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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
New owner of a 2009 SE Grand Caravan with 70000 miles. It's primary use will be for Uber, so it should follow the severe maintenance schedule. Starting with ATF service. I chose my favorite local shop since I don't have enough time or experience with this kind of project at home.

They did the work (pan drop, filter replacement, add back the missing ATF fluid) yesterday, and the work order shows they put in five quarts of Valvoline MAXLIFE ATF. I drove it the two miles back home and later had a tiny bothersome thought; "Was that the correct fluid?"

After some research online, the answer was maybe.

I drove into the shop this morning (in my daily driver), showed him the compatibility chart from Valvoline and how it recommends ATF +4 for any Chrysler newer than 1999, then calmly asked him to convince me I was wrong. :biggrin:

http://www.carquestprofessionals.co...F Application NON-Laminated Guide 6.10.13.pdf

The tech pointed out that their lubricant supplier told them that MAXLIFE is fine for any Chrysler out of warranty. I again thought maybe.

He's already agreed to flush the system and replace it with AT +4 for no charge.

I want to be at least mostly certain about the information I'm finding. I'm not an expert, but I can see in the image I attached that the values are different. But only by a little. How much does the difference matter? I couldn't find the properties for Mopar's ATF +4. :jpshakehe
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Any thoughts on driving it the two miles back to the shop with five quarts of poison :biggrin: in there?

Also, I'm reluctant to flush. Another simple fluid exchange will leave some of the MAXLIFE in there. If my math is right, about 25%. It's now ~50-50 ATF +4 and MAXLIFE. Another drain and refill would move it toward 25%.
 

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Any thoughts on driving it the two miles back to the shop with five quarts of poison :biggrin: in there?

Also, I'm reluctant to flush. Another simple fluid exchange will leave some of the MAXLIFE in there. If my math is right, about 25%. It's now ~50-50 ATF +4 and MAXLIFE. Another drain and refill would move it toward 25%.
You should flush with ATF+4.

You can drive it to the shop.
 

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I agree with replacing all the fluid with ATF4. A cooler line fluid exchange should not be a problem to any competent shop. If not, let them do 3 to 4 pan drops and refills. This extra labor should hopefully teach them a lesson.

As to the difference between the fluids, it's not as small as some may think, especially for the hot viscosity. The ATF4 is about 20% thicker than Maxlife ATF (base don the picture linked). You do not want a thinner than specified ATF in there. A little bit thicker is usually fine and might only affect shift quality when cold, but going thinner is like skating on thin ice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'm agreeing to an actual flush, but at a lower "power" than normal using the cooler line method. The owner is confident that with lower miles, a flush is safe. But in the future I'm going to ensure they use ATF +4 for the drain, filter replace, and refill job.

Thanks for helping to set my mind at ease. I found a few threads with MAXLIFE information, but nothing that matched what I am going through. Worst part is I have to switch back to my daily driver if I want to drive Uber this weekend. I bought the GC so I didn't have to drive my car! :)
 

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From the Center of Quality Assurance at http://www.centerforqa.com/chrysler-faq/ for FCA ATF+4
Frequently Asked Questions:
My mechanic didn’t use ATF+4® when changing my transmission fluid. What should I do?

To ensure you have removed most or all of the existing ATF, it is recommended that you perform a total of three (3) changes using ATF+4®. It is further recommended that you do not mix ATF+4® with another automatic transmission fluid (ATF).
Keep in mind the following:
- using ATF+4 is a "no brainer". Any other ATF is a gamble for overall performance, low temperature performance and longevity. One qualification, for example:
AMSOIL warrants the use of this product for Chrysler ATF+4® applications above -38°F. Product does not meet the cold temperature requirement of ATF+4® at -40°F.
Likely there are unmentioned other differences across various brands. -40F = -40C and wouldn't be a concern for most. Good marketing Amsoil.

- transmission fluid can normally be pumped out the dipstick tube/filler hole without removing the pan.

- transmission pans can be purchased with a drain plug in place or a drain plug can be added to an existing pan (kit available). This greatly facilitates fluid replacement on a regular basis for severe use.

