Transmission fluid

wormDecember 15, 2006

Why don't new cars have transmission fluid dipsticks? My Ford 500 has a little tube where the dipstick tube should be, but it's only a little short thing they probably use at the dealership. Friend of mine with a new Chevy said it's the same thing on his vehicle. Why don't they put a dipstick there anymore? What if you get a small leak? My Taurus had a leak but it took a full year to leak out a quart. I'd just add a quart once a year and I was good. Now I suppose they expect you to come in and spend thousands to fix something like this. When a car gets to the point that it's only worth $1000, nobody will spend that kind of money to fix a leak. So you end up with very usable car in the landfill instead of a quart of transmission fluid on the road over the period of a year. Not very environmental, if that's their intent on not allowing you to add fluid. Is there an aftermarket dipstick that you can put there? Sometimes I think the logic of car companies is insane.

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"Sometimes I think the logic of car companies is insane."

Car manufacturers with LOGIC???? Good one Worm! Have you considered doing stand-up comedy?!?! :-)

The engineering school I went to, they abbreviated all the majors. So an electrical engineer was a 'EE', a Civil Engineer was a 'CE', mechanical engineer an 'ME', etc.... This, and MANY things just like it, is what I call 'SE': Stooopid Engineering. Sometimes a design change just for the sake of making a change ain't necessarily a good thing. SAAB engines sitting backwards comes to mind... but there are MANY others.

Worked on a late model Corvette today with the oil pressure gauge pegged out high. Turned out to be a faulty sending unit (although they call it a "sensor" on this particular model it is essentially the same thing). On most cars it is a matter of minutes to unscrew/screw a new unit. On this technological marvel, the intake has to come off to access it. Yep, S.E.! And before, anyone jumps on the domestic vehicle bashing bandwagon as is customary on this forum... the imports have plenty of S.E. of their own.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2006 at 9:59PM
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Yes, I understand and agree. But, why would they take away your ability to check and add one of the major fluids of your car? What's next? Not being able to check your antifreeze or oil? Just drive until things fail and then junk the car? Do they think customers are too stupid to be able to add the correct fluid? It's called out in the owner's manual, you know. Not being able to check a major fluid of your vehicle is pure insanity. I think if car companies don't want to allow you to do that, they should pay for any failures due to low transmission fluid, even if it's ten years down the road.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2006 at 2:23PM
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Aww, comeon, think of the Money they saved by not making a dipstick! I hear the new MB diesels don't even have an OIL dipstick@!!! something about computer controlled oil level.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 11:44AM
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Sometimes the engineers actually have good reasons for doing some of what they do. Saabs with the backwards engines has to do with the front of the car getting packed with snow. By putting the belts in the back, it helped reduce that kind of trouble.

As far as no dipsticks, that has been the trend for close to a decade. But the latest one I encountered has really rubbed me the wrong way. Most of the non-dipstick cars, have the tech use a scan tool, and get the transmission to a specific temperature. Then you remove a weep plug, and fill just until fluid seeps from that passage. This prevents overfilling, which can be every bit as damaging as underfilling. The Chrysler 300 I had this week, actually still uses a dipstick, but it's not part of the car. It is considered a special tool, that the shop must purchase. So I had a choice, do a $100 transmission service, that was going to COST me $140.00 in filter, fluid, and this tool to do, or simply turn the service away.

I turned him away.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 5:51PM
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John - What you are saying really confirms my gripes about this. Not only are the car companies taking the customer's ability to do simple things like check transmission fluid away, but it's even to the stage where they are taking business away from good independent service shops like you and forcing people to go back to car dealerships, or just flat out ignore a lot of maintenance altogether. If they make it too difficult and expensive to do the maintenance, I bet people just won't do it. I've known people who have driven vehicles over 200,000 miles and never touched transmission fluid. I'm not so sure that transmission fluid won't last the life of the car, except for cases where you're pulling trailers, etc. and heating the fluid up too much.

