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Old 05-02-2021, 07:18 AM   #1
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F150 6R80 Tranny Fluid Change

I have been debating/thinking about changing the 6R80 tranny fluid for a couple of years. Ford says you should do it at 100K miles, but in the mountains of Colorado (most of my driving), I decided that was too long. Problem is, there is no drain plug in this tranny and no fill tube or dip stick.

Three weeks ago, I bit the bullet. I bought a B&M tranny pan and and filler tube with dip stick. The B&M pan holds 3 extra quarts for more cooling capacity and has a drain plug. I put in the filler tube first and was able to extract about half of the tranny fluid with an extractor pump before dropping the pan. Much less messy, but still got a good splash as the filter dropped down into the half empty pan. I bolted on the new pan/filter and filled it up.

My observation is that this was worth the effort (and $). The fluid (which is clear red when new) was brown. Looked pretty bad and only had 49K miles on it! The local shops wanted $400 to change the fluid/filter, so I already have my full payback. Changing the fluid every 20K miles is now on my maintenance schedule. I put in a new filter and think I will replace these every 60K miles. I am hoping to drive this truck for a long time.
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Old 05-02-2021, 07:32 AM   #2
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I am no expert on mercron fluid, as I was a gm guy, but it is not unusual for more modern fluid formulations to become more brown than older fluids from yesteryear. It is normal and expected, whereas the older fluids might indicate some severe use when brown.
What you are looking for is blacker fluid and debris in the pan, before concluding a problem or lack of maintenance, as well as a burnt smell.
That said, I do a partial drain and renew every 30ish k, even with (gm) dexron HP.
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Old 05-02-2021, 07:32 AM   #3
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I change the trans oil in my GMC Duramax every 100K kilometers. There is a very good shop that does this and charges about $400 to do it. They change the internal and external filter as well as check everything. The external filter gets changed every second oil change. This cost every 2-3 years is a lot less expensive than a $6000 rebuild! I find it a lot more convenient to have a shop do the work, rather than me laying on my back under the truck. It takes the shop an hour, but would take me a lot longer. Transmissions are often the most overlooked part of the tow vehicle. Regular maintenance and oil changes would save a lot of towing vehicle problems! JMHO
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Old 05-02-2021, 09:21 AM   #4
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Hi Rich,

I am not an expert, either. Fluid was not black, but was maybe 25% opaque, which I didn't like. There was the normal amount of stuff on the magnet and a little bit of sludge on the bottom of the pan. No burnt smell. I have the tow package with a tranny cooler. It only runs on the warmer side going up the passes.

The good thing now is that I can check the level and color any time I want and change it if I do not like it. Better to know than to guess...
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Old 05-03-2021, 06:25 AM   #5
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Hi Rich,

I am not an expert, either. Fluid was not black, but was maybe 25% opaque, which I didn't like. There was the normal amount of stuff on the magnet and a little bit of sludge on the bottom of the pan. No burnt smell. I have the tow package with a tranny cooler. It only runs on the warmer side going up the passes.

The good thing now is that I can check the level and color any time I want and change it if I do not like it. Better to know than to guess...
Sounds totally normal to me. But I would encourage everyone who tows regularly to follow their manufacturer's "severe duty" maintenance schedule religiously. My truck is 75 to 80% towing miles, so I even bump up the schedule.
Fluids are to your TV as blood is to your body. If your liver isn't working and you blood is "dirty" nothing works well.
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Old 05-03-2021, 10:17 AM   #6
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Was the your ecoboost 2.7? 6 speed?
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Old 05-03-2021, 10:25 AM   #7
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Was the your ecoboost 2.7? 6 speed?
3.5L EcoBoost with 6 speed tranny with tow mod.
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Old 05-03-2021, 10:50 AM   #8
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Was the your ecoboost 2.7? 6 speed?
his sig shows a 2014, so it would be the 3.5. They all had the 6-speed until 2017, when the 3.5s got the 10-speed that eventually spread to other engines.
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Old 05-03-2021, 11:34 AM   #9
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I replace mine at 55,000 with full synthetic in my F-150 eco boost. I don’t believe it can be drained as you suggest (like an oil change). It requires special equipment to remove some number of quarts that remain in all the tubes and vast network within the trans. It is not just draining the sump. So, IMO, you replaced 3/4 +/- of your fluid. $400 to have it done professionally is an investment in longevity.
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Old 05-03-2021, 12:30 PM   #10
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I was a Ford Truck Shop Manager and a mechanic. Transmission fluid should never be brown, when it is some damage has already taken place. Towing put a lot of stain a transmission (heat, high pressure and wear), trans fluid is better hydraulic fluid than a lubricant. My suggestion is to have it flushed and the again change fluid and filter. Ford transmission are very good if taken care of.
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Old 05-03-2021, 01:55 PM   #11
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I was a Ford Truck Shop Manager and a mechanic. Transmission fluid should never be brown, when it is some damage has already taken place. Towing put a lot of stain a transmission (heat, high pressure and wear), trans fluid is better hydraulic fluid than a lubricant. My suggestion is to have it flushed and the again change fluid and filter. Ford transmission are very good if taken care of.
Things change.