- Chrysler tends to be against the "flush this, flush that" mentality use by service centers.
Chrysler Group vehicle fluid systems do NOT require regular flushing. These systems include: engine oil, transmission oil, axle lube, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and refrigerant. The only exceptions to this requirement are published in the vehicle maintenance schedules, e.g. engine coolant.
Exceptions to this recommendation include only those instances where a malfunction has occurred and/or the system has become compromised, contaminated or overheated beyond the normal operating range.
Chrysler Group does NOT recommend aftermarket chemicals to flush the engine, transmission, brake or steering systems. Chemicals contained in these products can damage the system elastomeric components, and contaminate the component fluid, leading to loss of system/component durability and service life. When necessary, only the original approved system fluid should be used to flush these components using teamPSE® approved equipment.
Further discussion here: http://forum.chryslerminivan.net/sh...Service-When-to-do-it....?p=846570#post846570
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I can probably still negotiate with the shop owner to get the satisfaction I need. The shop has pneumatic fluid extractors they use for certain jobs. Before this debacle, he even offered to let me take one home whenever (in 30,000 miles for the next fluid change) I needed it.

So no flush, but drain and refill three times?

Exceptions to this recommendation include only those instances where a malfunction has occurred and/or the system has become compromised, contaminated or overheated beyond the normal operating range.
I think this situation qualifies as "compromised".

Would the vehicle need to be started and run through each gear after each drain and refill? I'm trying to get all the information I can before bringing it to the shop.

Should the filter be replaced on the third drain and refill? It was just replaced when they added the MAXLIFE.
 

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After speaking with some high level transmission repair guys they gave me the honest opinion about flushing and transmission that has dirty fluid
Draining what's in the pan and replacing some or a few quarts doesn't seem to be that risky
However if the fluid was darker than usual and dirty there is a buildup of dirt that when flushed clogs up crucial passageways that were previously unclogged leading to trans failure quicker than if you just leave it alone
I'm not a transmission guy but the tone in this guys voice had a ring of truth
As if he'd seen it a hundred times.
I'd leave it alone as it sits
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
After speaking with some high level transmission repair guys they gave me the honest opinion about flushing and transmission that has dirty fluid
Draining what's in the pan and replacing some or a few quarts doesn't seem to be that risky
However if the fluid was darker than usual and dirty there is a buildup of dirt that when flushed clogs up crucial passageways that were previously unclogged leading to trans failure quicker than if you just leave it alone
I'm not a transmission guy but the tone in this guys voice had a ring of truth
As if he'd seen it a hundred times.
I'd leave it alone as it sits
I appreciate the input, but I'm not sure it's relevant to this situation. Maybe I'm missing something obvious, though!
 

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It hasn't been flushed yet according to your description
Only the pan has been dropped
That means that a few quarts was still in the torque converter
When they actually do flush one it forces all the debris in to areas that debris was not present originally
Hopes this makes sense
It's early
 

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I can probably still negotiate with the shop owner to get the satisfaction I need. The shop has pneumatic fluid extractors they use for certain jobs. Before this debacle, he even offered to let me take one home whenever (in 30,000 miles for the next fluid change) I needed it.

So no flush, but drain and refill three times? That's what Chrysler says but there is another way.



I think this situation qualifies as "compromised".

Would the vehicle need to be started and run through each gear after each drain and refill? I'm trying to get all the information I can before bringing it to the shop.

Should the filter be replaced on the third drain and refill? It was just replaced when they added the MAXLIFE.
The vehicle should be operated for a time between each drain in order to ensure the new and old fluids are thoroughly mixed.

The filter shouldn't need to be changed very often, the conditions are far different from engine oil that gets contaminants from the combustion process. I wouldn't change the filter for this fluid exchange process. This fluid exchange process isn't uncommon, Honda specifies it or some of their vehicles per http://www.ebay.com/gds/How-Often-T...-in-a-Honda-Odyssey-/10000000178716956/g.html
Honda considers a fluid change to consist of draining and refilling the fluid four times. Given that about one third of the fluid drains with each drain and refill cycle, this process results in about 93 percent of the transmission fluid being replaced with new fluid.
If your Shop uses a fluid exchange process via the transmission cooler lines and your own transmission pump doing the pumping, without adding any chemicals, other than ATF+4, then you should be fine with one total fluid exchange. That's the other way.
 

