The Truth About Cars » flush http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 12 Sep 2014 23:54:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » flush http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Piston Slap: Sucking At Fluid Changes? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/piston-slap-sucking-fluid-changes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/piston-slap-sucking-fluid-changes/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 12:40:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=901234   Longtime TTAC Commentator ajla writes: Hi Sajeev, I do a more through job at the time of purchase, but every year after I do a drain/refill on the radiator and replace some transmission fluid by using my fluid extractor to vacuum up as much ATF as possible through the dipstick tube. I know that […]

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(photo courtesy: http://forums.bimmerforums.com)

Pick Up The Pace! (photo courtesy: http://forums.bimmerforums.com)

Longtime TTAC Commentator ajla writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I do a more through job at the time of purchase, but every year after I do a drain/refill on the radiator and replace some transmission fluid by using my fluid extractor to vacuum up as much ATF as possible through the dipstick tube.

I know that I’m not getting all the fluids exchanged this way, but my question is how much of a positive impact is this regiment actually having on my cars? Am I just wasting my time? I haven’t suffered a mechanical failure since I started doing this, but I don’t know if that proves much.

Keep in mind that the vehicles I tend to own are 20 to 30 years old.

Sajeev answers:

In theory, fluid changes via modest exchanging of old for new is a great idea.  I’ve done this countless times to my brother’s C5/C6 Corvette hydraulic clutch reservoirs, especially after his ZR1 (that some might remember) lost the clutch on an especially hot afternoon of autocrossing…and I’m far from Jack Baruth around the rubber cones!

But the need for annual coolant/ATF servicing is unlikely: both coolant (even the old green stuff) and ATF lasts far longer than a year, at least double for coolant and more like quadruple for ATF. Assuming modest annual mileage, vehicle age is somewhat irrelevant, unless it’s an old truck regularly towing an overloaded trailer.

For you and your cadre of classics? Do fluid changes like ATF/Coolant every 2-5 years, more often for engine oil (duh) and less for other wear items (brake fluid).

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: Chronic Xterra Maintenance? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-the-wussy-xterra/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-the-wussy-xterra/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:26:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871778   m koonce writes: Sajeev – you wanted questions, I have questions! First – I love your column. Great advice, and well written. Now my question(s). I have a 2009 Nissan Xterra 4wd, X model, 52k miles, and no problems except door squeaks and rubber molding which wont stay attached but that’s trivial. My question […]

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Capture

No correlation. (photo courtesy: http://images.gtcarlot.com)

m koonce writes:

Sajeev – you wanted questions, I have questions! First – I love your column. Great advice, and well written. Now my question(s).

  1. I have a 2009 Nissan Xterra 4wd, X model, 52k miles, and no problems except door squeaks and rubber molding which wont stay attached but that’s trivial. My question is, when should I have a “tuneup” done – i.e., change the spark plugs. Should I wait until Nissan’s recommended mileage (105k miles I think), or do it sooner? And should I replace all the coils at the same time (I presume the truck has a coil-on-plug ignition setup)? What else should I have done at the same time?
  2. Re: same vehicle: at 36k miles (May 2013) I did a transmission fluid dump and refill at local dealership, and did the same again at 49k miles in May 2014, again at dealership. My plan is to continue this dump and refill procedure every year for as long as I own the truck. Am I on the right track here? I’ve also had all other fluids replaced, except brake fluid which will be replaced when I have a brake job done.

Thanks for your advice, and keep up the good work.

Sajeev answers:

Actually you have three questions, come on son!  Now you know I’ll Google up some half-cocked give an enlightening answer for just about any question. And my goodness, do you need questions answered, for the sake of your poor, poor wallet!

Question 1: Squeaky rubber seals: spray them with a silicone based lubricant (safe on rubber, less sticky than WD-40) or do it right with this tube of magic.

Question 2: Direct injection systems aside…rarely, if ever, does a non-modified vehicle driven by a law-abiding motorist need new spark plugs before the recommended interval. Even DI motors won’t necessarily need aggressive plug replacements, and the supercharged versions of your Nissan are fine if you follow the owner’s manual. Spark plugs, be it iridium or platinum, have come a long way, baby!

Question 2.5:  Replace coil pack(s) when the engine computer says so. That is, when you get a stumble/misfire, you scan for codes, etc. and determine the misbehaving coil. Do not change them during the mandated tune up interval, only change normal wear items as per owner’s manual recommendations.

