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Just the other day I did what might have been my transmission's first fluid change in its 136k miles of service. We did a total of 3 drain and fills; we originally wanted to do 4, but I only had 12 quarts of fluid, and I wanted to make sure we were able to top the fluid off since it did seem a little low on the first fill.

I was getting some slippage in 1st, along with slow shifting into Drive- this seems to have solved the issue. Luckily no debris on the drain plug, just a slight layer of gunk, probably from the fluid breaking down.

The old fluid looked like well used motor oil, and smelled pretty darn toasty. I'm assuming that's just from a lot of heat over time causing the fluid to burn?

The fix for that happening would be to install a larger cooler, I presume. Any suggestions on a specific cooler?
 

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Tru-Cool 4454 is a fairly popular option here and what I put on mine mostly due to the cold fluid bypass feature so that the transmission is allowed to come up to operating temp before cooling the fluid. Hope your fluid change takes care of your issue. For others reading this a number of us here would have recommended a less aggressive change schedule on a transmission that was ignored that long. Like a single drain/fill every 30 days or so to keep the fresh additives from breaking up too much of the varnish build up at one time. Check your fluid every few weeks going forward and you'll likely find that it gets dirty pretty quick again. Consider a single drain/fill every oil change going forward until the fluid stays bright red and clean then settle into a routine of a single drain/fill every other oil change or a 3X every 30K.
 

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Cooler is a good addition especially if you tow. Mostly just frequent fluid changes(yearly) will help your tranny. Even a basic cooler will help a lot. I put 342K on my '04 before it was totaled - original tranny.
 

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Just the other day I did what might have been my transmission's first fluid change in its 136k miles of service. We did a total of 3 drain and fills; we originally wanted to do 4, but I only had 12 quarts of fluid, and I wanted to make sure we were able to top the fluid off since it did seem a little low on the first fill.

I was getting some slippage in 1st, along with slow shifting into Drive- this seems to have solved the issue. Luckily no debris on the drain plug, just a slight layer of gunk, probably from the fluid breaking down.

The old fluid looked like well used motor oil, and smelled pretty darn toasty. I'm assuming that's just from a lot of heat over time causing the fluid to burn?

The fix for that happening would be to install a larger cooler, I presume. Any suggestions on a specific cooler?
The cooler will not keep the ATF fresh for another 130K miles or so, BUT, more frequent ATF changes with the PROPER ATF will. But yes, a cooler can help and is almost a necessity if you tow, etc.
You are lucky, overall. Remember that fresh additives will help dissolve some of the varnish and other buildup in the tranny so that is WHY most will advise to drive a minimum of 10 miles between the first and second drain and fill and then usually around a 100 + miles until the next. Supposedly to let the additives in the new fluid clean up the deposits gradually.
I think a single drain and fill around 30K miles is a good interval, but only if the ATF stays looking good..
You dodged a bullet and I would sure look into replacing the external ATF filter since the negligence in not doing ATF changes probably has clogged it up quite a bit.
Some even add a Magnefine filter in the ATF line to help with keeping the fluid clean and also because it is MUCH easier to change than the factory external filter.
Buffalo4
 

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The cooler will not keep the ATF fresh for another 130K miles or so, BUT, more frequent ATF changes with the PROPER ATF will. But yes, a cooler can help and is almost a necessity if you tow, etc.
You are lucky, overall. Remember that fresh additives will help dissolve some of the varnish and other buildup in the tranny so that is WHY most will advise to drive a minimum of 10 miles between the first and second drain and fill and then usually around a 100 + miles until the next. Supposedly to let the additives in the new fluid clean up the deposits gradually.
I think a single drain and fill around 30K miles is a good interval, but only if the ATF stays looking good..
You dodged a bullet and I would sure look into replacing the external ATF filter since the negligence in not doing ATF changes probably has clogged it up quite a bit.
Some even add a Magnefine filter in the ATF line to help with keeping the fluid clean and also because it is MUCH easier to change than the factory external filter.
Buffalo4
Not disagreeing with the idea of adding an in-line filter, but in regard to replacing the factory filter due to clogging I wouldn't worry about it. More trouble than it is worth. The factory filter is designed to bypass once it has captured all the debris it can and fluid flow will remain at factory spec. Just add the in-line filter and be done.
 
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