Hot and Cold marks on the transmission fluid dipstick
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    1. #1

      Hot and Cold marks on the transmission fluid dipstick

      I changed out the transmission fluid on my 2002 S60. There is a "Hot" level and below that there is a "Cold" level. I filled the transmission to the "Cold" level and went for a drive. The transmission was shifting terribly. When I checked the fluid, the dipstick showed no fluid. So I filled to the "Cold" mark again and the transmission shifted better. Once the car warmed up, I filled to the "Hot" level, which is above the "Cold" mark. The transmission was shifting terribly again. I left the car overnight expecting the transmission fluid to go down to the "Cold" mark after the car cooled down but instead, the transmission fluid went way over the "Hot" mark and goes back to the "Hot" mark when the car warms up. I used a 100ml syringe and fish tank tube from Walmart to siphon the fluid out back to "Cold" mark once the car was warmed and the transmission shifted very well with little bumps when down shifting. I kept playing with the fluid level by adding and replacing fluid a little at a time until I got to a level where the transmission shifted very well with no issues. That lasted until I changed out the radiator and lost some fluid removing the transmission lines. I have not reset the adaptions using VIDA as I still need to figure out how to install VIDA onto my laptop. I bought a cheap Ebay OBDII plug and it came with software for Honda, Toyota, and Volvo. Honda and Toyota were straight forward, but VIDA has about 30 files and the instructions aren't clear. I wonder if I have the wrong dipstick as the "Cold" and "Hot" marks do not line up. On my 2005 Honda Pilot, the fluid level goes down when warm and so did my 2004 Volvo XC90. Can someone tell me if their fluid level goes down when warm and whether their "Cold" mark is above their "Hot" mark?

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    3. #2
      Member T501's Avatar
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      Sounds like you have the right dipstick to me. Getting the fluid level just right is tricky in these cars. It's best to keep track of how much you take out/lose and put the same amount back. Too late for that now, I know. When you get VIDA hooked up you can go by the temperature of the trans fluid and this chart:



      Note: IIRC there's only about 1/5th of a liter of tolerance either way on the trans fluid. Also these cars like 3309, if you put something "compatible" in instead, that may be part of the problem.

      Do NOT reset the TCM adaptive parameters! That is only for replacing trans hardware or the entire trans. You will almost guarantee bigger problems if you do. You can however, reset the trans fluid counter.
      Last edited by T501; 03-20-2017 at 01:13 PM.
      David - '01 S60 T5 GT 178K+ miles OWNED SINCE DAY ONE - Bilstein Sport + TME, ipd sway bar + endlinks, UR chassis braces (upper F+R), Powerslot /Akebono pads, Snabb Intake, HD coils, iMIV Original engine, transmission replaced at 79k miles
      Wife -'13 C30 T5 R-Design Dad - '98 S70 T5 160K + miles, Bilstein TCs, IPD HD rear springs, SAS delete Mom -'10 S80 V8 Executive Sis - '02 S80 T6 Backup car -'13 S60 T5

    4. #3
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      You hit the nail square on the head there, T501!! Thank you for that super helpful chart as well! I always assumed that the max hot line is where it'll always be when everything up to operating temp, but of course especially with the trans, operating temp is a subjective term. If I remember correctly, the difference between the min and max lines is 1/2 quart, is that correct? Resetting the fluid counter when changing any of the ATF is definitely a good idea. Unfortunately VIDA/DiCE is required to do so. I just change out ALL of my fluid recently, and just reset the counter as well.
      2004 S60 2.5T - Stock for now...

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    6. #4
      Member T501's Avatar
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      I honestly don't think resetting the fluid counter does much. The trans adapts to the new fluid regardless. Since the trans fluid counter just counts how many times your trans hits a specified temp (circa 260 F IIRC) it may be nothing more than a glorified service indicator. So to me, reset it if you can, if not no biggie.

      If the TCM actually used the counter data to affect shifting or line pressure then it would be more of a necessity but I would guess all that data comes from the adaptive parameters software.
      David - '01 S60 T5 GT 178K+ miles OWNED SINCE DAY ONE - Bilstein Sport + TME, ipd sway bar + endlinks, UR chassis braces (upper F+R), Powerslot /Akebono pads, Snabb Intake, HD coils, iMIV Original engine, transmission replaced at 79k miles
      Wife -'13 C30 T5 R-Design Dad - '98 S70 T5 160K + miles, Bilstein TCs, IPD HD rear springs, SAS delete Mom -'10 S80 V8 Executive Sis - '02 S80 T6 Backup car -'13 S60 T5

    7. #5
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      Quote Originally Posted by T501 View Post
      I honestly don't think resetting the fluid counter does much. The trans adapts to the new fluid regardless. Since the trans fluid counter just counts how many times your trans hits a specified temp (circa 260 F IIRC) it may be nothing more than a glorified service indicator. So to me, reset it if you can, if not no biggie.

      If the TCM actually used the counter data to affect shifting or line pressure then it would be more of a necessity but I would guess all that data comes from the adaptive parameters software.
      I think you are right on that. When I recently changed my fluid (went through an entire case of 12 quarts in one sitting) some advised me to DO the adaption reset, and others told me not to. I'm thinking me not doing so was the right choice here since it was only just a fluid change.
      2004 S60 2.5T - Stock for now...