Question 3: ZOMG UR ON THE WRONG TRACK!  Unless this is a work truck towing a loaded trailer every day in city traffic, there’s zero reason for annual ATF changes. You’d be more than safe swapping it out every 50,000-100,000 miles.

Put more succinctly: stop treating this rig like it’s a delicate flower!

Vehicles in the last 25+ years successfully embraced electronic engine control technology, and “long life” fluids are held in high regard across the board…well, Dex-Cool aside. The sooner you embrace the robust beauty of modern vehicles (and fluids) the sooner you can stop punishing your wallet.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: Crystal Ballin’ With Yo Tranny! (Part II) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/piston-slap-crystal-ballin-with-yo-tranny-part-ii/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/piston-slap-crystal-ballin-with-yo-tranny-part-ii/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 12:24:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=789569 Aaron writes: Hey Sajeev, Huge fan of TTAC and the piston slap articles. My problem is that I noticed my car(2007 honda civic)would shudder, under light throttle and low rpms especially when going up a slight slope. This usually happens at 30km/hr or 40km/hr. I took it to the honda dealer(4 months ago) and he […]

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Anything is Possible... (photo courtesy: http://theinspirationroom.com)

Aaron writes:

Hey Sajeev,

Huge fan of TTAC and the piston slap articles. My problem is that I noticed my car(2007 honda civic)would shudder, under light throttle and low rpms especially when going up a slight slope. This usually happens at 30km/hr or 40km/hr. I took it to the honda dealer(4 months ago) and he said the torque converter(tc) needs to be replaced(300 for tc plus 900 for labour and stuff).

My university got a bit busy and I took some time to think about it. The problem might be slightly worse now so I recently went back to the dealer to get more details about the cost and now they are saying the price of the tc has increased to 800 plus another 800 for labour. The guy suggested maybe just changing the transmission fluid(because it is starting to get dark) and driving the car until it fails and getting a new transmission for $3000 because the transmission will probably go out soon anyway.

I’m not sure what to do now. I’m considering going to a transmission shop and see if they can change the tc, but I’m worried about going to a random mechanic. I know a small time mechanic whom I go to for small stuff but I’m not sure if his shop is capable of swapping the tc(is it that complicated?). I have also looked online and found other people saying that if the torque converter is failing, the transmission is probably going to go soon. Some other people have said that if the torque converter fails, it could take out the rest of the transmission which might have been working fine otherwise. I then found another group of people saying that I should just drive the car without changing the transmission fluid because even changing the fluid could cause the transmission to fail sooner.

I just want to know which of these are actually true and what should my next course of action be. If the torque converter can be changed for a reasonable price and my transmission keeps working, I would like to do that. Or maybe I should see if I can get the entire transmission rebuilt or replaced.

Thank you,
Aaron

P.S: Not sure if this matters, but the car once overheated severely (about 3 years ago) and about half the engine had to be replaced under warranty. The engine has been running smoothly since then and the only other problem is that recently(2 months ago) my engine starter and battery had to be replaced. The battery connectors also look pretty bad so I’m going to replace that soon. Hmmm maybe I should just sell my car.

Sajeev answers:

Oh great, another mystery box transaxle/crystal ballin’ yo tranny problem: one day the B&B will string me up for these blind guesses.

That said, on a more serious note, how many miles are on the Civic?

Aaron responds:

Hey Sajeev,

Thanks for the quick reply. It has 156,000 km(96,000 miles). Admittedly, the car has been driven pretty hard. I just did a quick stall speed test(mashing the brake and hitting the throttle) and the revs went up to 2,500rpm in both drive and reverse. That seems pretty normal. I drove around trying to recreate the problem(Light throttle and flat roads or slight inclines).

It happens at:

  • 15 or 20km/h (9 or 12mph)
  • 30ish km/h (18mph)
  • 40ish km/h (25mph)
  • And at 55ish km/h (34.18mph), the shuddering is only minor at this speed

There is also a sound when this happens, it sounds like metal spinning against metal in a liquid. However, this sound can only be heard if the shuddering is not too violent. If it is violent, it just sounds like the car kind of wants to stall. I checked the transmission fluid and it looks pretty brown and has a slight burning smell. If the car is accelerating faster( atleast above 2000rpm), it feels like there is no problem. Also no problem when slowing down.
Thank you,
Aaron

Sajeev concludes:

Great assessment!  At this age (under 100k miles) odds are new and correct fluid will solve it: flush the old fluid out of the converter and also drop the pan to change the filter. Which might be asking a lot for many shops, but I’d want all the old ATF out of the system. So will this cure the problem?  Will thoroughly removing varnished ATF cause even more problems than a shudder?

