What is the Best transmission fluid for Volvo's?

Help, Advice and DIY Tutorials on Volvo's extremely popular car line -- Volvo's 1990s "bread and butter" cars -- powered by the ubiquitous and durable Volvo inline 5-cylinder engine.
1992 - 1997 850, 850 R, 850 T5-R, 850 T5, 850 GLT
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Red-Arrow
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What is the Best transmission fluid for Volvo's?

Postby Red-Arrow » Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:34 pm

HI guys,

I have been confused by the sheer number of brands and ratings on the back of the bottles.

They all can't be the best as they claim so what is based on experience?

I just bought 3 quarts of CASTROL Import Multi-Vehicle Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF)

specs below

http://www.castrol.com/liveassets/bp_in ... portMV.pdf

its was pretty cheap at Walmart of all places. I thought I would do the half drain and fill method but a Volvo mechanic told me not to waste my money. He said its best to replace the oil all at once and replace that in a few months if I liked, but doing 50%, 75%, 87.5% was like Homeopathy.
Last edited by Red-Arrow on Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the Best transmission fluid for Volvo's?

Postby jblackburn » Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:43 pm

It says it'll work as a replacement for Dex-III, so I suppose you should be OK there.

You can try that if you want, but if you replace all of it at once, you risk screwing up your transmission, as they're not too happy if all the fluid is replaced at once if it has never been done before. People here have had that happen - especially if you don't know the service history of the car, you should err on the side of caution.

I just bought the cheapo Wal-Mart/Advance Auto Dex-III fluid, and drained it out 3 times over 2 months. Then I stepped up to a better fluid (Mobil-1) and did a COMPLETE 12-qt flush on it.
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Re: What is the Best transmission fluid for Volvo's?

Postby Red-Arrow » Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:56 pm

jablackburn wrote:It says it'll work as a replacement for Dex-III, so I suppose you should be OK there.


That is what I thought.


jablackburn wrote:You can try that if you want, but if you replace all of it at once, you risk screwing up your transmission, as they're not too happy if all the fluid is replaced at once if it has never been done before.


Why is that anyway?


jablackburn wrote:People here have had that happen - especially if you don't know the service history of the car, you should err on the side of caution.
The AT box was replaced only 3 years ago with a new one so it has 60K on it and one flush. I assume it was the full 6 quarts out .


jablackburn wrote:I just bought the cheapo Wal-Mart/Advance Auto Dex-III fluid, and drained it out 3 times over 2 months. Then I stepped up to a better fluid (Mobil-1) and did a COMPLETE 12-qt flush on it.


So your going drain 3 quarts each time? so thats like 4 changes and the last change being Mobil-1 ATF?

What will that cost?
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Re: What is the Best transmission fluid for Volvo's?

Postby jblackburn » Tue Oct 12, 2010 3:12 pm

The reasoning behind it is that gunk builds up around seals and the internals, and it's used to operating with it in there. Much the same way that swtiching to a synthetic and/or thinner engine oil *might* (and I'm sure I'll get flamed for this) cause your engine to leak MORE oil. By changing it out slowly a bit at a time, you can move the gunk out of it gradually and not all at once.

I will say that if it is that new and has been flushed before, you're probably perfectly OK to go ahead and do a full flush (using 9-12 qts of fluid).

I did the 3 drain and fills with Dex-III, and then for the last one I used about 6 quarts of Dex-III and pumped it all out through the cooler hose til it started coughing. Then replaced, and for the last 6 I used the Mobil fluid...flushed through 3 (mostly old fluid), and then added the last 3 1/2. In terms of cost, I think the Mobil stuff was $8/qt, whereas the gallon jug of Dex-III was about $10.

If your car is shifting perfectly fine (mine wasn't) you don't need to use an expensive synthetic fluid. It helped mine out immensely though.
'98 S70 T5
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Re: What is the Best transmission fluid for Volvo's?

Postby Red-Arrow » Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:16 pm

What is the official oil taken by the transmission? 6.8 quarts? is the dip stick an accurate guide as to whats in the box? I think the dip stick just has some lines on it on mines.
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Re: What is the Best transmission fluid for Volvo's?

Postby jblackburn » Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:41 pm

The sump itself holds between 3.5-4 quarts; the torque converter holds the rest, but you won't be able to get that out without mixing it with the other fluid.

The best way is to measure what comes out, then add that amount again. Mark off a milk jug and it works quite well.
Image

After that, you'll need to go drive around for 10 minutes, run the car through each gear - P, R, N, D - and back, while sitting in each for a few seconds, and then measure at the HOT mark on the dipstick & top off as necessary. The cold one's pretty much useless.
'98 S70 T5
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Re: What is the Best transmission fluid for Volvo's?

Postby Red-Arrow » Fri Oct 15, 2010 12:30 pm

Ok what your saying makes much more sense than what I had in my head. Are those yellow pliers circlip pliers in the picture above? Did you remove the lower or upper line on the transmission oil cooler to drain the oil? whats the benefit of doing this as opposed to draining from the sump?

Is that Mobil 1 pictured above synthetic gear oil?
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Re: What is the Best transmission fluid for Volvo's?

Postby jblackburn » Fri Oct 15, 2010 12:55 pm

They are - standard long needlenose pliers will work just fine to get the clip off the hose, though. You'll remove the upper line and attach a piece of transmission cooler hose to the port, then pump it out like that.

The Mobil is full synthetic transmission fluid. Some people say that it was pulled from shelves; I haven't checked recently. It helped make my car's transmission a lot smoother, but it's not necessary.

The advantage of using the cooler line is that it allows ALL of the fluid to circulate, instead of you just dumping out the pan and your new fluid again and again. The pump runs the fluid through the transmission internals AND torque converter, so that way when you add new fluid you're pumping the old stuff out. Some does mix, but it's the most efficient way to get all the old stuff out.

Have you seen this?
viewtopic.php?t=8767
'98 S70 T5
2012 Chevy Cruze LT 6MT


A learning experience is one of those things that says, "You know that thing you just did? Don't do that."

mercuic: Long live the tractor motor!

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Red-Arrow
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Re: What is the Best transmission fluid for Volvo's?

Postby Red-Arrow » Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:25 pm

Thanks for the link, very interesting thread. I was reading that even flushing using Dextron III is pointless as it dilutes the properties of DEX VI?

Its seems like people on the net are using Dex VI in place of Dex III so why are the Volvo owners using Dex III or equivalents still?

Dex VI is apparently backward compatible.
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Re: What is the Best transmission fluid for Volvo's?

Postby jblackburn » Sat Oct 16, 2010 1:29 pm

*shrug* it's cheap(er), and the cars were designed for III in the first place.

I can't speak for the others, but I've never tried the IV fluid myself.
'98 S70 T5
2012 Chevy Cruze LT 6MT


A learning experience is one of those things that says, "You know that thing you just did? Don't do that."

mercuic: Long live the tractor motor!


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