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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    West Coast USA
    Posts
    296

    Default transmission fluid - best practices

    What are the best practices for Transmission Fluid for our now old volvos.
    How often does one check if okay?
    How often (distance, years) does one change?
    Does checking do more harm than good?
    Does changing do more harm than good ("if it ain't broken, don't fix it")?
    My tranny fluid was last changed in year 2010 at 87K mileage. Now in 2019, I have 133K mileage.
    Thank you.
    09 Toyota Prius, Sprectra Blue
    01 Volvo V70XC, Ice Blue, 7-seater, built 4-01
    85 Ford Country Squire, Beige Woody, V8, ~79K mi [RIP]
    70 Chevy Malibu, Forest Green, V8 (ret)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Cumbria, UK. Maine USA.
    Posts
    494

    Default

    I dump the transmission sump at every oil change, it is right there and ATF is cheap versus a transmission job, both the 04 and the 02, the 04 has not had any trans issues, the 02 i rebuilt the VB and linear solenoids when i got it, the usual AW55N slamming and false neutrals, after that no issues, aftermarket trans coolers on both cars. the trans dump takes about one gallon the coolers add a little to the capacity.
    Last edited by AKAMick; 06-19-2019 at 07:44 PM.
    Current Junk: Couple of worthless rusty old clapped out Volvo bricks, XC70's 02, 04 & Countless P.O.S's, Rust buckets, Junk cars,( 50W Oily cesspool Sludge) Stolen and other assorted rubbish cars, 1928 Jed Clampett Tourer, (8 hole cast iron lump, original rust and decay, 40W Straight Bacon Grease),

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Pleasanton CA USA
    Posts
    413

    Default

    If you are not pulling a trailer, or doing mountain driving, the tranny fluid should perform well for 60-75K miles (100-130K km).

    If the tranny is subjected to heavy load, every 30K miles (50K km).

    When purchasing a used Volvo with sketchy service history, inspect the tranny fluid taken from the dipstick onto a paper towel. Dark brown color,
    and / or burnt smell are signs that a Gibbons-style fluid change is needed. You need about 12 quarts to do Gibbons. It also helps to go the the junkyard and
    obtain the return line fluid connector where it plugs into the radiator -- this connector becomes your waste line during Gibbons.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    8

    Default

    I obtained my 2006 two years ago with 172K miles on it. Took it to the dealer and they said "don't touch the transmission if you don't know the history, and Volvos have lifetime fluid anyway" (yeah, lifetime of the fluid which determines the lifetime of the transmission!). Well, I refused to use it with old dirty fluid and drained and filled (not the true "Gibbons" method, just drained it from the plug) three times, so that changed 3.5 qts x 3, then have done it twice again every 25K miles (now at 225K miles) and all works great. I messed up last time and underfilled it by half a quart, and had a banging torque converter and thought all was over but then realized I had not refilled it correctly and the missing half quart may be my problem. Half a quart added and it was much better but not 100% then a TCM reset (battery disconnect) fixed it. The fluid level really has to be exact, and for me at least, a gradual change in fluid has worked. I use Toyota Type IV, $6 a quart at the Toyota dealer here.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Virginia Beach
    Posts
    3,874

    Default

    All three of my Volvo’s have had the transmission fluid changed (cooler line exchange, AKA Gibbons flush). They ALL work better with fresh fluid. They all have an aftermarket cooler.

    I change the fluid every 30,000 miles. Perhaps that is too frequently. I don’t care. The procedure is easy. Transmissions are very expensive.

    I use good fluid. Toyota T-IV. Mobil 3309. Valvoline import multi vehicle synthetic. I’ve even tried AMSOIL. They have all worked well.

    My wife’s XC, a 2002 known for transmission troubles, has 245,000 miles on the original transmission. Over 130,000 miles since that valve body was rebuilt, but otherwise original parts. It operates flawlessly. It was flushed again at 240,000 miles.

    Regular fluid changes will prolong the life of your transmission.

    “Fill for life” is a deadly combination of marketing hype and design engineers that don’t want hack mechanics introducing dirt into the transmission (words from my BIL, a power train engineer for a major car company).
    Current Fleet:
    2016 Tundra Crewmax 4WD 1794
    2005 MB S600 (100K, Michelin AS3+, M1 0W40)
    2002 V70-XC (238K, Castrol Edge 0W40)
    2002 V70-T5 (195K, IPD bars, Bilsteins)
    2001 V70-T5 (76K)
    1932 Packard Sedan (straight 8, dual sidemounts, original paint and interior, Shell Rotella 15W40)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Cumbria, UK. Maine USA.
    Posts
    494

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Astro14 View Post

    “Fill for life” is a deadly combination of marketing hype and design engineers that don’t want hack mechanics introducing dirt into the transmission (words from my BIL, a power train engineer for a major car company).
    I have to agree with Astro that the factory recommendations sometimes have to be viewed with some caution. Volvo profits from selling cars and replacement parts, including transmissions.
    Current Junk: Couple of worthless rusty old clapped out Volvo bricks, XC70's 02, 04 & Countless P.O.S's, Rust buckets, Junk cars,( 50W Oily cesspool Sludge) Stolen and other assorted rubbish cars, 1928 Jed Clampett Tourer, (8 hole cast iron lump, original rust and decay, 40W Straight Bacon Grease),

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Pleasanton CA USA
    Posts
    413

    Default

    The software engineers who designed the Aisin/Volvo TCM put a counter inside it which counts the number of fluid overheating incidents. When the fluid is replaced, the counter is supposed to be reset to 0. One could conclude that the mere existence of this counter, available to VIDA, implies that the designers don't really believe in "fill for life". They gave Volvo techs a diagnostic to evaluate a degraded fluid, with fluid replacement understood to extend the life of the tranny.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Nebraska
    Posts
    1,442

    Default

    Check every oil change. Installing a transmission cooler will improve the life of your fluid, nothing else. Drop a spot onto a white towel / rag next to new fluid. Compare color with color chart, change when necessary (years/miles are a poor indicator). Checking does no harm. Changing also does no harm except to your bank balance.

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