PDA

View Full Version : transmission fluid change advise


chrispsprint
02-18-2013, 06:38 PM
hello helpful people!
I have an 04 2500 passenger sprinter and I am starting to get some of the classic shudder on the highway, usually going uphill. Occasional around town I also hear some RSN, but its not that bad and it just started recently. I bought this van last year at 126k miles and have put 25k on it. the ATF fluid was replaced, according to records, at 106k miles. I am not sure if they did a full flush or a service. I called a transmission shop here in Bakersfield, CA (where I am working for a few months and living out of my van) and they stated that they don't reccomend a TCC flush at all. And they said that when you are experiencing shudder than you really don't want to change the fluid at all because you will do more damage. I sort of understand that because I had a Honda with 300k miles and when I changed the fluid in it i lost 1st and 5th gears almost immediately, but Im thinking its a bit different with the Sprinter. This van is in great shape, previos owner was meticulous with service. Any advise would be great, thanks guys.

cahaak
02-18-2013, 07:02 PM
Change the fluid, drop the pan and clean it out and drain the torque converter also. Fill takes 8 qt and 4 oz with this service. With a ATF 134 type fluid in the refill you will likely notice a substantial improvement in the transmission. If you can DIY, it is not a very costly service. You need to bring it to a place that knows sprinters and that is not likely a general transmission shop.

Chris

MellowYellow
02-18-2013, 07:43 PM
When it comes to automatic transmissions and their fluids, if it has not been changed on a very regular basis, leave it alone. You will do more harm then good. From the sounds of it, you are already past that point. If your shudder is not to bad you could try putting in some additive (Lucas, STP ect) and that may help to ease your condition. These will not fix your problem, they will only buy you time.

The problem with changing the fluid if it's to old is that fresh ATF has very high detergent properties. So it really does a good job of cleaning up all the gunk and dirt that builds up over time. Unfortunately more often then not, it was some of that build up that was helping your worn seals actually seal. Once you clean out that dirt, the seal leaks. Everything will be good for a while but after about 10k your symptoms are back, worse then ever. You might make 20k before it quits.

Aqua Puttana
02-18-2013, 08:33 PM
My opinion and worth everything you'll never pay for it...

Listen to this guy.

Change the fluid, drop the pan and clean it out and drain the torque converter also. Fill takes 8 qt and 4 oz with this service. With a ATF 134 type fluid in the refill you will likely notice a substantial improvement in the transmission. If you can DIY, it is not a very costly service. You need to bring it to a place that knows sprinters and that is not likely a general transmission shop.

Chris

Mellow Yellow,
120,000 miles is not 300,000 miles with no service. He indicated that there was a transmission service. Perhaps a non-approved fluid was used which would help explain the shudder, but it was serviced. For a time Mercedes Benz recommended an 80,000 mile change and then you were good forever. That idea has since been changed.

Are you basing this advice upon Sprinter experience? It seems to me that the best course is to change the fluid.

Some of my experience is here.

http://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5027&highlight=shudder

FWIW. vic

When it comes to automatic transmissions and their fluids, if it has not been changed on a very regular basis, leave it alone. You will do more harm then good. From the sounds of it, you are already past that point. If your shudder is not to bad you could try putting in some additive (Lucas, STP ect) and that may help to ease your condition. These will not fix your problem, they will only buy you time.

The problem with changing the fluid if it's to old is that fresh ATF has very high detergent properties. So it really does a good job of cleaning up all the gunk and dirt that builds up over time. Unfortunately more often then not, it was some of that build up that was helping your worn seals actually seal. Once you clean out that dirt, the seal leaks. Everything will be good for a while but after about 10k your symptoms are back, worse then ever. You might make 20k before it quits.

MellowYellow
02-18-2013, 09:31 PM
[QUOTE=Aqua Puttana;227771


Are you basing this advice upon Sprinter experience? It seems to me that the best course is to change the fluid.



FWIW. vic[/QUOTE]

I base it both on Sprinter experience and 10 years as a licensed truck and coach technician. I spent a couple of years before and 4 years of my apprenticeship at a dealer that sold light and medium duty trucks. GM's Workhorse and Isuzu's were the dealer line but we worked on anything the customer was willing to pay for, trailers and heavy equipment included.

During that time I found that if a light duty truck came in for a trans service with more then 120,000kms (75,000mi) on the fluid that the customer would more often then not return with trans issues (Edit: With in the next 20-30k) . Usually shuddering on shifts or hopping back into first when coming to a stop. I've seen it dozens of times. Customers who changed it 80-120k would not experience these issues.

