission filters trap metal chips from hard parts like gears and bushings and the normal fine material that results from wear of the hydraulic clutch facings and bands.
Your car’s automatic transmission filter and fluid should be changed periodically according to the schedule in your owner’s manual. Although some maintenance schedules may claim that the transmission fluid or filter doesn’t need to be changed for the life of the car, remember that the average driving situation falls into the "severe" maintenance category due to short trips and stop-and-go driving. Some shops offer transmission flushing and filling, which is intended to remove more contaminants than simple draining of the transmission. If you decide to have this service performed, make sure that the transmission pan will be removed in order to change the filter before refilling it with new fluid. If the filter is not replaced, contaminants from the old fluid, along with those dislodged during the flushing process, could impair flow through the filter and lead to transmission problems.
||For information and further detail on WHAT these items are, HOW they work and WHY it is important to keep them maintained, please visit Car Care Canada who have provided a series of wonderful diagrams and descriptions.