    8. #6
      Member T501's Avatar
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      Resetting adaptives for just a fluid change is a definite no-no. That's not what that reset is for. It doesn't tell the the TCM it's got new fluid, it tells the TCM, it has a new trans and/or valve body and to start "learning" all over again. Doing that with a well worn trans is risky at best. A fellow SS member's car was left undriveable after resetting adaptives after only a fluid change.
      David - '01 S60 T5 GT 178K+ miles OWNED SINCE DAY ONE - Bilstein Sport + TME, ipd sway bar + endlinks, UR chassis braces (upper F+R), Powerslot /Akebono pads, Snabb Intake, HD coils, iMIV Original engine, transmission replaced at 79k miles
      Wife -'13 C30 T5 R-Design Dad - '98 S70 T5 160K + miles, Bilstein TCs, IPD HD rear springs, SAS delete Mom -'10 S80 V8 Executive Sis - '02 S80 T6 Backup car -'13 S60 T5

    9. #7
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      a couple tidbits:

      The hot mark needs to be measured while the engine is running.
      It takes so long for the trans fluid to get to hot that Volvo considers hot to only have occurred after at least 30 minutes at highway speeds with ambient air temperature above 15 degrees Celsius. Anything less and your fluid is still only lukewarm
      Last edited by ss60; 03-20-2017 at 11:06 AM.
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      What about measuring immediately after shutting off the engine, say within 30 seconds of?
      2004 S60 2.5T - Stock for now...

    11. #9
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      Quote Originally Posted by Phixion View Post
      What about measuring immediately after shutting off the engine, say within 30 seconds of?
      Transmission fluid should always be checked with the engine running but that's not to say that you won't get the same reading in that situation. I would still confirm it while running.
      David - '01 S60 T5 GT 178K+ miles OWNED SINCE DAY ONE - Bilstein Sport + TME, ipd sway bar + endlinks, UR chassis braces (upper F+R), Powerslot /Akebono pads, Snabb Intake, HD coils, iMIV Original engine, transmission replaced at 79k miles
      Wife -'13 C30 T5 R-Design Dad - '98 S70 T5 160K + miles, Bilstein TCs, IPD HD rear springs, SAS delete Mom -'10 S80 V8 Executive Sis - '02 S80 T6 Backup car -'13 S60 T5

    12. #10
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      Oh and according to the trans dipstick in my s60 the difference between min and max is only 0.2 of a liter. That's pretty tight tolerances!
      David - '01 S60 T5 GT 178K+ miles OWNED SINCE DAY ONE - Bilstein Sport + TME, ipd sway bar + endlinks, UR chassis braces (upper F+R), Powerslot /Akebono pads, Snabb Intake, HD coils, iMIV Original engine, transmission replaced at 79k miles
      Wife -'13 C30 T5 R-Design Dad - '98 S70 T5 160K + miles, Bilstein TCs, IPD HD rear springs, SAS delete Mom -'10 S80 V8 Executive Sis - '02 S80 T6 Backup car -'13 S60 T5

    13. #11
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      Quote Originally Posted by T501 View Post
      Oh and according to the trans dipstick in my s60 the difference between min and max is only 0.2 of a liter. That's pretty tight tolerances!
      This I remember, that the tolerance is very minimal for the trans fluid.
      2004 S60 2.5T - Stock for now...

    14. #12
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      Quote Originally Posted by Phixion View Post
      What about measuring immediately after shutting off the engine, say within 30 seconds of?
      All the moving parts are on the other end of the engine, so checking the fluid while running is not too challenging. The hardest part is getting your hand squeezed down to the yellow trans dipstick.

      Use a clean lint free rag when you wipe the dipstick, you don't want any debris in your trans fluid.
      iPD tune / Bilstein HD /25mm sways / Heico dual exhaust / OE sport body kit / HID Projectors / VST strut brace / EU power folding mirror kit / iMIV / Volvotech CFE / etc.

    15. #13
      Member LloydDobler's Avatar
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      Yeah I remember learning that "cold" on the trans dipstick is actually hot to the touch, and "hot" is "will instantly burn you because you've been driving really hard". They're not cold and hot like you normally think.
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      Quote Originally Posted by ss60 View Post
      All the moving parts are on the other end of the engine, so checking the fluid while running is not too challenging. The hardest part is getting your hand squeezed down to the yellow trans dipstick.

      Use a clean lint free rag when you wipe the dipstick, you don't want any debris in your trans fluid.
      That I know. I've somewhat solved the dipstick issue by using a long reach flexible parts grabber tool to grab onto the top of the dipstick while using my other hand to bend around to release the metal clip holding it in place. Then just pull it out easy peasy. They sure put it in a spot to really discourage most people from messing with the tranny.
      2004 S60 2.5T - Stock for now...