Maybe on both counts.  Or maybe one and not the other.  See how much fun this is for me?

My best guess: do as the dealer said, change the fluid. If it fails, get a rebuilt transaxle from a Honda savvy shop.  Because opening up a transaxle for anything and not doing a rebuild is likely a waste of time, labor and money.

It’s usually best to prolong that moment with anything…including a fluid change. Even if the fluid change actually shortens the tranny’s lifespan. So much fun!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Of Portal Handling Pleasures http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/vellum-venom-vignette-of-portal-handling-pleasures/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/vellum-venom-vignette-of-portal-handling-pleasures/#comments Tue, 09 Jul 2013 12:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494481 Jeremy writes: Hi Sajeev, G’day from Down Under. Big fan of the Vellum Venom column of yours. Car design, and more importantly the smaller details of car design have always fascinated me, even though I couldn’t design a car if my life depended on it. The first bit of design that really hit me was […]

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Jeremy writes:

Hi Sajeev,

G’day from Down Under. Big fan of the Vellum Venom column of yours. Car design, and more importantly the smaller details of car design have always fascinated me, even though I couldn’t design a car if my life depended on it. The first bit of design that really hit me was the first appearance of BMW’s “Angel Eyes” on the E39 M5.

Anyway, I’ve always wondered when and more importantly why have the “pull-type” door handles become the norm?

Excluding exotics, pretty much every car on sale now has this type of door handle. It’s obviously not a legal requirement, as the Civic hatch (among others) has “hidden” rear handles. I do think it’s boring though – every door handle is the same. It seems gone are the days of the NA MX-5 handles, or even the door handles on the EA-BF Ford Falcons.

Sajeev answers:

Agreed 100%, and thank you very kindly.  Your (wonderful) note poked at another one of my sore spots in modern automotive design: but while DLO FAIL is a horrid workaround, pull-out handles are merely a disappointment. But are these part of our mandatory modern automotive design lexicon, like goofy tall hoods needed to pass muster with Euro NCAP pedestrian protection standards?

Nope: along with your examples, peep ‘dat Dodge Charger SRT8 above. Two generations of the Dodge Charger wear unique, almost-flush mount door handles! For all the grief this website gives DaimlerChrysler-CerberusChrysler-FIATChrysler for their evil ways (baby) can you believe someone allowed the Dodge version of the Chrysler 300 to have unique door handles?

So Chrysler’s got themselves a mighty-fine handle.  Now take the Toyota Venza for an example of a pull-out handle.

To Toyota’s credit, their corporate pull-out handle is differentiated (by model) through unbelievably simple yet clever/unique door skin stampings: giving the impression of a different handle with just a tweak to the negative area underneath.  Not to say that Toyota has only one type of pull-out handle, far from it.  Which begs the question, why make every unit a pull-out handle casting if you’re making multiple designs for various vehicles?

I think there are multiple reasons, and cost has nothing to do with it.

First, embracing basic Physics: a door handle that pulls straight out shall open a door more efficiently than a flush mount handle with its “dog leg” hinges.  Why pull up and around when you can pull straight out?

Second, durability:  flush door handles with the aforementioned dog leg hinges are less durable.  Take the ones my Lincoln Mark VIII’s door handle (above).  The dog legs behind the plastic bezel are made of cheap pot metal, and careless user inputs mean they will shatter in cold weather…when trying to open a door as magnificently huge as said Lincoln.  They needed to be higher quality (i.e. more $$$) because of point Number Three.

Third, weight: today’s doors are larger (taller) than ever, with more side-impact protection than 20-ish years ago, more speakers, extra sound deadening material (including thicker glass) tighter weatherstripping (more force sucking shut in certain weather conditions) and more power features (power windows, locks, key-less transmitter sensors, etc.).  So, assuming similar construction and material choices (i.e. plastic, not steel) why would you work harder operating a dog leg hinge?

When you combine my three points, you have a slam dunk case for widespread adoption of pull-out handles. Assuming the same level of material quality in both designs, the pull out handles are more durable over years/decades of use.