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I've used Maxlife ATF on Honda's and Toyota's, but I would never use it on a Caravan only ATF+4.

Yes I would do the drain and fills ASAP to get out the Maxlife. I don't understand how these shops operate!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I've used Maxlife ATF on Honda's and Toyota's, but I would never use it on a Caravan only ATF+4.

Yes I would do the drain and fills ASAP to get out the Maxlife. I don't understand how these shops operate!
I think this one trusted their supplier. Which makes sense. the shop is supposed to be an expert at the work; the lubricant supplier is supposed to be an expert in that one thing.
 

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I think this one trusted their supplier. Which makes sense. the shop is supposed to be an expert at the work; the lubricant supplier is supposed to be an expert in that one thing.
It saves the Shops from stocking the various vehicle manufacturer specified ATFs. They know better but take the convenient route. It's not about you, the Customer, or the longevity of your transmission.

Valvoline actually makes an ATF+4 and I don't believe their literature says Maxlife ATF is suitable as an ATF+4 substitute.

Valvoline's ATF+4: http://www.valvoline.com/our-products/automatic-transmission-products/atf-4
Valvoline ATF+4™ is a high-quality synthetic transmission fluid specifically engineered to protect and prolong the life of Chrysler automatic transmissions.
Do you know how the Shop's Technicians are paid? by the hour? by the job? by the job including materials?

Interesting note from: http://content.valvoline.com/pdf/maxlife_atf.pdf
*Please note that legislation in California prohibits Valvoline from recommending MaxLife™ ATF in certain applications where the viscometrics of MaxLife™ ATF do not match those of the official OEM specification. Valvoline therefore does not recommend the use of MaxLife™ ATF in these applications in California.
 

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I think this one trusted their supplier. Which makes sense. the shop is supposed to be an expert at the work; the lubricant supplier is supposed to be an expert in that one thing.
I was on vacation 2 years ago, 1500km from home and needed to top up the transmission fluid. I found a "specialty" transmission shop (franchise) and asked if they had ATF+4 or ATF+3 at least. They all looked at me and my old Caravan and snickered at each other like I was a know-it-nothing, and offered me Dexron and Mercon. I insisted that I wanted only ATF+....they finally found a dusty old container of ATF+3 in the back somewhere. They were all laughing and giggling to each other while I topped it off. I wonder how many Chryslers in that small town have the wrong fluid? Just goes to show.........
 

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Whenever I have to take any of my vehicles to a Quick Lube shop, I always request lubricants from individual containers and not from their "bulk" storage containers.

For one, you don't even know what they have in there.

Second, delivery truck may deliver the wrong product.

Third, product may get contaminated over time (more on that later).

Most of those shops offer individual bottles for a little extra money.

I just ask them not to pour any lubricant unless I'm present, so far none had a problem with that.

Some time ago, I was taking my Avalanche to one of those shops. It was like a monthly deal. They only used lubricants from their bulk storage tanks to service the rear axle.

Well, on one occasion, they called me a day after they serviced the axle to let me know they had found water in their bulk storage container, they didn't knew if any water was pumped into the axle but wanted to service again for free just in case.

No water was found but still replaced the fluid for free, they also did the next engine service for free.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Stopped in to see the shop owner again today after work.

He confirmed:

they are going to use the van's transmission to cycle 14 qts of Mopar ATF +4 through the machine suing the cooler line
they will use no cleansers or additives; it's a simple fluid exchange
they will simply watch the return line for it to match the color of the supply
no filter change (not super concerned about the tiny amount of the MAXLIFE that could be left in there)
*bonus* he will also turn the front rotors for no charge

Overall, he's really stepped up to make things right with me.
 

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Stopped in to see the shop owner again today after work.

He confirmed:

they are going to use the van's transmission to cycle 14 qts of Mopar ATF +4 through the machine suing the cooler line
they will use no cleansers or additives; it's a simple fluid exchange
they will simply watch the return line for it to match the color of the supply
no filter change (not super concerned about the tiny amount of the MAXLIFE that could be left in there)
*bonus* he will also turn the front rotors for no charge

Overall, he's really stepped up to make things right with me.
Glad to hear. Hopefully it all works out. Keep us posted.
 
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