Transmission Service - Changing Fluid - Drains and Fill vs flush

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Mar 17, 2011
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I need to do a transmission service on my 03 Suburban 1500. I plan to change filter and fluid.
Question is regarding fluid change.
Can this torque converter be drained and filled in place, or do I need to pump new fluid through it to change that fluid?

Would it be O.K. to just do a couple drains and fills after replacing filter?

Ideally, I would like to get as much new fluid in the system as possible on the initial fluid and filter change, but want to avoid a huge mess in my driveway.
Also, how do we feel about Max Life in this tranny?

Thoughts? Advice?
 
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Drain and remove trans pan, replace filter, install pan, fill w Maxlife atf, dex Vi or dex/merc, detach trans hose that is connected to the radiator and run it into a bucket or drain pan, turn on vehicle and let the trans fluid run into the bucket. Refill w more new atf. Keep doing this until the fluid running into the bucket is new red. Top off the fluid to full on dipstick while engine ruining and fluid hot. Done. There are multiple videos online showing this procedure. I’ve done this before.
 
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Drain and remove trans pan, replace filter, install pan, fill w Maxlife atf, dex Vi or dex/merc, detach trans hose that is connected to the radiator and run it into a bucket or drain pan, turn on vehicle and let the trans fluid run into the bucket. Refill w more new atf. Keep doing this until the fluid running into the bucket is new red. Top off the fluid to full on dipstick while engine ruining and fluid hot. Done. There are multiple videos online showing this procedure. I’ve done this before.
Did this with my Touareg.

IMG_20191029_223709.jpg
 
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Under the Hood
Not what you're asking but, I would also -
1) completely clean the transmission pan and magnet
2) add a couple (rare earth) magnets (careful where you place them)
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
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Service that transmission. You will make a mess. Either install a drain plug or perhaps you can extract the fluid with a MityVac going forward.
As others have said, YouTube is your friend. I would use MaxLife.
 
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Nov 7, 2010
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Wisconsin
Drain and remove trans pan, replace filter, install pan, fill w Maxlife atf, dex Vi or dex/merc, detach trans hose that is connected to the radiator and run it into a bucket or drain pan, turn on vehicle and let the trans fluid run into the bucket. Refill w more new atf. Keep doing this until the fluid running into the bucket is new red. Top off the fluid to full on dipstick while engine ruining and fluid hot. Done. There are multiple videos online showing this procedure. I’ve done this before.
I've done this on a 2004 GTO and a 2006 Jaguar. It can be a bit messy, but not too difficult.
 
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Do get back to us when you're done.

It felt so good when I saw the black fluid flow red for the first time.
The MaxLife Dex/Merc LV (the specific one I used a lot) just worked.

Get a packing blanket and lay it down first. You'll be glad you did.
 
Joined
Aug 13, 2004
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The converter cannot be drained.

Did they still give you a drain plug in '03? If so, a couple pan drains before changing the filter would be an option. Be really careful, because the plug head is easy to round off.

If you want to go the flush route, the lines at the radiator have spring clips and O-rings. It's probably a good idea to have spares on hand.

If there's a choice between "deep" and "shallow" pan for the filter, the deep pan has about a 1/2" step. The shallow pan is flat on the bottom (assuming this is a 4L60E).

Removing the filter seal--in the trans body--looked like something I could easily mess up. I left the original in place when I changed the filter on my '01 Silverado.

I think removing the pan is a little harder on 4WD than 2WD. Check into that if it applies.
 
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2003 was the last year for a drain plug on 4L60E's, Like said....It's easily rounded.

Use a Delco filter kit part# 24208576....Comes with a OE gasket.
 
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Just wanted to comment that I am a fan of Maxlife Fluid. I've used it in a lot of vehicles with great results - just be sure to verify on the Valvoline website that the fluid is compatible for your application - which it is for the 4L60's.
 
Joined
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I'd avoid flushing (typically means with cleaning agents) and do a fluid exchange (typically means removing old and introducing new) by what ever means you prefer.

I've done drains/refills but it's tedious. A drain plug makes it easier (I put one in the Safari pan for just this purpose = meh). The Magic 8 Ball dilution calculator says that it'll take ~4 exchanges to get 91% "clean" fluid, 7 exchanges will approach 99%.

Replace the filter, clean the pan and the magnet afterwards. Make sure standard vs. deep pan when you get a filter kit.

I don't care for one-size-fits-all ATF, but it seems not to hurt anything. Must be the old B&M Trick Shift (Type-F) in Hyrda-Matic stories I've heard in the olden times.
 
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Joined
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Another good fluid choice is Mobil Delvac 1 ATF or Castrol TranSynd (two TES-295 fluids). Been running that in two 4L60E. One in a 2005 Suburban that was probably rebuilt with about 15k on it, another one is a very high mileage unit in a 2005 Tahoe. Both like it. Also have used the OE ACDelco Dex VI with good results.
 
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Ames, IA
I did multiple drain and fills in our 2002 VW New Beetle when I was nursing it back to health. I did a pan drop and filter change, then drove it a week and did a fluid drop, then did it a third time. The fluid was mostly red at that time.

Since I rounded off the hex in the drain plug, and the pan was ugly with road rash, I put a new pan on, completing my 4th drop and fill. The fluid was a beautiful red after that.

My 2014 Town and Country is due for its bi-annual dump and fill. I usually do the filter as well since I need to drop the pan anyway. It just turned 100,000 miles.

I figure a regular schedule of dump and fills keeps the fluid fresh enough to not do a flush. My 2002 Voyager never had a transmission issue in 165k miles, and I changed the transmission fluid in this manner with it as well.
 
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FWIW I just did the Mityvac on the wife's 2014 Chrysler T&C. I sucked out about 4 quarts so I added 4 quarts. I let her drive it for a few days and repeated the process. As far as I can tell that should be good enough for a van with 80k miles on it. To be honest it is a "non serviceable" transmission anyway. I'm not a fan so I did the evac and fill process.

If you are looking for simple and the least amount of mess this was the ticket IMO.

just my $0.02
 
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FWIW I just did the Mityvac on the wife's 2014 Chrysler T&C. I sucked out about 4 quarts so I added 4 quarts. I let her drive it for a few days and repeated the process. As far as I can tell that should be good enough for a van with 80k miles on it. To be honest it is a "non serviceable" transmission anyway. I'm not a fan so I did the evac and fill process.

If you are looking for simple and the least amount of mess this was the ticket IMO.

just my $0.02
My '16 went at 105k. It's a delicate transmission; I'd keep on top of it and make sure the level is correct. It can be very tricky to get right.
 
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Drop the pan, change the filter and fill up with new fluid, Then pop the grill off and disconnect the return line from the transmission cooler to the transmission. Put a hose on the line coming out of the cooler into a bucket. Start up and let it drain into the bucket. You can mark the bucket first in qts if you want and let it pump 4qts then shut off and fill back up. Do this until the fluid comes out like the fluid you poured in.

Easiest way to do a fluid exchange.

I did mine and didn't mark the bucket but turned off the truck when the fluid started to spit air.
 
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I always do just a few drain and fills with some driving in between, and on the last drain and fill change the filter. It is hard to mess this up, and you eventually get most of the fluid. I use MaxLife in my BMW which has a GM 6L45 transmission and it shifts much better.
 
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