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Volvo 740 tranny oil change overdue? Uh-oh, CLUNK

Neither of us remembers ever getting a transmission oil change for our 1990 Volvo 740 GLE wagon (automatic, with 319,000 miles). When the nice man at the Ji%%y Lube said in January that the transmission oil was real dark, we couldn’t afford the $100 he quoted.



So this week when it made a loud CLUNK as I tried to reverse out of my driveway and didn’t move, we began to wonder if we’d done a bad, bad, thing.



I’ve had to put on 500 miles since then, carefully parking so I wouldn’t have to reverse. I’m planning on taking it into town to get the transmission oil changed in the next day or two.



Is there a chance that a transmission oil change can help at this point, or have we blown all chances of salvation?



We did have a new transmission about 8 years/160k ago. We’re wondering how to figure out at this point when we should bail out and get a new car instead of fixing this one more. It’s being held together with a little more duct tape than I’d prefer to be using, but finances are an issue, and our other car is showing serious problems too.



Yes, you are overdue. With 160k on this transmission, you should have had it serviced every 25-30k miles. If the fluid is contaminated then yes, I would get it flushed but ONLY AFTER they drop the pan, examine it for debris and change the filter. In other words, DO NOT take it back to the fast lube place. Take it only to a transmission shop. The fast lube place will not drop the pan and change the filter. They are looking to do the quickest service possible and get you out of there. Even if they did drop the pan, they probably would not know what to look for in it. In the future, service your transmission every 25-30k and you shouldnt have these worries so soon.

transman

   First, keep away from the quick change places.  We hear far too many horror stories about them.  Some may be fine, but many pay the help little, demand fast changes and that results in a high percentage of errors. Too many live by selling you something you don't need at inflated prices.  

Find a good local mechanic and stick with them for your needs.

Don't go to the quick lube places, even for directions. 

Yes, by any measure you are way late getting the fluid changed.  Changing it now is a good idea, but it may well be too late.  Frankly you did well getting that many miles on any automatic without a few fluid changes.   As transman (who by the way is the real authority on auto transmissions) you should have the fluid changed along with a new filter.

In addition to the good advice that you have already been given, I want to give you a suggestion regarding this car and all of your future vehicles. When I buy a car, I construct a small chart on which I can record all of the service procedures as they are done during the life of the car.

Vertically, on the left side, I list procedures such as oil & filter change, tire rotation, air filter change, fuel filter change, coolant change, transmission fluid change, front brake relined, rear brakes relined, timing belt replaced, etc. Horizontally, along the top, I have a space to record that odometer mileage and the date of each procedure.

Thus, anytime I want to figure out when I last had a particular service procedure performed, all I have to do is to take a look at my chart. Of course, I also retain all invoices in the same file folder that contains my service chart, but by maintaining the chart, I don’t have to look through all of the invoices in order to figure out if a certain service procedure is due.

All it takes is about 10 or 15 minutes initially, and then about 1 minute each time that the car is serviced, in order to have a clear, easily-read record of your car’s service record. This way, I perform service tasks on schedule and I don’t pay for having duplicate procedures done unnecessarily. Too often, people rely on their memories and wind up either skipping necessary procedures or they waste money by having the same service done prematurely, simply because memory is usually not foolproof.

All it takes is a commitment of a few minutes and a sense of organization for you to truly take charge of the service procedures that will lengthen the life of your vehicle, and this small commitment of time will pay huge dividends.

I don’t understand the comment about remembering. Don’t you keep your receipts for all service that’s done? If not, once you get your new car, you’d better start doing that or you could have problems getting repairs done under warranty.

That is precisely why I suggested constructing a chart to organize the service information, in addition to keeping all maintenance invoices. Over the space of 18 years, nobody could possibly remember when a particular service procedure was done, and having to go through 18 years of invoices every time you want to see when certain services were performed can be quite a chore.

That being said, I also believe that most people are incredibly disorganized and as a result, many people probably can’t locate maintenance invoices soon after having their cars serviced. By contructing and maintaining a chart of a car’s service records, and by keeping that chart and all of the invoices in one file folder, much can be accomplished–as long as one wants to commit a few minutes to the task.