Last post on Jul 12, 2010 at 4:20 PM
You are in the Ford Freestyle
What is this discussion about?
Ford Freestyle, Engine, Transmission, SUV
#1 of 15 Transmission fluid, how often does it need to be changed??
Jan 16, 2009 (12:00 pm)
This is a follow up on the "Very cold engine" post....
After taking my 2007 FS SEL AWD to the dealer for the poor performance in very low temps (extremely noisy engine and no pull) they suggested I check the transmission fluid level. Since this model has the closed transmission system there shouldn't be a low level, right? Also, we are at 25.000 miles now, I heard that the fluid wouldn't have to be changed until approx. 50,000.
What do the experts on FS and CVT say?
Thanks for your input!!!
#2 of 15 Re: Transmission fluid, how often does it need to be changed?? [manyqx]
Jan 16, 2009 (5:43 pm)
manyqx, This is a subject I know well. Trust me. Here is what I know:
1. Ford recommends a CVT transmission service every 60,000 miles regardless of time (only mileage is important). That being said, I personally wouldn't leave fluid in for more than 6 years if I put fewer miles on, in case that is an issue with anyone.
2. The CVT transmission fluid is special & unique, and can only be purchased at a Ford dealership, as far as I know. This is nowhere near conventional transmission fluid, but the Ford mechanics should know that and put the right stuff in.
3. Ford mechanics should never flush this CVT. There have been rare reports of silly mechanics who might have flushed it with some kind of solvent. Don't ever do that to this CVT. (OK with normal transmissions, just not this CVT.)
4. There are two filters inside the CVT. The pan filter never has to be changed, according to Ford. The other filter, Motorcraft part number FT-178 Filter Kit, should be put on every 60,000 miles when the fluid is changed, and there are also o-rings in that kit that a Ford mechanic would know what to do with. There have been rare reports of dealership service departments not knowing quite what to do with the CVT, treating it like a conventional transmission, and changing the pan filter and forgetting about the real filter (FT-178) that they need to replace (some confusion). When I go to do all this, I'm going to list out the steps and bring the FT-178 part to them to make sure it jogs the Ford mechanics memory. I'd recommend getting an FT-178 mail order from rockauto.com, as they are about 70% cheaper than most Ford dealership parts departments with this small filter.
5. When they change the fluid, I don't think they can get all the old stuff out. Thats OK, just let them drain it and fill it back up with as much new fluid as they can.
6. One person I read about on another thread got a used Freestyle with about 100,000 miles on the CVT, and the original past owners forgot to service the transmission. This was not a big problem apparently, as the Freestyle CVT was doing fine. This is a tough fluid, after all. So one shouldn't panic too much if 60,000 miles isn't nailed on the head.
7. When checking the fluid level, the temperature of the fluid has to be carefully taken into account, a procedure a Ford mechanic should know, and he'll pull a top plug out and stick a special dipstick in there.
8. I'm pretty sure that low CVT fluid level would show up as a warning light on the instrument panel. Not absolutely sure of that, so ask a Ford mechanic.
Jan 16, 2009 (6:23 pm)
Funny you should ask this now. I went by Ford today and asked about how frequently I should have the fluid changed in the CVT. The manual only says 60,000 miles, with no mention of time or "hard service". Mine is 4 years old with 30k miles on it. I was considering changing every 30k miles.
The Service Advisor told me that you don't have to change the fluid on this thing. Strange answer. He said that the 60k mentioned in the manual is just a "generic thing" for most transmissions, and shouldn't be in there. I don't think I believe him.
#4 of 15 Re: [barnstormer64]
Jan 16, 2009 (6:44 pm)
barnstormer, You are right not to believe that Service Advisor. The "generic" Ford automatic transmission service fluid/filter change is 100,000 miles on most newer Fords. The CVT has a more frequent fluid/filter change interval, unfortunately for us.
It is true that time is not a factor, only mileage, in both kinds of automatic transmission fluids.
If I were you, I wouldn't change it every 30,000 miles. I'm thinking about doing mine at 55,000 miles, just a little early.
Jan 17, 2009 (7:04 am)
He did mention that the new Fords were 100k miles for the transmissions.
I was assuming that at the time I bought my Freestyle (and Five Hundred with a CVT, too) that Ford's transmissions were typically 60k.
I also asked about any fluid for the AWD system (I have that on both vehicles). He indicated that there wasn't anything that needed to be changed. Doesn't seem right to me.
#6 of 15 Re: [barnstormer64]
Jan 17, 2009 (7:27 am)
I don't know about the AWD system, but it wouldn't surprise me that it never needs changing, as car makers have moved toward using synthetic diff oil in those that will last for 10 years, which is all they care about.
When we say "newer" Fords have a 100,000 transmision change interval, I think thats been the case for about 8 years now in Ford's conventional automatics, so thats what I mean by "newer". The CVT is really an aberration. A totally different animal, as that big steel chain inside needs its lube.
Jan 17, 2009 (8:15 am)
Seems surprising to me that the Service Advisor was that unaware of the CVT's requirements.
I honestly don't think that particular dealer has ever serviced the CVT. That Service Advisor has been there at least 5 or 6 years.
#8 of 15 Re: [barnstormer64]
Jan 17, 2009 (9:10 am)
That service advisor probably just had a brain freeze or something. Ford has put about 350,000 or so CVTs in Ford500s/ Freestyles/Montegos in recent memory.
Jan 17, 2009 (1:41 pm)
Yeah, but how many of those have had to have the fluid changed so far?
#10 of 15 Re: [barnstormer64]
Jan 17, 2009 (2:27 pm)
If that particular dealer, or any dealer for that matter, sold only a few or no Freestyles they may not have sent any techs to CVT training. The first question I would ask is "have your transmission technicians received CVT training and does your shop have the proper equipment for a CVT fluid change"? Any cross contamination with conventional tranny fluid can damage your CVT. I asked at my dealer and two techs are certified. Also, if you purchased your Freestyle from a small town dealer, I would consider taking it to a higher volume dealership to have the CVT maintenance done. The reason being, there's a better chance they have the proper equipment and the certified techs, not a transmission tech who has to read a step, perform it, read another step and so on. Since this work is done at approximately 60000 miles, many cars will be past the warranty date. If there was a problem say 2000 miles later because the tech wasn't properly trained and you couldn't prove it, well, I know how ticked off I would be.