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Old 09-05-2012, 21:45   #1 (permalink)
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Need advice on trans cooler lines & adding drain plug

Hi all, we have a 2001 Taurus LX (3.0 OHV) with the AXOD/E or AX4S transmission. My daughter drives the car & recently told me the trans-axle light on the dash would blink, but did so only after driving 10 to 15 minutes. She said the car runs & shifts great, it's just the light came on after about 15 mins of driving. After posting the symptoms on this board, I was advised that the tranny fluid would be the 1st place to check. I checked and the fluid was too dark, so today we changed the filter and and added back about 6 1/2 quarts of MERCON V. The job was not that hard but sure was messy. I intended to flush out the entire system, and I know there are some ways posted online as to how to do that (by cutting into one of the trans cooler lines & connecting a hose from there to a large enough container. Then start the car and pour in new fluid and watch as the old gets flushed out. Then turn the car off when new fluid starts coming out of the hose into the container). Unfortunately I could not locate the hoses that go to the trans cooler. It was getting dark and my eyes are not so good any more so it is possible that I missed the cooler lines. Can anyone tell me if this model Taurus even had a transmission cooler? And if so, which line or hose would I cut into do the flush-out procedure? Has anyone done this and have any suggestions? Possibly some pictures? What about adding an external transmission fluid filter--any thoughts? ALSO, since I intend on changing the fluid more regularly, can anyone help with the best place to install a transmission pan drain plug? At the very least I want to put in a drain plug so it is easier in the future to change the fluid. Thanks in advance for all the help!
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Old 09-06-2012, 02:44   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Need advice on trans cooler lines & adding drain plug

Never heard of anyone doind it that way, but I guess it could work. You do stand the risk of having the drain out run the fil and burning the pressure plates, though.

As far as location for a drain, the thread part that is attached to the pan may stick up about a half in or so, so you'll need to locate a spot where it won't interfere with the filter and still be centered on a flat spot on the bottom of the pan. I tend not to trust them as it's just another joint to leak.
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Old 09-12-2012, 21:21   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Need advice on trans cooler lines & adding drain plug

There are aftermarket pans out there with drain plugs, but for the sake of things, it's best to change the filter at each service for better piece of mind. As mentioned above, the pans are flat bottomed so to add a drain plug you'll be best to install it on the rear of the pan and tilt the front end of the vehicle up (say on ramps) to get as much fluid out as possible. The pan is aluminum which can make for some very careful drilling/threading for a drain plug.

Also, transmission fluid flushes is a mixed bag. I'll explain:

Flushing a transmission with less than 100K miles is doable, but be cautious. If the transmission wasn't serviced at 60K, you'll stand a greater chance at doing more harm than good with doing a flush. A flush is a HIGH PRESSURE fluid exchange. Any lodged dirt in or around the transmission can potentially get lodged inside the throttle body causing erratic shifting, among other things. In some extreme cases, a rebuild may even be required after very little miles after doing a flush. The higher the miles and the lack of services increase the risk. Dark/black trans fluid means the transmission is nearly shot.

The best thing you can do is keep servicing the transmission every 5-8K miles.

A standard transmission service removes (for example) 50% of the total fluid capacity.

First service is 60K miles. After 60K, a service is required every 30-40K because half the old fluid remains and you can no longer drive as long. A flush can allow near full fluid exchange allowing another 60K between services. Again, as the miles pile on this can be hazardous unless you are meticulous in previous maintenance.

Even with the car engine cold, you can still pull the engine/trans code as it is stored for up to 50 restarts. This will better narrow down the problem and with any luck it will just be a solenoid that has turned faulty.

If the transmission still shifts fine, then it may yet still be free from any internal damage from bad/old fluid. DO NOT run the vehicle while adding transmission fluid. Very rarely are there transmission coolers (I believe the SHO has one) from the factory. In most cases, the lines aren't connected to the pan, which forcing fluid into them in reverse by mistake even, can cause dirt to become dislodged and potentially block cooling passages.

I'm not against fluid flushes as it's the only true way to get rid of all the fluid, you just have to be mindful on previous service and know for certain that it won't cause any short, or long term damage. In your case, I'd advise against a flush but it's your car.

Be lucky you don't drive a Lexus, as they advertise "Lifetime transmission fluid". 150K later, you'll be forking over $4-5K for a new transmission after the warranty no longer applies. This is a manufacturers way to make money to the "stupid people with money" crowd. In all instances, it's best to regularly check and service the transmission, brakes, power steering and of course engine oil. As miles pile on you can go from consuming no oil one week, to being stranded on the road two Mondays later because your spouse gently went over a curb and managed to slightly bend the oil pan which started a slow oil leak. It pays to check.
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