"Sealed lifetime transmissions"

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Seriously, whoever came up with these things needs to be forced to do fluid changes on them for the rest of their lives. Here is the procedure for a drain and fill on a GM 4T40, for your information. 1. Raise front of vehicle on ramps. 2. Remove a couple of pan bolts. 3. Fluid will start to spill everywhere, over an area much bigger than your drain pan. 4. Fluid will stop. Time to remove a few more bolts. 5. More fluid will spill everywhere, including on your face. 6. Fluid will stop. Remove the last few bolts. 7. Pan will fall. Fluid will spill everywhere. 8. Clean pan. Alcohol and paper towels work well, and are fun to light on fire afterwards! 9. Drill a %#*! hole and install a %#*! drain plug in the back of the pan so you make less of a mess next time. 10. Install a new gasket, bolt pan back up to transmission. 11. Remove fill plug from top of transmission. 12. Drop fill plug behind transmission. 13. Reach back there to grab fill plug. Instead, manage to knock it into the abyss where it will likely never be found again. 14. @#%! it, I'll deal with that later. Beer. 15. Remove intake to make room for long funnel to fill the transmission. 16. Add a gallon of fluid. 17. Notice new trans filter still sitting on passenger seat. 18. Sigh. Beer. 19. Remove drain plug. See, that's already coming in helpful. Drain fresh fluid back into the jug I poured it from. 20. Drop pan. Spill residual fluid everywhere. 21. Remove filter. Spill more fluid everywhere. 22. Install new filter. 23. Re-install pan again. 24. Add gallon of fresh fluid back into transmission. 25. Jack up the rear of the car. Front is on ramps, and my service manual makes very clear that it must be level for the fluid level to be correct. 26. Turn the engine on. 27. Idle for 5 minutes. 28. Move the shifter through all the gears, while the car is on a combination of ramps and jack stands. Because that's safe! 29. Attempt to remove check plug from side of transmission. Did I mention it's right next to the exhaust, which is hot because the car must be running to do this. 30. Burn hand on exhaust. 31. Beer. 32. Successfully remove check plug. No fluid comes out. 33. Pour in another gallon. Fluid slowly starts to trickle out, flowing down various crevices and crannies and totally avoiding my drain pan again. 34. Re-install check plug. 35. Burn hand on exhaust. 36. Stuff a rag in the fill hole and I'll deal with that later. A new fill plug is $11 online, so I'll probably grab one from the junkyard for a buck or two later this week. Don't need the car until then. EDIT: Drained out what was most likely Super Tech Dex 3 from ~10 years and 60k miles ago. Fluid was dark, but still smelled sweet (oddly I like the smell of ATF...) not burnt, and there was virtually nothing on the pan. No pics of tranny porn (wow that came out wrong!) but I did get one of the drain plug. M12 nut, plug, and fiber washer from Ace, total cost $3 and change.
 
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My prius is a life time transmission fluid as well, and out of any car out there, it is probably the only that should be allowed to have a lifetime fluid. It doesn't have a true cvt. Cant really explain it, but there are no clutch packs or anything like that, just 1 gear and that is it. I change the tranny fluid on my prius though, SOOO much easier than your GM. I just need to take off underbody panel, remove fill plug, remove drain plug, put back in drain plug, fill with 4 quarts and put back on fill plug and underbody...done.
 
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CT8

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I don't seem to have any problems changing the manual or auto tranny oils.
 
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It says "sealed lifetime" meaning that it's not supposed to be unsealed over the lifetime of the transmission. That's why it's so difficult to unseal.
 

Anduril

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Originally Posted By: Alfred_B
It says "sealed lifetime" meaning that it's not supposed to be unsealed over the lifetime of the transmission warranty
FTFY
 
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Originally Posted By: TheKracken
My prius is a life time transmission fluid as well, and out of any car out there, it is probably the only that should be allowed to have a lifetime fluid. It doesn't have a true cvt. Cant really explain it, but there are no clutch packs or anything like that, just 1 gear and that is it.
Its not a transmission, its just a planetary differential gear set with the motor/generator, gas engine, and wheels+motor on different input/output shafts of the differential. The original post isn't a "lifetime fill" problem, its a "typical GM/Toyota (and to be fair, most brands) style lack of serviceability" problem. They were making stuff miserable to service LONG before dipsticks got eliminated. Like my friend's truck (which he always referred to as "The Toyota" because it was so agonizingly hard to work on yet insisted on lasting 200k miles). You had to pull the V6 intake manifold to clean or change the PCV valve. Or GM's putting the Northstar starter under the intake manifold. Or my parents' 80s Cadillac where you had to pull the PS pump pulley with a puller before you could get to the bolts to remove the PS pump (which meant pulling the radiator first...) Done properly, a "lifetime fill" automagic transmission is no different than manual transmissions always were. They didn't have dipsticks, they had a drain plug and a fill plug- just like modern dipstick-less automatics do. The only further complication with the automatic is dropping the pan to replace the filter, but automatics have been that way since the 50s. Including the fluid-bath when there's no drain-plug and you have to drop the pan.
 
