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I just hit 20K miles about a few days ago. In my old car, I always got a tranny flush every 24K miles and I will say, it definitely made a difference in smoothness.

I know these cars have sealed transmissions with fluid stated to last the lifetime of the car, but I kind of don't feel comfortable with this.

Is it possible to change fluid? Should I be worrying about this? Any input would be great.

Thanks!
J
 

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I read somewhere (here perhaps) that the units aren't really sealed, changing the fluid is possible. 20K might be overly cautious, but as long as you use whatever fancy fluid Mazda put in there you should be fine. I'd be cautious about having a shop do it since Mazda's are rare and they might not have the exact right stuff.

I also think it depends on how long you want to keep this particular car. 'Lifetime' fluids refer to the design life of the car. This involves the car's warranty, how long the first owner will typically keep it, etc. They aren't necessarily thinking about the person who owns a car for a decade when they specify 'lifetime'.

This thread might be helpful: http://mazda3revolution.com/forums/...ctiv-how-guides/16874-atf-fluid-checking.html
 

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I just hit 20K miles about a few days ago. In my old car, I always got a tranny flush every 24K miles and I will say, it definitely made a difference in smoothness.

I know these cars have sealed transmissions with fluid stated to last the lifetime of the car, but I kind of don't feel comfortable with this.

Is it possible to change fluid? Should I be worrying about this? Any input would be great.

Thanks!
J
Modern transmission flushes are done by a machine that sucks the fluid up from the dipstick. You don't need to get under the car anymore. People tend to change the fluids in a car far too often. If you follow the manufacturer's guidelines, you're probably still changing it twice as much as necessary. If a manufacturer recommends "lifetime", I would not change it before about 60,000 miles.
 

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Doesn't hurt to change out the fluid, and if that gives you peace of mind, go for it. Make sure to use the Mazda "ATF AZ" fluid - the blue color fluid.

When you remove the plastic undercover, there is a dipstick with bolt on it as well as a drain plug. Minor inconvenience is to determine the right ATF fluid level since the ATF temperature is supposed to be at 50C ( 122 F) when you check the level using the dip stick. Dealer techs have Mazda diagnostic tool to read off the transmission fluid temperature but your generic ODB-II reader won't give you that. A workaround is to measure what you drain and fill exactly what you drained. This is assuming that the original level was within the acceptable limit.

Life-time fluid in my mind means it lasts only until the warranty ends !

And you should replace the crush gasket that goes with the drain plug.
 

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these transmission are designed for drain and fill, flushing with a machine could damage it when you try to move it again
I've heard the pros and cons before, but never on a Mazda. I checked the service manual and another source. You are certainly right. Thanks for correcting me. However, if you drive normally, why would you want to change it at less than 60,000 miles? Mazda doesn't even recommend changing it at all. The fluid obviously doesn't degrade quickly. Why would they recommend something that would hurt the car and bring their service people less money?
 

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I've heard the pros and cons before, but never on a Mazda. I checked the service manual and another source. You are certainly right. Thanks for correcting me. However, if you drive normally, why would you want to change it at less than 60,000 miles? Mazda doesn't even recommend changing it at all. The fluid obviously doesn't degrade quickly. Why would they recommend something that would hurt the car and bring their service people less money?
Lifetime fluids make the cost of ownership amount lower. Its part marketing to be more competitive. Like the other guy was saying, lifetime is good until the warranty is done.. or the part fails and ends its life lol.
 

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Lifetime fluids make the cost of ownership amount lower. Its part marketing to be more competitive. Like the other guy was saying, lifetime is good until the warranty is done.. or the part fails and ends its life lol.
When I read what experts say about this, they recommend NOT changing the fluid in cars that were designed with "lifetime" fluid. First of all, they say the fluid is different than in the past and does not break down. Secondly, they say that as the transmission wears, the discs wear slightly and changing the fluid can cause more damage than not as it will cause slippage. Third, they say that today's automatic transmissions are built a lot better than in the past.

Years ago, you needed to change your transmission fluid and filter every 30K miles. Then it was every 60K miles. Now there is no filter and they say you can go 200K miles. While there may be no warranty after a time, Mazda can still be sued for saying "lifetime" and then have that cause problems. Thus I don't think it is just for marketing purposes. I think they now believe that your transmission will wear out sooner than it will need new fluid.

If there is something I've learned in the 55+ years that I've owned and maintained cars, it is that you should always do research because things always change.
 

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When I read what experts say about this, they recommend NOT changing the fluid in cars that were designed with "lifetime" fluid. First of all, they say the fluid is different than in the past and does not break down. Secondly, they say that as the transmission wears, the discs wear slightly and changing the fluid can cause more damage than not as it will cause slippage. Third, they say that today's automatic transmissions are built a lot better than in the past.

Years ago, you needed to change your transmission fluid and filter every 30K miles. Then it was every 60K miles. Now there is no filter and they say you can go 200K miles. While there may be no warranty after a time, Mazda can still be sued for saying "lifetime" and then have that cause problems. Thus I don't think it is just for marketing purposes. I think they now believe that your transmission will wear out sooner than it will need new fluid.

If there is something I've learned in the 55+ years that I've owned and maintained cars, it is that you should always do research because things always change.
All valid points, however I'm not about to place the performance of my trans on a comment saying an oil will not degrade lol. Thats just nonsense it will change viscosity.
 

