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Learned the Hard Way: 1999+ Volvos Require Special Transmission Fluid

volvo transmission resize - Learned the Hard Way: 1999+ Volvos Require Special Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid in Volvo: Always research before bringing your Volvo in for transmission fluid changes, tune-ups, or repair.

MVS Volvo Forums member sarawgi kicks off a great discussion on knowing your car’s needs before taking it to the shop. Even when you think you’ve found a mechanic you can truly trust, you should really take it upon yourself to know what is really best for your vehicle. In some cases, it’s as easy as referring to your owner’s manual.

Sarawgi learned this the hard way, asking the forum:

“My 1999 S-70 AWD auto transmission …orange arrow flashes and the car’s RPM zooms up if I try to go above 45 miles/hr.

Dealer says that the transmission is faulty needs replacement. I had fluid change at 70K miles (currently at 90K) by a local reputable transmission shop. Dealer says that the fluid used was wrong (normal ATF Dextron III) and caused the failure.”

Thankfully, our knowledgeable forum members are able to help him out!

Here’s forum member White850Turbo’s unfortunate advice:

In this case, your dealer is right and the transmission shop needs to fess up and do what’s right. Starting in 1999, the clutch materials in the Aisin Warner tranny used in the S70’s were changed.

For proper operation, they require a special type of fluid with proprietary friction modifiers, which can only be found in Mobil type 3309 fluid or the Volvo fluid made for the car, which will run you $18/quart. Normal Dexron III / Mercon fluid will lead to transmission failure. The special type of fluid is supplied in these cars from the factory and should be the only fluid ever run in them. The dealer is right about the service bulletin also. The transmission shop should’ve used the Type 3309 fluid. They are giving you the run-around and doctoring Volvo’s service bulletin.

It’s not all bad news though. Fellow forum user davvver follows up with a related question:

I would like to drain/fill the ATF in my 98 volvo V70 NA (naturally aspirated). I don’t want to do a complete flush since the oil is still clean and does not smell burnt. Do I need to use Dexron III since I am not flushing all the oil out or can I use Mobil 1 syn ATF for a 50/50 mix until i drain/fill it again? I assume if I were to use Mobil 3309 (which my tundra takes) I would have to do a complete flush?

Thanks in advance for the advice!

Looking for more information on transmission fluid and changes? Take a look at the full forum post (blue box below), where we’ve got multiple pages of intriguing discussion!

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1999+ Transmission Fluid Caveat

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