Our '08 3500 had 185k kms on it. My father drove that one. It was just starting to shudder on shifts. When in for service he decides having the trans serviced would be a good idea. MB dealer, used the correct fluid. 20,000kms later trans bucks like a bronco. Yes the fluid should have been changed long before that, but it wasent. Would have been better leaving it alone. Had he left it alone im sure would have made it another 50k if not more before rebuild.

Personally I consider 106,000 miles with no service a very long time. What the OP is describing fits right into what I have experienced. He can change the fluid but I don't think it will do any good. At best it will be unchanged. At worst, he will lose a gear or two and require an overhaul. If it were my van i'd run it like it is. But then again I can't drive it to feel the severity.

Aqua Puttana
02-18-2013, 09:43 PM
...
Personally I consider 106,000 miles with no service a very long time. What the OP is describing fits right into what I have experienced. He can change the fluid but I don't think it will do any good. At best it will be unchanged. At worst, he will lose a gear or two and require an overhaul. If it were my van i'd run it like it is. But then again I can't drive it to feel the severity.

I'm certain that you disagree with some (many?) of my opinions also.

Thanks for the reply. vic

chrispsprint
02-18-2013, 10:00 PM
im going to check the records again and call the dealership where the previous owner went. I can't imagine that the first time was at 106k but that is the only record that i found.

skydiver007
02-18-2013, 10:10 PM
I base it both on Sprinter experience and 10 years as a licensed truck and coach technician. I spent a couple of years before and 4 years of my apprenticeship at a dealer that sold light and medium duty trucks. GM's Workhorse and Isuzu's were the dealer line but we worked on anything the customer was willing to pay for, trailers and heavy equipment included.

During that time I found that if a light duty truck came in for a trans service with more then 120,000kms (75,000mi) on the fluid that the customer would more often then not return with trans issues (Edit: With in the next 20-30k) . Usually shuddering on shifts or hopping back into first when coming to a stop. I've seen it dozens of times. Customers who changed it 80-120k would not experience these issues.

Our '08 3500 had 185k kms on it. My father drove that one. It was just starting to shudder on shifts. When in for service he decides having the trans serviced would be a good idea. MB dealer, used the correct fluid. 20,000kms later trans bucks like a bronco. Yes the fluid should have been changed long before that, but it wasent. Would have been better leaving it alone. Had he left it alone im sure would have made it another 50k if not more before rebuild.

Personally I consider 106,000 miles with no service a very long time. What the OP is describing fits right into what I have experienced. He can change the fluid but I don't think it will do any good. At best it will be unchanged. At worst, he will lose a gear or two and require an overhaul. If it were my van i'd run it like it is. But then again I can't drive it to feel the severity.

Sorry, but Sprinters are know to have shudder if they have ever had the wrong fluid. They also shudder when the fluid is worn out. I bought one used and it shuddered really bad, ask the previous owner where he got serviced and he said always at Jiffy Lube. JIFFY LUBE DOES NOT HAVE THE RIGHT FLUID and anyone on here that would take their Sprinter there is asking for trouble. When I changed mine, it straightened out and I have had no further issues. It now gets changed every 60k with a new filter and a screen check for any debris.

Many people here have had various problems with their trannys until they put in the proper fluid. Then they have had no further problems.

cahaak
02-19-2013, 02:34 AM
I purchased my van used with 113K on it. Had some shudder, but the worst part was that it had a horrible howl - very strong resonance at about 70 mph (gear did not matter - stronger under load). Service records inconclusive regarding whether it had been changed. I changed it (full change), and the howl more or less disappeared. Changed again about 50K miles later and it runs like a champ now. I used Shell ATF 134 which you used to be able to get from Ryder fleet cheap - you can still get it reasonable from a shell distributor. This is a theme that a number of others have experienced. Highly recommend the full change with a new filter and dropping the pan. When I dropped mine for the 113K change, the circular magnet looked like a mini-donut it had that much stuff on it. Greatly reduced on the second change.

