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Old 06-26-2012, 10:14 PM
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Transmission Issue?

I took my Jeep into the dealer the other day for a routine oil change and had one of those quick inspections done. The tech told me that my transmission fluid is dark and smells burnt. I currently have 51,000 miles on the car, is it normal for the transmission fluid to get that color and smell burnt after 50,000 miles? I bought the jeep with 25,000 miles on it so I'm not sure how it was driven for the first half of its life to date but my daily commute consists of about 30 miles both ways of stop and go traffic in the Northeast. I guess I should mention its a 08 WK Laredo with 3.7 V6 with Quadra Trac 1. Thanks for the help.
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Old 06-26-2012, 10:33 PM
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Re: Transmission Issue?

The original color of the fluid is red, but the color itself is no (direct) indication of the fluid condition, it will get darker over time. Fresh fluid has a somewhat sweet smell and the smell normally doesnīt change that much. If there is really a burnt smell to the fluid, there is a good change that something wrong is going on. If it shifts normally, i would start with a fluid/filters change and check the fluid regulary afterwards to see if color changes quickly and the burnt smell comes back. Burnt smell can be because of slipping clutches. A normal fluid service however doesnīt get the fluid out of the torque converter. I solved this by taking loose the transmission cooler line going to the cooler and put it in a bucket. When starting the engine, the old fluid will be coming out of the line. It will take 2 or 3 qts before fresh fluid comes out.
I had it last year on my tranny and now problems started again. Last year the tranny lost 3rd gear suddenly, however i didnīt see anything wrong with the fluid prior to this, no signs at all. A complete rebuild was done (at least that is what the rebuilder told me), but now it has a slipping 2nd gear and dark, almost black looking fluid, but not smelling burnt.
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Old 06-26-2012, 10:40 PM
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Re: Transmission Issue?

No, it shouldn't be dark and burnt. Did you check it for yourself to verify? I know you don't have a dipstick, but you can use a piece of welding rod, a straightened out coat hanger, or even the dipstick out of another vehicle, or your engine dipstick, just for checking the color/smell. Does it appear to be working normally? The 3.7 has a NAG1 tranny, which is normally pretty good, and is certainly (IMO) better than the 545RFE that comes in the 4.7 and 5.7. I've got the NAG1 in my Hemi LX, and it has worked flawlessly for 53K. I'll be servicing it at 60K. If yours is dark and burnt, definitely service it, and check for debris in the pan. Also, did the dealer verify that the fluid level was correct, or just tell you its bad?
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Old 06-27-2012, 06:29 AM
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Re: Transmission Issue?

Thanks for the replies guys. Sorry to hear about your issues Frango, I'm going to change the fluid out and see what happens. Coman I havent checked the fluid myself, just going on the dealers word at this point, he just told me it was bad didnt say anything about the fluid levels. The transmission seems to be working fine, it shifts smoothly when driving. The only compliant I have is that it sometimes makes a slight shudder when I let my foot off the gas and it searches for 3 or 4th gear.
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Old 06-27-2012, 08:38 AM
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Re: Transmission Issue?

Not to bad mouth all repair shops, but I have certainly encountered many that will say that my fluid looks/smells burnt if I had to take it in for other work.

When I point out that I replaced the fluid X months ago, and that I checked before bringing it in and it they usually change their story a little bit and say that they were just going by the mileage and that if it hadn't been serviced that it should be done...followed by an awkward smile.

It's a scary thing for people to hear that their transmission is in dire need of service, and they are just hoping you'll be freaked out enough to pay them to flush the system on the spot.

Bottom line, if there are no indications of transmission issues, just follow the maintenance schedule. If you are super concerned and really trust the shop have them show you the worn fluid (make sure you see them dip, wipe, dip) before anything is done. As was stated earlier, fluid color isn't the best indicator of life and unless it is in really rough shape (that almost always accompanies shifting issues, etc.) you won't notice a different 'smell' to it.
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