    17. #15
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      Quote Originally Posted by Phixion View Post
      That I know. I've somewhat solved the dipstick issue by using a long reach flexible parts grabber tool to grab onto the top of the dipstick while using my other hand to bend around to release the metal clip holding it in place. Then just pull it out easy peasy. They sure put it in a spot to really discourage most people from messing with the tranny.
      You are removing the intake snorkel right? With that out of the way, it's pretty easy to get to the dipstick by hand.
      David - '01 S60 T5 GT 178K+ miles OWNED SINCE DAY ONE - Bilstein Sport + TME, ipd sway bar + endlinks, UR chassis braces (upper F+R), Powerslot /Akebono pads, Snabb Intake, HD coils, iMIV Original engine, transmission replaced at 79k miles
      Wife -'13 C30 T5 R-Design Dad - '98 S70 T5 160K + miles, Bilstein TCs, IPD HD rear springs, SAS delete Mom -'10 S80 V8 Executive Sis - '02 S80 T6 Backup car -'13 S60 T5

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      Nope, not needing to move anything out of the way fortunately. For just checking, I don't see the need to remove it with the way I've found the get the dipstick out and back in. If doing work, for sure I remove the snorkel. Actually even when I did my recent ATF fluid exchange, I didn't remove anything other than the dipstick of course, to get the funnel I used in place to replenish the pumped out fluid. It is indeed real easy to access the dipstick with the snorkel removed though.
      2004 S60 2.5T - Stock for now...

    19. #17
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      Quote Originally Posted by Phixion View Post
      Nope, not needing to move anything out of the way fortunately. For just checking, I don't see the need to remove it with the way I've found the get the dipstick out and back in. If doing work, for sure I remove the snorkel. Actually even when I did my recent ATF fluid exchange, I didn't remove anything other than the dipstick of course, to get the funnel I used in place to replenish the pumped out fluid. It is indeed real easy to access the dipstick with the snorkel removed though.
      Even for checking I always remove the snorkel since it just pops on and off by hand. It makes getting to the dipstick a breeze. Leaving it in and trying to get to the dipstick is torture.
      David - '01 S60 T5 GT 178K+ miles OWNED SINCE DAY ONE - Bilstein Sport + TME, ipd sway bar + endlinks, UR chassis braces (upper F+R), Powerslot /Akebono pads, Snabb Intake, HD coils, iMIV Original engine, transmission replaced at 79k miles
      Wife -'13 C30 T5 R-Design Dad - '98 S70 T5 160K + miles, Bilstein TCs, IPD HD rear springs, SAS delete Mom -'10 S80 V8 Executive Sis - '02 S80 T6 Backup car -'13 S60 T5

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      I'll try the snorkel removal way. I mean you won't always have a grabber claw tool with you when away from your garage...

      This is what I'm referring to that I have and use to pull my trans dipstick...
      2004 S60 2.5T - Stock for now...

    21. #19
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      Quote Originally Posted by Phixion View Post
      I'll try the snorkel removal way. I mean you won't always have a grabber claw tool with you when away from your garage...

      This is what I'm referring to that I have and use to pull my trans dipstick...
      Using that seems a lot trickier than just popping the snorkel off.
      David - '01 S60 T5 GT 178K+ miles OWNED SINCE DAY ONE - Bilstein Sport + TME, ipd sway bar + endlinks, UR chassis braces (upper F+R), Powerslot /Akebono pads, Snabb Intake, HD coils, iMIV Original engine, transmission replaced at 79k miles
      Wife -'13 C30 T5 R-Design Dad - '98 S70 T5 160K + miles, Bilstein TCs, IPD HD rear springs, SAS delete Mom -'10 S80 V8 Executive Sis - '02 S80 T6 Backup car -'13 S60 T5

    22. #20
      I figured it out. When the car is left overnight, fluid from the torque converter drops into the bottom of the transmission and registers a very high level on the dipstick. So I started the car, ran through all the gears, filled to the cold mark, and drove the car around. I then filled to the hot mark and now the car drives great. I also used Valvoline Maxlife. The reason for this is because it costs $18/gallon and is easy to get. I use it in all of my vehicles: Honda Pilot, BMW 325i, and Volvo S60. I also use it in my friend's Honda Civic and Infiniti G35.

    23. #21
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      Glad you got it driving well again!
      David - '01 S60 T5 GT 178K+ miles OWNED SINCE DAY ONE - Bilstein Sport + TME, ipd sway bar + endlinks, UR chassis braces (upper F+R), Powerslot /Akebono pads, Snabb Intake, HD coils, iMIV Original engine, transmission replaced at 79k miles
      Wife -'13 C30 T5 R-Design Dad - '98 S70 T5 160K + miles, Bilstein TCs, IPD HD rear springs, SAS delete Mom -'10 S80 V8 Executive Sis - '02 S80 T6 Backup car -'13 S60 T5

    24. #22
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      Quote Originally Posted by T501 View Post
      Glad you got it driving well again!
      Ditto! All the more reason to check the fluid level while hot and engine running as others here have mentioned. Makes sense as fluid will probably begin moving around to the lowest points and such once the engine is off.

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    25. #23
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      Checked as hot while running, and it's right at the level it should be.

      Sent from my HTC One_M8 using Tapatalk
      2004 S60 2.5T - Stock for now...

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