Took a look at the trans fluid in my 2011 FX4

We're talking about a 70k mile truck that hasn't hauled anything but my butt and a box of air. I drive it instead of a car because I live in Houston and the freeways are outrageous. Ford claims that the six speed trans in my truck has fluid that will last to 100k and beyond. Okaaaay... So let's take a look. The dip stick which is located on the passenger side of the trans looks like this when pulled out. You pull that crazy dipstick out and then use it to measure the trans fluid level. A few pictures of the dipstick and fluid The old fluid on a paper towel I pulled 3 quarts out of the transmission and carefully measured it to make sure I put exactly the same amount in. Picture of old fluid in measuring cup. I used my Griots Garage top side oil sucker to pull the fluid out of the trannie. I used the brake fluid attachment with a small plastic tube stuck in it to reach the bottom of the pan Picture of the brake bleeding head and plastic tube in the trans and a sucking away.. I never finished pulling all the fluid out of the trans pan; strange animal Fords trannie; after pulling 3 quarts out of the thing the fluid level was right where it was when I first pulled the dipstick. At any rate, I only had 3 quarts of fluid so that's where I stopped the sucking operation. Time to load up the Motive power filler, which is really just a fancy bug sprayer with a pressure gauge. Motive device all filled up and pressurized and ready to go... The Motive power filler had neat curved tube which was ideal for filling the trans... Because the fluid level was level with the hole where the dipstick went in I had to start the engine a begin filling while it sucked the fluid level down.. Half way there.. After putting all the fluid in I closed her up and took her out for a drive. While I pulled the fluid out of a cold trannie, the level has to be validated with the trans fully warmed up. The trans shops make a big deal out of this, but my truck has a trans temp key you can select and I simply drove the truck until it was at normal temperature (195F). When I got home I pulled the dipstick/cap assembly out and checked the level while running in park. I got lucky because the level was spot on according to the dipstick. A few notes; as you can see the old 70k mile trans fluid held up really well, heck it smelled just like the new stuff I was putting in! It was barely discolored and seemed to up to the test of running to 100k. I use my trans temp setting quite a bit and I have seen trans temps all the way up to 203 and this fluid never flinched at the heat. Ford's Mercon LV is pretty stud duck in my book. I plan to change the filter at 80k (when it cools off here in Houston and from there on swap out 3 quarts of trans fluid every oil change (which is 4k miles). I hope the pictures all make because I'm new at this posting pictures and have been known to screw up a time or two... Cheers all!
 
Messages
13,365
Location
ROCHESTER, NY
Yeah, changing the ATF every 4K miles is a bit excessive but, maybe one more time with the new filter and call it a day. Then, maybe you'll want to go 30K miles between ATF changes. smile Your pictures are very good and the steps you took are working nicely. It's more time consuming taking the pics than changing out the ATF, isn't it? smile Well Done! CB
 
Messages
24,149
Location
CA
Thanks for the mini-DIY, but the fluid color really does not indicate anything. The fluid color will darken with age and mileage, depending on the type of materials used in the clutch packs. There's no information to suggest (either way) that a fluid change was needed.
 
Messages
2,393
Location
Paradise of Florida
UOA it with a particle count and you well verify it needing a change. Partial change requires more intervals when compared to a cooler line flush. Either flush or drain/refill works just fine. Temp over 175f is good enough for level check. ~12 quart capacity so incremental exchange will need plenty of intervals. And, plenty of aftermarket full synth LV options.
 
Thanks for the comments guys! I started this adventure because of BMW's (very sobering) experience with lifetime fluids. And we all know what that was like: the life of the transmission was relatively short compared to trannies that were properly maintained! I also put this up in case there were Ford F150 owners that were thinking like me: I have no idea what the heck is going on just below my feet; am I ruining my trans without knowing it? Hopefully this puts that to rest. I always read the owners manual that comes with the car, and when I read that normal trans service was 100k+ miles my mind naturally went to BMW's auto trans intervals. As noted here I need'nt have worried! I reckon I'll get a particle count when I pull the pan and change the filter - if there's a ton of sludge on the magnet that'll mean my particle count is quite high. As far as fluid costs are concerned, I got lucky; my local Ford dealer sells Mercon LV for $6.23 a quart. My plan is to do these 4k mile changes to freshen things up a bit until I can get to the trans filter change job - 'round here spare time doesn't grow on trees! After that probably go with a more BITOG approved 10-15k partial swaps to get as much life out of the trans as possible. One other thing that drove me to this was my truck has the Ecoboost engine and the trans deals with low speed torque for a living. The naturally aspirated engines need RPM to hit their torque curve, the EB engines hit relatively high torque figures from about 1800 RPMs on. Maybe I should'nt worry about the transmission at all; the torque converter may blow away before anything else! And Char Baby: 17 months until I get to retire......
 
Messages
3,298
Location
West Michigan
Any idea whats different about MERCON LV to allow it to hold up so well? Closing in on 60k on my own F150 and really want to get a full fluid change, but between the cost and the spec'd service interval I'm holding out.
 
Castrol makes a full synthetic trans fluid that carries manufacturers approvals for both Mercon LV and Dexron VI. It costs roughly the same as Ford branded LV but a quick look at the PDS of both shows the Ford product having around a 100 degree higher flash point (400+ degrees vs middle 300s for the Castrol product). To me this indicates a higher quality base oil. And probably a better add pack as well.
 
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