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Transmission refill or not

This isn’t really my question, but a question my friend has. He drives a 2002 Jeep Wrangler 2.5L with the 3-speed automatic transmission. It currently has around 140,xxx miles on it. He checked his transmission fluid, and its brownish and somewhat burnt smelling, however the transmission runs and shifts smoothly without slipping or hesitation or any other problems. He is torn weather or not to replace the fluid. I don’t believe he is going to completely flush out the system, but he is planning on draining and refilling it. After doing some research, he and I have both found horror stories of people getting a transmission fluid service done, and the car never leaving the shop because the process of changing the fluid loosens dirt and debris, and clogs holes and passages in the transmission rendering it useless. What are your thoughts? Should he change the fluid, or not?



The horror stories are generally related to a flush, not a pan drop and refill. He should change the filter also when he does this service. It will probably get less than 50% of the old fluid out, but it will replenish the ATF additives. More frequent drains and fills will continue to help get out the old fluid. The consequence of not doing ATF drain and fills will be what killed the trans, not this single service.

Change fluid & filter. Drive it a while, then change it again. Change it every 30,000 miles or whatever milage the owner’s manual says.

I agree with the previous answers. Leaving this burnt fluid in the transmission will just shorten it’s life.

The horror stories are from people who wait until they have a problem before they bother having the fluid changed, then try to blame trans failure on that. Make sure your friend knows to use the RIGHT transmission fluid for his Chrysler transmission.

If this really has a 3 speed automatic it should have bands to adjust also.

Thanks everyone. I’ll let him know. His plan was to have the fluid drained, and refilled several times throughout the year to swap out old for new, he was just worried that doing so might damage his transmission. Thanks again!

It often does happen that the transmission will fail shortly after changing or flushing the fluid. Then everyone immediately blames the fluid change. In real life the problem was not changing the fluid 100,000 miles earlier before the transmission was damaged due to the lack of a fluid change BEFORE it damaged the transmission.

It was simply too late to help. Change the fluid now. I don’t know what condition your transmission is in now but changing the fluid will not hurt it and it might keep it alive for a long time.

Those horror stories are just that; old wives tales from people who know nothing about transmissions.

The big issue is that the fluid is brown in color and has a burnt smell. This is caused by friction material contaminating the fluid and the burnt smell is probably caused by slippage to some degree.

Yes the fluid should be changed. However, if the transmission decides to go belly-up a month, 6 months, or a year after changing the fluid do not blame the fluid change for this.
Blame it on not changing the fluid/filter every 25-30k miles.