Transmission Fluid

So “they” tell me that my transmission fluid is dark and burnt and so it needs changed. However, I have heard that you do not change the fluid just refill if it is low so the car is used to it. I have a Dodge Sport minivan which is known for its temperamental transmission. What should I do?

You have been told wrong.
Get all of the fluid changed (flush) and the filter changed (pan drop).
Be aware, however, that damage has already been done. If the transmission still fails afterward, it won’t be because you changed the fluid now. It will be because you didn’t change the fluid back when you were supposed to.

Be sure to use genuine chrysler trans fluid (ATF+4?). Your transmission is very picky about the fluid you use in it.

Has the fluid been changed according to the maintenance schedule? When is the last time it was changed?

I think that we already know the probable answer to that question.

As mentioned the fluid is dark because of lack of maintenance. Change it with ATF+4, if it shifts funny after that you might need the quick relearn procedure by the dealer. But also remember that the transmission might be done due to lack of proper maintenance.

This is likely the scenario that we hear about all the time, namely drivers who ignore maintenance of the transmission for the first 90,000 miles, and then when it begins to fail, they want to know if the old wives’ tale that says “You will kill a failing transmission if you change the fluid” is valid.

In almost every case, the transmission will fail shortly after that long-delayed fluid change, but then again, it would have failed anyway, simply because the owner did not change the fluid every 30k, as specified in the maintenance schedule that is sitting (in the original cellophane wrapper) in the glove box.

When will they ever learn???

I bought the mini van used at 98,000 miles so I do not know the maintenance before hand. My first car I always did the scheduled maintenance on it and was in very good condition and then someone hit me and totaled my car. This is my first experience with a used car and I am learning fast. Thanks for all the input.

I want to learn that is why I am asking. Too bad they don’t have car repair 101 in college or high school. I have to learn through the school of hard knocks and from great people like you who will answer questions from the ignorant.

I do not know. I bought the van used at 98000 miles. I am guessing never.