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All valid points, however I'm not about to place the performance of my trans on a comment saying an oil will not degrade lol. Thats just nonsense it will change viscosity.
It isn't a comment, it's from experts in the field and companies like BMW who have done this for a decade now. Engine oil used to only last 3K miles and now synthetics easily last 15K miles even though manufacturers recommend 7.5-10K miles now. (We know that from oil analysis tests). SRI's and tuning used to make a big difference, now that difference is very small. I even remember when I changed points and condenser fairly often. Spark plugs now last 100K miles.

I'm into science and analysis rather than old information. Manufacturer's have a vested interest in not being sued so if they say "lifetime", there must even be a safety factor in that. In some of the BMW forums (I used to own BMW's), this subject comes up often and the company warns that changing the transmission fluid can cause more damage than keeping it in.

I find it interesting how often these kinds of things change as technology and engineering advances. My recommendation is to listen to the manufacturer on maintenance stuff like this as it is in there best interest not to get sued and to bring service revenue to their dealers.
 

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When I read what experts say about this, they recommend NOT changing the fluid in cars that were designed with "lifetime" fluid. First of all, they say the fluid is different than in the past and does not break down. Secondly, they say that as the transmission wears, the discs wear slightly and changing the fluid can cause more damage than not as it will cause slippage. Third, they say that today's automatic transmissions are built a lot better than in the past.

Years ago, you needed to change your transmission fluid and filter every 30K miles. Then it was every 60K miles. Now there is no filter and they say you can go 200K miles. While there may be no warranty after a time, Mazda can still be sued for saying "lifetime" and then have that cause problems. Thus I don't think it is just for marketing purposes. I think they now believe that your transmission will wear out sooner than it will need new fluid.

If there is something I've learned in the 55+ years that I've owned and maintained cars, it is that you should always do research because things always change.
BMW's used car prices started a downhill slide after they switched to that lifetime transmission crap etc. There are hundreds of guys on the BMW forums that found metal Shavings in the transmission fluid after 20k.

Plus, the guys who changed their BMW fluid on a regular cycle rather than factory ended up with little to no problems while the guys some of them being friends of mine changed on the factory schedule ended up with 10-12k worth of repairs pretty quickly after the warranty went out. Looks up the Transmission problems on BMW's. Look up the previous Mazda3 transmission problems.

Mini Coopers Misrepresent 'Lifetime' Transmission Fluid, Lawsuit Claims - ABC News
Lifetime Transmission Fluid - Do Not Believe the Hype | Columbia & Lexington Automotive Repair Center
BMW and Volvo - The Truth About Lifetime Transmission Fluids - Atlantic Motor Car

And, even in the case of BMW. They say the fluid is more expensive than transmissions and all that blah blah blah. The truth is however, over the years, there have been at least 4 different types of ATF specified by BMW to be used as Lifetime ATF. What's interesting is, only ONE out of the FOUR of these ATF is actually expensive. Two of the FOUR are about the same price as a boutique ATF like Redline D4 ATF (approx $8-$9/qt), and the VERY FIRST Lifetime ATF that BMW specified was nothing more than a high quality Dexron III(D). The very first BMW specified ATF that was specified as Lifetime was in fact no different than the ATF that was specified prior to this Lifetime ATF specification in 9/1995.

The ATF fluid that is truly expensive, is the ESSO one used in ZF auto transmissions. It can cost around $22/qt. However, in my research, I believe there may be cheaper alternatives that meet the same ATF specification as the BMW specified ESSO fluid. There is also a VW alternative that meets the same specifications and is about half the price @ $12/qt. There are even cheaper alternatives too.

Most indy shops and dealership quote the price they would charge if they used the ESSO fluid. I've called several dealerships and indy shops in southern california.

So yes, swapping out the fluid is recommended. I recommend using Amsoil's fluid as I've yet to have a vehicle go bad using that and the fluid has fixed what I and the mechanic thought we would be replacing in 3k-10k is still going strong 110k later. Trick is that you will need to flush the fluid via a drain, fill, run, drain, fill process 3 times to completely remove the old fluid then do a drain fill every 40k.

Personally, I got one of those 125k warranties with the full expectation that my transmission will fail in 5 years or less due to Mazda's crap life-time fluid decision and then I'll make the swap over to better fluids. It's already getting a little bit of slip in first and second after 20k when it's warm.
 

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@chris_top_her

From your quoted articles:

"..for it seems to us that almost all of the fluids need service between 80-100K miles"

"Gutierrez pointed out that repairing a transmission can be very expensive, so drivers should stick to whatever the manufacturer recommends, but, "Even if they say lifetime, we do recommend at least every 100,000 miles or so."

That's why I initially recommended 60K miles to be on the safe side at the beginning of this thread. And the problem with BMW transmissions was mostly not the fluid. On one of my bimmers the transmission went after 5K miles. Besides, if you pull a trailer or drive your car hard, they do recommend a change of fluid at 45K. Doing it before 60K miles is just a waste of money. I used to keep my cars for 10-15 years, but now that I'm older, I'm not doing as much maintenance and I'll only keep them 4-5 years max. So for me, it's a lifetime for the car and perhaps for my lifetime as well.
 
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