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ENGINE FLUIDS MAINTENANCE SAVES CUSTOMERS WEAR, TEAR AND MONEY.
Engine fluid maintenance involves checking, inspecting and replacing, as necessary, several different fluids. These fluids include the engine oil, coolant and transmission fluid. Not only are there specific maintenance intervals for each of these fluids, but there are specific types of fluids to be used for each application. For example, the transmission fluid used in the late model 8- and 9-speed designs is different than what’s used in the older 5- and 6-speed units. A review of scheduled maintenance tasks and specific fluid requirements will be the focus of this Repair Boost article.
Everyone knows that engine oil is the lifeblood of an automotive engine. Without it, the engine would quickly overheat and seize up from lack of lubrication. The result is a new engine, plain and simple. But, the role of engine oil shouldn’t be dismissed. Checking the oil level should be done once a month or so and the oil, and oil filter, should be changed at the recommended interval. Typically, this is 5000 miles, or 7500 miles if using synthetic oil.
The type of oil to use is a bit simpler than the decision of other fluid choices. The most important specification for this decision is the viscosity grade. This is the measure of the thickness and ability of the oil to flow at certain temperatures . Typical grades are 5W-20, 10W-30 and the like.
Due to advanced engine technology, most newer vehicles now require Synthetic Blend or Semi-Synthetic oil. Refer to the engine oil cap or owner’s manual to verify the engine’s requirements. Also, to ensure proper engine protection, always use a quality oil filter at every oil change.
Note: Diesel engines require special blends that are formulated to provide a higher level of protection against soot-related viscosity increase and viscosity loss due to shear; be sure to use oils specifically blended for diesel engines.
Automatic transmissions use a fluid with special viscous properties that allow it to transmit energy from one rotating component (the engine flywheel) to another (converter impeller) in the torque converter. Due to the nature of this fluid, several different types are used depending on the design of the transmission.
Transmission fluid does not have to be changed nearly as often as engine oil, but that doesn’t mean that it can be ignored. In order for an automatic transmission or transaxle to operate properly, the amount of fluid must be at the correct level and the fluid condition must be good. Low fluid levels can cause a variety of adverse conditions because it allows the pump to take in air along with the fluid. As in any hydraulic system, air bubbles make the fluid spongy; therefore, pressures will be low and build up slowly. This condition can hinder the performance of the transmission.
When checking the fluid level, check the condition of the fluid. If it smells burned and is contaminated with metal or friction material particles, a complete transaxle recondition is probably required. Be sure to examine the fluid on the dipstick closely. If there is any doubt about its condition, drain out a sample for a double check.
There are several types of transmission fluid, each with unique properties, applications and service lives. The 62TE is the basic 6 speed transmission in the FCA US LLC lineup and it requires ATF+4. transmission fluid. Before that transmission was introduced, the 41TE was the standard. It used ATF+4., too (see Figure 2). Note: The 6F24 transmission used in the Dart/Compass/Patriot uses a special fluid that is not compatible with ATF+4® or any other tranny fluid.
ATF+4. is red in color. It is dyed red so it can be identified from other fluids used in the vehicle such as engine oil or antifreeze. The red color is not permanent and is not an indicator of fluid condition. ATF+4. also has a unique odor that may change with age. Therefore, odor and color cannot be used to indicate the fluid condition or the need for a fluid change.
The new 8-and 9-speed automatic transmissions (8HP70/948TE/9HP48) use a special Mopar. 8 & 9 Speed ATF (P/N 68218925AA). This fluid is not compatible with ATF+4. or any other transmission fluid. In addition, A fluid fill tube and indicator are not provided, It is not necessary to check the fluid level in the 948TE automatic transmission unless there are shifting issues and/or has evidence of a transmission fluid leak.
Engine coolant performs several functions, including taking heat away from the engine, lubricating the water pump and preventing corrosion within the cooling system. And, like transmission fluid there are several different blends. There are now 3 different coolants used in FCA US LLC vehicles.
As engine materials (engine blocks, cylinder heads, water pumps) evolved from cast iron to aluminum, the chemical formulation for coolant required reformulation to provide the necessary anti-corrosion protection. Propylene glycol-based (green) coolants became obsolete and were replaced with ethylene glycol-based coolants. FCA US LLC’s answer was Mopar Antifreeze/ Coolant, 5 Year/100,000 Mile Formula (MS-9769) ethylene glycol base coolant with hybrid organic corrosion inhibitors (called HOAT, for Hybrid Organic Additive Technology). This coolant offers the best engine cooling without corrosion when a mixture of 50% Ethylene Glycol and 50% distilled water is used. This mixture will have a freeze point of -35°F.
The color of this coolant is pink. If it loses color or becomes contaminated, drain, flush, and replace with fresh properly mixed coolant solution. The old green coolant MUST NOT BE MIXED with the orange or magenta coolants. When replacing coolant the complete system flush must be performed before using the replacement coolant.
CAUTION: Mopar Antifreeze/Coolant, 5 Year/100,000 Mile Formula (MS- 9769) cannot be mixed with any other type of antifreeze; doing so will reduce the corrosion protection and can result in premature water pump seal failure; if non-HOAT coolant is introduced into the cooling system in an emergency, it should be replaced with the specified coolant as soon as possible.
Coolant concentration should be checked when any additional coolant was added to system, or after a coolant drain, flush and refill. The coolant mixture offers optimum engine cooling and protection against corrosion when mixed to a freeze point of -34°F to -50°F. The use of a hydrometer or a refractometer can be used to test the coolant.
For the 2014 model year, a new, longer service life coolant, utilizing Organic Additive Technology (OAT) was introduced. This purple-colored coolant, Mopar P/N 68163849AB, has a service life of 10 year/150,000 miles. With this extended service interval, it’s possible that the coolant will outlast the ownership cycle of the vehicle.
Mixing OAT-based engine coolant (purple) should not be mixed with Hybrid Organic Additive Technology (HOAT) engine coolant (pink). It this is done, engine damage can result along with decreased corrosion protection.