Chris

chrispsprint
02-19-2013, 02:35 PM
ok, sounds good guys I will flush everything. i wish i were home so i could feel confident about doing this myself. Im still going to try it myself since shops charge a small fortune. MB in Bakersfield wanted 640 bucks just for the 4 litre service! Are you freaking kidding. So I will find an abandoned parking lot somewhere around here and do it stealth like, since this kind of thing is frowned upon in California. I wont feel bad either considering within a 30 mile radius there are about 25000 oil wells slogging away, polluting the air. I'll order everything from europarts san diego with the Fuch's fluid 236.14. seems like the cheapest solution. Thanks again.

skill3
02-19-2013, 02:46 PM
You'll save some money by using SHELL ATF 134. SHELL ATF 134 is about $5 quart. Find a local SHELL distributor. Good Luck!

skydiver007
02-20-2013, 01:46 AM
Remember, the only way you can do it properly is to also drain the torque converter to get out the most oil you can. It is not hard. At the front of the tranny, there are 2 square plastic plugs, remove them and find a large socket and I use a serpentine belt wrench which is basically a steel bar with a socket end on it, then turn the engine until the drain plug shows up in the hole where you removed the plastic plug. Be careful when you remove the plug and dont loose the washer.

New filter is mandatory, you can reuse the pan gasket if it looks in good shape. Yes, you have to drop the pan and clean the magnet in the pan. Not worth the effort unless you drop the pan.

Based on how much you get out, 8 quarts should be a good start, Put 7 1/2 in and then start her up and run through the gears, then measure the level, add as necessary.

Uncle Dave
02-20-2013, 03:04 AM
I dont go through torque converter flushing anymore on any of my automatics I just do a drain and fill once a year or every 20K miles.

Even after 100% towing duty from 5-9K pounds a half ton truck and a 5 speed automatic this method leaves me with trans fluid that looks like it came out of a bottle and NO trans leaks.

Here is an approximation of what a simple cheap drain and fill removes.

http://www.tundrasolutions.com/forums/1gen-tundra/214559-transmission-drain-and-fill-versus-flush/

Easy, quick, cheap & effective.

I know this isnt sprinter specific, but I use this method on all my vehicles.


Uncle Dave

shortshort
02-20-2013, 04:39 AM
Changed my trans fluid at about 100k miles. At 165k it still works like the day I bought it. Slight RSN at 1800 or so, otherwise smooth as silk. With the sprinter there is a special dipstick to measure level based on temperature. The primary cause of issues after a fluid change, I have read, is incompatible fluids and too much or too little fluid added after the drain. There may be something to the "don't change it if it's been in there too long" advice, I've heard it often enough, but it certainly smells like an old wives tale to me. I suspect the reason that kind of myth gets traction is the vast majority of people change their fluid at 300k because the trans was acting up, and it's just coincidence the trans (with 300k on the factory fill and a nasty shudder) died right after the change. Do the math.

chrispsprint
02-20-2013, 03:34 PM
ok, after considering all the factors here. The main factors are the fact that I am living in the van now and don't want to pay 700 bucks for a complete flush. i am going to just drain and drop the pan, clean the magnet and add the 4 litres or so (after starting and measuring). Then when Im home in a couple of months i'll reevaluate. the last ATF service was done by MB and the receipt says "Mobil 13", im not sure i know what they meant. but Im thinking I should just match that, right? and any idea where i can find the dipstick? europarts has one for 60.00

talkinghorse43
02-20-2013, 03:50 PM
ok, after considering all the factors here. The main factors are the fact that I am living in the van now and don't want to pay 700 bucks for a complete flush. i am going to just drain and drop the pan, clean the magnet and add the 4 litres or so (after starting and measuring). Then when Im home in a couple of months i'll reevaluate. the last ATF service was done by MB and the receipt says "Mobil 13". so Im thinking I should just match that, right? and any idea where i can find the dipstick? europarts has one for 60.00

Shudder has been shown to respond well to a complete drain (drain pan, remove pan and clean, change filter, drain torque converter, refill with MB spec 236.14 approved fluid). I haven't seen that it has been fixed by any less. Of course it's your van and you have the final say, but I'd do no less. Long term shudder has not been definitively shown to cause other problems, but harmonic balancer or flexplate failures might be connected. BTW, flush usually means pumping (with a purpose-built machine) some fluid or cleaning solution through the tranny to clean it out. Drain and refill (as defined above) is sufficient.

Aqua Puttana
02-20-2013, 04:42 PM
Shudder has been shown to respond well to a complete drain (drain pan, remove pan and clean, change filter, drain torque converter, refill with MB spec 236.14 approved fluid). I haven't seen that it has been fixed by any less. Of course it's your van and you have the final say, but I'd do no less. Long term shudder has not been definitively shown to cause other problems, but harmonic balancer or flexplate failures might be connected. BTW, flush usually means pumping (with a purpose-built machine) some fluid or cleaning solution through the tranny to clean it out. Drain and refill (as defined above) is sufficient.
I agree FWIW. I tried just a pan drain and refill to help address shudder. I drained a bit less than 4 quarts and replaced that amount. When I drained the TC and pan on my next go the transmission operation returned to what I consider normal.