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Well the Challenger I just bought has a totally sealed transmission, no dip stick, no nothing. Plus it takes some exotic ATF that is some insane $35+ dollars a qt that I never even heard of. I guess it does have a filter but it's actually part of the transmission pan and from what I heard a full service is a nice even Grand. I am probably going to just let it go forever. I read the Transmission behind the SRT is really rugged, same one as the Hellcat has and since the car is a daily driver for my wife who I think her top speed ever was 88. I am thinking that Transmission will have a nice easy, way under tortured life unless she accidentally finds the lunch controls.
 
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Nice write-up. Thats about sums up all of my repair attempts. My wife wants a new car and. Pretty sure the Mazda she wants has a sealed transmission so this is gonna be me next year.
 
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Originally Posted By: Lolvoguy
I came here for the tranny porn. Leaving disappointed frown
Don't try to Google "tranny porn;" you'll get some very different results! shocked2
 

Bud_One

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I lol'd at #17, 18 laugh - I've been there , with the transmission magnets on my bench vise.
 
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I own two vehicles with "lifetime" ATF in their automatics; A 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser, and a 2017 Ram with the 5.7 & 8-speed. When the FJ hit ~ 50K miles, I drained, and flushed the ATF, fully replacing the OEM fluid with Amsoil ATF. The OEM fluid was dark and had bad smell to it after only 50K miles. The process wasn't bad, and I'll do it again when the vehicle hits ~120K miles or so. Ram claims the 8-speed on the truck is lifetime. Folks on other forums who have contacted ZF, the transmission manufacturer, have said ZF recommends a fluid change @ 60K miles; not a full flush, just drain, drop the pan, replace with a new pan (the filter and pan are one unit), and add ~6 quarts of fluid. A process I plan on doing when the truck gets to that mileage point. Personally feel that "lifetime" ATF is [censored]. The transmissions and their fluid are high quality enough to get you past the end of normal warranty periods, after which you are on your own. Think statistically the # of customers who purchase lifetime warranties are in the minority, and given the $$ of those plans the OEM don't lose, if anything, should a transmission completely fail.
 
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For those w/o drain plugs, you get the trans pan loose all around, then get a big enough space on one side to fit in a hose connected to your $6 Harbor Freight hand pump. Pump out as much fluid as you can before removing all the bolts and lowering the pan.....will prevent a lot of #3 to #7. You could also put a box or something under the trans pan to only allow it to lower 1-2" until you can get it emptied.
 
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Originally Posted By: Panzerman
Well the Challenger I just bought has a totally sealed transmission, no dip stick, no nothing. Plus it takes some exotic ATF that is some insane $35+ dollars a qt that I never even heard of. I guess it does have a filter but it's actually part of the transmission pan and from what I heard a full service is a nice even Grand
The 8xxRE actually does have a nice drain plug and a nice fill plug. You don't even have to get a bath in fluid when you drop the pan because you can drain it first. This is the same transmission as in my wife's Grand Cherokee. The filter being built into the pan is very weird and very typically German (its a ZF transmission), and it drives up the cost of a fluid/filter. But I will *definitely* be doing this one myself. Its a lot more straightforward than the previous NAG1 transmission used in the Challenger/JGC where you had to stick a probe down the diptsick tube (which didn't contain a dipstick...) and then fill with fluid to a level you determined based on the temperature readout from a scan tool. Blech.
 

Anduril

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Originally Posted By: 69GTX
For those w/o drain plugs, you get the trans pan loose all around, then get a big enough space on one side to fit in a hose connected to your $6 Harbor Freight hand pump. Pump out as much fluid as you can before removing all the bolts and lowering the pan.....will prevent a lot of #3 to #7. You could also put a box or something under the trans pan to only allow it to lower 1-2" until you can get it emptied.
Or, as was suggested to me after the fact, get one of those cement mixing tubs from Home Depot. Only like $5 and makes and excellent wide-area drain pan.
 

CKN

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Based on my personal experience any transmission should go at least 50,000 miles before needing any service. This includes "severe service" such as stop and go driving and for trucks-towing frequently. So-how many times in the life of the vehicle will you need to change it out? Maybe 4. Of course-this forum is the home to "over maintenance".
 
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