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Old 05-04-2021, 06:42 AM   #12
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Sorry I did not know that, I retired in 2010. I guess things do change in 11 years.
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Old 05-04-2021, 06:58 AM   #13
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GM on some trucks back then also did not put in drain plugs. I swapped out my factory trans pan for a deep pan as well and could not be happier. The new pan has a drain plug and every year, I dump the pan contents (about 2.5 gallons) and replace with Amsoil ATF. I have heard countless stories of the guy that waits to 75k to do this and then flushes it and shortly thereafter has trans problems. I have also experienced this myself. Tranny with 80k on the clock mostly daily driver, occasional towing of a 2500lb boat. Tranny worked great, decided to change out the fluid. 2 mos later, when driving up a parking garage (not towing), tranny outright failed.

Tranny fluid is a not only a lubricant and a hydraulic fluid, it's a cleaner fluid too. Can't speak to the new trannys out there, but up through about mid to late 2000s, on the old fluids and transmissions, the clutch plates, etc get some vanishes on them and the tranny breaks in. Go in with all fresh fluid with all those fresh cleaning properties, well, you can guess the eventual outcome of cleaning up a well seasoned tranny.

I also strongly recommend looking at the tranny oil to air cooler (if so equipped). If not equipped, add one. I went with the B&M super cooler. Between both the trans temps dropped about 15 degrees on average. Mountain towing I did get to about 205 degrees, but that's mountain towing at grade. I'm normally @170-180 degrees on the flatlands towing.
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Old 05-04-2021, 07:08 AM   #14
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GM on some trucks back then also did not put in drain plugs. I swapped out my factory trans pan for a deep pan as well and could not be happier. The new pan has a drain plug and every year, I dump the pan contents (about 2.5 gallons) and replace with Amsoil ATF. I have heard countless stories of the guy that waits to 75k to do this and then flushes it and shortly thereafter has trans problems. I have also experienced this myself. Tranny with 80k on the clock mostly daily driver, occasional towing of a 2500lb boat. Tranny worked great, decided to change out the fluid. 2 mos later, when driving up a parking garage (not towing), tranny outright failed.

Tranny fluid is a not only a lubricant and a hydraulic fluid, it's a cleaner fluid too. Can't speak to the new trannys out there, but up through about mid to late 2000s, on the old fluids and transmissions, the clutch plates, etc get some vanishes on them and the tranny breaks in. Go in with all fresh fluid with all those fresh cleaning properties, well, you can guess the eventual outcome of cleaning up a well seasoned tranny.

I also strongly recommend looking at the tranny oil to air cooler (if so equipped). If not equipped, add one. I went with the B&M super cooler. Between both the trans temps dropped about 15 degrees on average. Mountain towing I did get to about 205 degrees, but that's mountain towing at grade. I'm normally @170-180 degrees on the flatlands towing.
There are some terminology issues to deal with here, and many folks aren't aware of some differences. Always ask. The term "flush" can be misused by shops as well as customers. If you are being advised to "flush" and it involves a solvent between removal of old fluid and new fluid, PASS. Panamerican is correct about this. The solvent dislodges deposits and can cause shifting problems afterward (or worse). This type of solvent flush should only be done after a catastrophic failure and rebuild of some sort, and should only be done through the cooling system, while open (not attached to the trans). And should be done in a forward and reverse flow manner.

A pressure fluid exchange (a relatively low pressure pumping of new fluid, pushing out the old fluid) is fine.

But I prefer partial home garage changes on a very frequent basis, for the reasons stated above.
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