How to check transmission fluid for color and when to change fluid ?
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    1. #1
      Junior Member
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      How to check transmission fluid for color and when to change fluid ?

      I have recently purchased a 2008 Volvo S80 3.2 (non-turbo) with 71k.

      I would like to understand more about the transmission fluid and it's current condition.

      Is there a transmission fluid dipstick that is accessible so I can check the color?

      And what are general recommendations for changing the fluid? Is that something I should have the dealer do based on the equipment to "flush" the transmission fluid?

      Appreciate any thoughts along these lines.

      Regards, RaleighMark

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    3. #2
      Junior Member Elfnmagik's Avatar
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      Well, it's best to do some research on the 3.2 related to the XC. The high points are that Volvo (and many other Mfgr's lately) considers it "lifetime" fluid requiring no changing and thereby no need to check level, so there is no dipstick. Most gearheads don't agree (myself included) and feel that changing it around 50k is a good idea. That said, the process designed by Volvo is tricky. It's two-part drain bolt/level plug. Removing both will drain about 3/4 capacity. It then has to be filled topside through a filler bolt directly on the trans. located below the breather box. The intention is to drain/replace bolt->fill from top->start & shift through gears->top off a bit more leaving a slightly overfill->install filler bolt->then remove drain bolt only and the excess will drain down to the level plug. After it comes to just a drop per couple seconds it's at the proper level. The only finicky part is that the fluid prior to draining needs to be within a certain temp range to ensure it's at the proper expansion thereby ensuring the correct level. Volvo runs diagnostic for this.

      Many here just drain it hot into a container with 1L increments measured and marked so that the exact amount can be added back. Let it cool, re-check the measured old fluid, then go topside and refill the exact amount with new fluid. Button everything up and run it for a week or so then do it again. After about 2-3 times it's pretty close "changed" completely, IMO.

    4. #3
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      Thanks for the reply. I think changing it is a good idea too. No dipstick is a little suprising to me, guess Volvo does not expect drivers to check the fluid color or level.
      With 71k on my Volvo already, I'm overdue for a change based on your 50k recommendation. Might you know if dealers have any "special equipment" that allows them to "flush" the fluid all at once?

      Thanks for the DYI instructions. The key part seems to be letting the hot fluid cool so that you can measure it's volume accurately and add in the same volume of new fluid.
      Again, thanks for you reply. I think you had replied on my previous thread as well.
      Appreciate it.

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    6. #4
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      If you want to quickly check the color of the fluid, you can disconnect the cooler hose on the radiator. It is the one right next to the driver side headlight. Not much fluid comes out, but enough for you to blot it on a paper towel and get an idea of the color of the fluid. I then noticed my fluid was a dark color, so I had mine flushed by the dealership at 56K miles. The car shifts more smoothly and quickly after the flush.
      2007 S80 V8 and 1998 S70 T5

    7. #5
      Moderator itwontstopsnowin's Avatar
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      This link shows the VIDA instructions regarding checking the fluid level of the Aisin 6 Speed Autometic transmission in the S80. http://www.pennantmotors.com/persona...fluidlevel.pdf

      The fact that there is no dip stick is certainly nothing new. Volvo was one of the last european car brands, if not THE last that provided a dip stick on their transmissions. Since most cars now have "sealed" transmissions with "lifetime" fluid, there is no need to check the fluid condition. Additionally, I don't think they want the end user messing with the fluid level since the units are quite sensitive to this.

      Regarding the whole "lifetime" fluid thing; I have read in several places that transmission manufacturers generally regard "lifetime" as meaning 100k miles. The transmissions are built to last that long with no maintenance at all. My S80 was serviced by the previous owner "by the book" by a Volvo dealership, so it never had the transmission fluid changed. The transmission was still behaving normally. As a matter of maintenance, I had my Volvo dealership change the fluid in my S80 last month, and over the course of the past month, I have noticed a marked improvement in the shift quality and the overall feel of the transmission. If I had owned the car since it was new, I would have changed the fluid every 50k miles.
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