About your “when” question: the ’00s were the era of abandoning flush mount handles, as almost every mainstream vehicle was redesigned in this decade. Except for the Ford Ranger (2011, out of neglect) and the Dodge Charger/Challenger (out of Who The Hell knows).  Am I right or wrong here?

Anyway, thank you all for reading. Have a great week.

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Piston Slap: An Inappropriate Grab? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/piston-slap-an-inappropriate-grab/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/piston-slap-an-inappropriate-grab/#comments Mon, 14 Jan 2013 12:32:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=473537 TTAC Commentator flipper35 writes: Hi Sajeev, We have a 2000 Dodge Durango 2WD with rear abs (hub assembly is different than if the front had abs if it matters) and 165k miles.  It has been a pretty good truck with few issues but we do have an annoying one that came up.  The truck isn’t […]

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TTAC Commentator flipper35 writes:

Hi Sajeev,

We have a 2000 Dodge Durango 2WD with rear abs (hub assembly is different than if the front had abs if it matters) and 165k miles.  It has been a pretty good truck with few issues but we do have an annoying one that came up.  The truck isn’t a commuter for me, just for the occasional errand that my wife needs to run or when the whole family goes somewhere so it gets driven a couple times a week just a few miles on the highway into town and back.  The issue is the brakes. 

They work fine but when stopping at highway speeds with constant pressure on the pedal the brakes will suddenly grab more and sometimes it is one side that will grab slightly quicker than the other then the braking is equal again.  These pads have about 8k mile on them and are a ceramic composite pad and were bedded properly when installed but the rotors had some slight grooving and the old one had little life left.  I went with this style because the last set of ceramic composite (NAPA brand) were great with good feel and exceptional performance when hustling on the back roads.  The new ones are from a parts warehouse that supplies parts stores all over the area (dad works there so I got a great discount.  During heavy braking the issue doesn’t show up but it is a little disconcerting to have the truck pull to one side briefly during normal stops.  The brakes will exhibit some fade now when hustling the curvy roads where the old ones did not.  Re-bed or replace pads and rotors?  Rust from sitting a while after the last snow storm and salty roads?

Sajeev answers:

Getting old sucks.  While I am not sure of the exact problem, I betcha it’s one of these:

  • Collapsed brake line (inspect all rubber components)
  • Rusty brake caliper bores (reman replacements are cheap)
  • Crud in the brake caliper’s fluid reservoir (see above)
  • Very, very bad brake fluid (flush the system entirely)
  • Extremely loose ball joint on one side (not likely)

It sounds like you have the brake pad and rotor situation under control, and you drive it enough to make rust a non-starter.  I mean non-stopper.

I think you have an old truck that needs more than a basic brake job. Time to check the calipers, the brake lines and the suspension. Hopefully all you need are a new pair of front calipers: they are about $25 each from Rock Auto. Score.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Piston Slap: Too Cool, or Dex-Cool? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/piston-slap-dex-cool-or-just-too-cool/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/piston-slap-dex-cool-or-just-too-cool/#comments Mon, 06 Aug 2012 11:57:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=455524     Nate writes: Ok, you asked for input and I’ve got a question about my 2003 Cadillac CTS. I figure I’m more likely to get a reliable answer from you and the best & brightest of TTAC than the goof balls at Car Talk (this letter is from February-SM), so I’ll ask. I bought […]

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Nate writes:

Ok, you asked for input and I’ve got a question about my 2003 Cadillac CTS. I figure I’m more likely to get a reliable answer from you and the best & brightest of TTAC than the goof balls at Car Talk (this letter is from February-SM), so I’ll ask.

I bought this CTS back in November. It had 135,000 miles on the odo, came from a private owner and apparently had significant engine work accomplished a year or so ago apparently as a result of a timing belt failure after it wasn’t replaced on schedule. Before being able to get the car licensed, I paid to have the thermostat and temp sensor replaced as I had a CEL and a P0128 code and the car wouldn’t pass inspection with a CEL code. The code came back after just about 1 week.

The CEL will clear if the ambient temps move up above 45-50 degrees but returns when the temps get back down to Utah normals for winter. I’ve been unable to find an online solution. I’ve considered installing a temporary partial radiator block, (cardboard & duct tape) to see if that old school fix brings the temp up. The car doesn’t have a temp gauge- thanks for nothing GM; but seems to warm up the cabin appropriately if not exceptionally fast.

Am I going to have to reset the codes each December before taking this in for emissions inspection or is there a real fix?

