Again, Larry, I am not a mechanic-type person and don't change my own oil! I leave that to the experts...so of course I wouldn't really understand this method for checking transmission fluid. I still think it's sounds a bit complicated and from the comments I've read it seems like there is.
The reason the dipstick was eliminated on this model is that most people do not relaize the extent to which ATF density changes with temperature. If the dipstick were checked cold, and the ATF level topped up cold, the fluid would grow in volume (lose density) to the point that rotating elements would be immersed, leading to foaming and the potential for slippage as a result.
Even a substantial number of dealer technicians were not checking the dipstick with engine running at full operating temperature, as specified.
Warranty claims went DOWN with dipstick elimination.
The ATF recommendation at release was "fill for life" except for towing or extreme high temperature service.
Elizabeth M wrote: I'm not an auto geek by any stretch of the imagination but that has to be one of the most poorly designed ways to check a car's transmission fluid level if I've ever heard one!"
The differentials on all cars are checked this way--you fill lubricant through the port on the side until it runs back out. And surely, Elizabeth, you check this level every time you change your oil. Why is is surprising that you might check the transmission lubricant the same way, and at the same interval?
Now that cars can go 100K miles without anything more than oil changes it doesn't make much sense to design maintenance access for a system that is not servicable. The economics makes sense; Save $3 per car by not installing access to a system that should never need attention outside of a garage. Now multiply this mind-set by 4 or 5 systems in a car (brakes, cooling system, spare tire) and spread that over 2 or 3 million cars and pretty soon you have saved enough to buy your way out of bankrupcy.
Transmissions have become the weak link in car reliability. Engines typically last >200K, so now the trannmissions have to last longer, but they do not. There are numerous models wiht transmission problems. Honda Odessy,2000-2003; MDX, 2001-2004; Ford/Mazda- lots. GM in particular has been mentioned here- I find their engines are faily good, but all the ancillaries, especiall electicals, do not last. Even their "solid" 3.8 engine had faulty intake manifolds, 1998-2005 why could they not fix the design in 10 years?! Car manufacturers simply do not care about the consumer. "Build 'em fast, build 'em cheap, to heck with the consumer" seems to be their mottos.
Don't consider this a purely domestic situation. Many of the Daimler Benz transmissions are sealed. In fact at Chrysler corp the transmissions first were sealed, no dipstick and filler, while Daimler owned them. I don't know if this was to prevent medling or simply that they expected the transmission to go high miles without maintance.
As some readers have pointed out, are not designed for maintenance, which can be infuriating at times.
I was told by a car buf once that the car companies aren't interested in designing cars that are easy to work on because they make MORE money when you bring the car to the dealership for repairs. Anyone who has taken their car to a dealer for a repair knows that the experience is more like being taken to the cleaners!
It's a shame that a country that put men on the moon, can't (or won't design cars that are easier to repair.
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