As far as the special tool goes. I assume it's a tool that could be used more than once, so can't you think of it as a wrench or screwdriver? It's something that remains in your tool kit forever. Do they have one tool for all Chrysler products, or does each model / year, etc. take a different tool. Again, if that's the case, obviously the car companies don't have the customer in mind.

Technology is a good thing. Nobody wants to go back to the days when you had to choke a car and and sit in it with your foot on the gas pedal and rev it to warm it up for 10 minutes before you could drive it. But, also technology has driven maintenance and repair costs way up. Remember the day of $20 tuneups? I do. I guess lots of people don't worry about taking cars past 100,000 miles anyway like I do. And most cars now you don't have to do much of anything except change oil for the first 100,000 miles and then you get rid of the car.

Actually, I like a lot of the things they've done to minimize maintenance, like not having grease fittings and grease wheel bearings, etc. But, the transmission fluid is still there and should be maintained.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 10:58AM
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This tool works for this car, and this car only. It's not impossible to think that I could buy one, and never use it. What is scary, is just how many tools that are a one vehicle only use I could have to buy. Especially when they have virtually no-resale value.

I can show you probably ten grand worth of tools that I own that have been used less than three times. I do have a lot of specific tool sets that have individual components that have never been used. Which reminds me, I have one tool. An adapter for a fuel system that allows me to connect a pressure gage that I used for the first time today. It was about a $60.00 option when I replaced my fuel pressure gage this year, and I finally got to use it. I still have 4 pieces of this kit that have yet to be taken out of their shipping bags....

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 10:26PM
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at one time in my younger yrs i checked that stuff every week, in the last 10 yrs or so they could make mine without dip sticks, maybe they did, i have never looked under the hood of my last 2 cars. let the dealer check it.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 5:41AM
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So, what is the real reason for the auto companies propagating such insanity?

John - you say nobody knows better what's good for your car than the engineers that design them. Do you really think the engineers are making the decision to deny customers and independent auto shops a means of checking and maintaining transmission fluid, or is it a decision by accountants to save $2 on a dipstick and tube? I can't imagine an engineer saying "let's just take away dipsticks and let the transmissions fail if a leak develops." Engineers actually do have pride in their designs. Instead, what I CAN imagine is engineers complaining amongst themselves about how management forced this stupid decision. I don't know how many times cost reduction decisions have caused problems. There are certain managers where I work that say they won't ALLOW cost reduction programs, because they COST too much in the end.

Maybe the auto companies don't care if it's out of warranty. Is this part of planned obsolesence? A plan to get autos off the road? Maybe they don't like cars like my Taurus that I traded in with 235,000 miles. And yes, I was adding a quart of transmission fluid every 6 months. If I hadn't been able to do that, I'm sure my tranmission would have failed after a couple years. But with the ability to add transmission fluid, I'm sure this car would still be on the road at 300,000 miles, if I still owned it.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 9:32AM
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I agree with this worm - the car companys do some awful stupid things. And no-one is free from this, even the Japanese.
Management does make the vehicles good for 100K miles - thats it - beyond this "magic mark" , they take a bad attitude and do not care.
Yes, the cost cutters (the bean counters) do create problems with their lack or real world knowledge - many of them have never left their ivory towers...and soiled their hands..

    Bookmark   December 26, 2006 at 8:56PM
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Well manual geraboxes haven't had dipsticks for 40 years.

And more people (including _dealers_) stuffed up transmissions overfilling them than transmissions die from lack of lubrication ( a LOT more).

When fluid is low the transmission plays up and then you get it checked.

The manufacturers only design the cars to last for 6 years (the first owner - usually a fleet - then the second owner).
The transmission is unlikely to give trouble in this period.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2007 at 9:54PM
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The dipstick for the Five Hundred CVT Tran is located under the air intake hose.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 11:21PM
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