Sajeev answers:

Much like LSX swaps for people wanting to make a slow car fast, much like Panther Love for someone wanting a cheap and durable ride, I pretty much always think Dex-Cool is the problem when certain vintage GM products have temperature control problems.  As this paragraph shows, Dex-Cool is not my friend…and I am somewhat less goofy than the Car Talk peeps.

On the plus side, others are in your situation and they agree with me. Let’s face it: the timing belt proves that this car was neglected.  It’s a safe bet that Dex-Cool was never changed either, possibly topped off with non Dex-Cool compatible fluid too.  So there is a TON of the stuff you see in the photo below. And above. So I suspect that the 1 week grace period you mentioned was the time necessary to re-clog that temperature sensor and cause the P0128 to trip yet again.

I’d recommend a closer look at your cooling system, probably replacing the radiator too.   Just be careful how aggressively you remove Dex-Cool from the cooling system, you could flush it all out and get a ton of Dex-Cool “snot” stuck in the heater core. Which means you no longer have a heater. Which means…well, have fun removing the interior to get the heater core out. In a Utah winter. Damn, Son…

Sorry, I wish I saw another way out.  Maybe the B&B can help.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Piston Slap: Dreading “The Dreaded” ATF Flush? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/piston-slap-dreading-the-dreaded-atf-flush/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/piston-slap-dreading-the-dreaded-atf-flush/#comments Wed, 03 Aug 2011 15:04:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=405329 Jackson writes: I own a 2001 Nissan Maxima and a 2006 Corvette, both purchased new w/cash. I know the Maxima with 105,000+ miles has had two ATF services, which included the “dreaded ATF Flush”. So far the thing keeps running, only issue (unrelated) was a Cat replacement (99,000) and 3 O2 sensors around the same […]

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Jackson writes:

I own a 2001 Nissan Maxima and a 2006 Corvette, both purchased new w/cash. I know the Maxima with 105,000+ miles has had two ATF services, which included the “dreaded ATF Flush”. So far the thing keeps running, only issue (unrelated) was a Cat replacement (99,000) and 3 O2 sensors around the same time.

The 2006 Corvette at 5 years and 42,600 miles is due for a coolant service and I see that the ATF service is 50,000 (harsh) or 100,000 (normal). So far expenses have been limited to gas, once a year oil changes and a set of tires at 26,000 due to some aggressive driving, aggressive factory camber settings and a shard of metal. It’s been spotless so far besides a squeaky roof panel which has been solved by periodic application of Super Lube to some contact points. Should I do an ATF flush for the vette? It would be a BG machine. It’s a warm weather commuter for me (42 miles round trip per day of which 26 is highway miles on which avg. speed 75 mph which is just 3 days a week).

I have taken it on 6 long trips over the years as well as weekend cruises. I do use the paddles about 30% of the time, but do not really hoon it so much the past 2 years after getting 3 speeding tickets in 6 month period…which I fought and is another subject. So please advise.

Sajeev answers:

The easier of the two to E-diagnose is the ‘vette. First, I really hope you ditch(ed) those run flat tires for some donuts befitting a Porsche 911, as that is what the Corvette deserved from the factory. And like much like Motor Trend’s game changing car of the year, the 1997 Chevy Malibu, the C6 Corvette comes with a sealed-for-life transmission. Which begs the question, where did you hear about a 50,000 mile service interval under any condition? Not that owner’s manuals are always right, but I seriously doubt you read that from your glovebox.

These gearboxes normally go 100,000-ish miles before servicing, and your driving habits are definitely within that realm. If you have the motivation, check the fluid’s condition using the link’s info. Odds are the ATF is fine, it should have a pink color with a slightly sweet smell. If it has black-ish bits and smells like a BBQ pit, change it according to factory procedures…and good luck with that!

Now about the Maxima: I question if an “ATF flush” is really something to dread. I’d be quite thrilled with your vehicle, if I were to buy it from you. The biggest plus in the flush’s favor is how it blows out all the old fluid from the torque convertor, which is essentially impossible in vehicles without a drain plug on said convertor’s case. While it doesn’t change the transmission filter, I’ve been told by several techs that this filter isn’t exactly that high tolerance in its filtering capability. Which implies…

…that doing the “dreaded ATF flush” when your fluid degrades essentially makes the transmission filter a lifetime service part. My thoughts are completely debunked over here, but I see their opinion as more applicable to car with more advanced transmission failures.

What say you, Best and Brightest?

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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