In the interest of full disclosure I did use a ATF III synthetic on the pan only drain which did not have official MB 236.14 approval. I don't think that was as significant a factor as not draining the TC and replacing the 8 quarts was.

If you KNOW FOR CERTAIN that the filter was changed recently then I would consider just draining the TC/pan and replacing with MB 236.14 fluid. It will save some money and time. I wouldn't consider a power flush in your situation. Good luck. vic

surlyoldbill
02-20-2013, 05:20 PM
I see entire tranny fluid change kits on ebay with correct oil starting at $130, and dipsticks starting at $20. Important to note that a correct dipstick will have "ears", and is not just a piece of flexible line.
I had a shop fluid change as suggested in the manual, and will probably do it myself when I get closer to 200k this summer. Using correct fluids and frequent changes is cheap insurance to keep the most expensive repairs away.

shortshort
02-22-2013, 12:10 AM
There is a post here somewhere showing how to make the dipstick. It should be easy since the measurement is taken by bottoming the graduated end of the sick in the pan, not bottoming the top of the stick in the fill tube as with the oil. There is also a trick to getting the trans temp with just a multimeter, but I don't have that and to my knowledge it's closely held.

skydiver007
02-22-2013, 01:06 AM
Ditto on the above advice, If your van has the wrong or old fluid and you dont drain the torque converter, you are mixing new proper fluid with old and potentially bad fluid. Do it right or dont do it.

You can easily do it in a parking lot with the proper tools. All you need is the fluid, a new filter and a torx socket.

I use a screw on tube on the fluid to put it in faster. I can put in 8 quarts in about 10 minutes, If you get a funnel, it will take an hour. Get a screw on tube at the parts store, it screws right onto the fluid bottle. Mine has an on off by spinning the tube.

talkinghorse43
02-22-2013, 03:48 AM
There is a post here somewhere showing how to make the dipstick. It should be easy since the measurement is taken by bottoming the graduated end of the sick in the pan, not bottoming the top of the stick in the fill tube as with the oil. There is also a trick to getting the trans temp with just a multimeter, but I don't have that and to my knowledge it's closely held.

The stick you can buy doesn't bottom out in the pan, a shoulder on the plastic tip catches on a ring in the valve body so the tip is actually "hanging" into the fluid. I recently reposted the good Doktor's instructions on how to measure T1N tranny temp with a DVM - NCV3's use a different color wire for that signal - look for details on both using the search tool in the blue bar above.

chrispsprint
04-10-2013, 04:10 PM
ok, so i finally got to work on the ATF change. I have been On Call at the hospital for the last 2 months straight so I couldnt chance starting the job. Two days ago I started and couldn't get ratchet to turn the engine with consistency. my breaker bar with swivel head was just too long. I tried for two hours until I gave up. turning it a bit, then starting the engine to randomly turn the TCC to a new starting place. I went to Lowes yesterday to buy, what turned out to be the wrong size swivel head so I was stuck where Iwas the day before. I opted to just drain the pan and add what I removed. I ordered a dipstick about 6 weeks ago and I still havent recieved it. I changed the connector switch as well. The fluid that came out was black. not much metallic debri at all. this morning the van ran much better than before, although I just drove it 20 miles. But the hill that I climb every morning was much much smoother. no shudder. when i get home in 6 weeks I think I will drain everything again.

chrispsprint
06-25-2013, 09:35 PM
update. I drained the TCC and pan. I wanted to drop the valve body, but decided against it due to the fact that I was working on dirty ground and didn't want to contaminate anything. The drone noise is gone. I just drove across country drone free!
Although a very low speeds on inclines its still there. Unless thats more RSN?

chrispsprint
01-14-2014, 05:46 PM
Update. The drone seems to be coming back. its around 70mph again and usually goes away after about 30 min of highway driving. I still need to clean the valve body so maybe I will change fluid again and clean the body. that may be this spring. i am getting ready to tear the van apart on the inside and start my conversion.

cahaak
01-16-2014, 03:44 PM
Agree with your assessment, fluid change with valve body cleaning and drone should be gone. After two fluid changes, my drone is pretty much gone, but it have been almost 50K miles now and I will change again at 60K.

Chris