ATF: To change or not to change?

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Debating on changing the atf in my expedition before towing a 2,000lbs pop up 6-7 hours out to the hills. Last change was at 109k. Currently at 159k. Lots of highway, daily driving and a fair bit of towing in the 50k. Fluid looks good and transmission works perfectly. Just debating on doing it now or waiting another 10k. Money, mostly... Thoughts?
 
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Change it if you like but if it was changed at that previous mileage I would not say its a rush. 2000 pounds is not a transmission busting weight. Just do a quick fluid exchange and leave the filter if it was changed prior.
 
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OP said, "Fluid looks good...". What exactly does that mean? Get 2 identical 1/2 oz. containers and draw off a tiny sample now and again after your trip? See if there's a discernible difference.
 
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If your transmission pan doesn't have a drain plug, consider buying an aftermarket pan that includes one. Makes things much easier smile
 
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Since you asked meboarder, I assume that means you will probably sleep better if you change it now, even though it is not needed to towing such a light load with a big Expedition. Ed
 

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Originally Posted By: JTK
Was it changed prior to the 109K mile point?
By the looks of the fluid at that time, I doubt it. the fluid was very dark. not burnt, just a lot of PM suspended in the fluid.
Originally Posted By: BrianF
Change it if you like but if it was changed at that previous mileage I would not say its a rush. 2000 pounds is not a transmission busting weight. Just do a quick fluid exchange and leave the filter if it was changed prior.
not real worried about the weight. a few years ago I hauled our pop up out there with my v8 explorer. the hills are surprisingly steep. some are much steeper than you would find on the interstate, a few approach 10% I would guess. with the explorer, I locked it into 2nd gear and held 3,000 rpm up and down the hills for the last 15 or 20 miles of the drive. I know it will work some, that's all. even when I'm not hauling a camper, I usually make the last stretch of the drive in 3rd, just to eliminate shifting. filter was not changed at 109k and would not be changed this time either. According to the guys that design them, if the filter is plugged it is because the trans has failed. they don't filter enough to worry about changing during a lifecycle (250k).
Originally Posted By: Kira
OP said, "Fluid looks good...". What exactly does that mean? Get 2 identical 1/2 oz. containers and draw off a tiny sample now and again after your trip? See if there's a discernible difference.
it looks better than it did at 109k smile if I had a good way of sampling it I would do just that, though.
Originally Posted By: OilyWaterMIXER
Originally Posted By: Colt45ws
Change it.
approved Drain and fill. Dont flush.
they guy I go to uses a BG fluid exchange machine. it uses the cooler lines to do the exchange. out with the old, in with the new. no pressure involved. I'm comfortable with the process as I've had 4 or 5 transmission serviced by this shop using this machine. He also uses a full synthetic (BG, I assume) multi-vehicle fluid. Again, with the number of transmissions I've had done, I'm comfortable with the fluid choice too. I'm just hung up on the miles, I guess. that 50-60k range is where I like to be for a service interval. that and I've been beating the tar out of it with our travel trailer. the pop up will be a cake-walk by comparison. I'll probably ask my guy to do it and let him talk me out of it smile he's good about not taking your money just to take it. he's told me several times to wait on stuff if he thinks it is not really needed at that time. if I were going to do this in my driveway, I'd use Amsoil OE. but I don't think I have time to mess with it. thanks for all the input! keep 'em coming smile
 
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Modern vehicles have a lock up torque converter. When it is unlocked and pulling a tall gear or heavy load is when the fluid heats up very quickly. select lower gears to go up a grade and try to keep the tranny from cycling too much. Heat is the enemy. If the fluid is not scorched no need to change but if it makes you feel better go ahead.
 
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Check and see if your torque converter has a drain bolt on it. If it does, you can get 13 quarts out of the torque converter and pan alone. I just did my friend's Expedition that way.
 
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If money is an issue, you are fine until a more feasible time and/ or the next sale. 2000 lbs on that tank will be nothing.
 

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Thought id update after the trip. Pulled out and back with no real issues, but I do think it is time for a change. I was able to pull across the state in OD with the cruise set at 70mph without any troubles. On the steepest of hills would make it drop down to 3rd. (until, that is until I got into the hills where 2nd gear was required due to lower speeds and 5,000+ft elevations) What I did notice is that the 4-3 downshift would flare slightly if the trans temp was above 180f. Below 180f, no flare at all. So the fluid might be degrading such that the viscosity is too low as the temps climb. Mostly the trans ran between 175 and 190 depending on terrain. Outside temps were between 95-104f. And the truck and trailer were both packed full, so I'm happy with the performance,overall. That higher temp flare makes me think its time to change it out.
 
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You could do what I do and get one of those pumps and just suck as much ATF as you can out of the dipstick hole and refill with the same amount. It makes it super easy. I do this every 30K miles on my vehicles. Sure it only gets 4-5 quarts out, but continually refreshing the fluid seems to work well.
 
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pop-ups are easy to pull. it's not the weight as much as it is the frontal area... which they have very little of. On top of that, it's light. And if you are paying attention to the speed ratings of the trailer tires, you'll be under 65. therefore, not critical. OTOH, 60k is enough miles in my book to warrant a change, so I'd plan for it at some point. I've seen a good number of Expi's on factory fill at 150k driving fine, so I suspect for daily driving they are overbuilt.
 
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