Phixion

The AW55 Fill For Life question

24 posts in this topic

I know a commonly asked or at least wondered question is how do I service my AW55 tranny in the models that have them?  Almost all US S40's have it, many S60's and other models too I'd imagine...  Volvo recommends to never change the fluid, that it is meant to be there the life of the transmission and car.  I don't buy into this.  I believe they say this merely as a liability statement since improper flushing or even replacing of fluid on a poorly maintained transmission can potentially lead to premature malfunction and damage.  If properly maintained, then flushing or replacing fluid using only manufacture recommended or supplied fluid and filling to the proper level amount should not have issue.  People that don't follow that and use generic or incorrect fluid and/or don't fill to the right amount, will certainly pay dearly for that not long after if not remedied immediately, especially on a badly maintained transmission to begin with.

What's everyone's take on this?  Do you change your ATF regularly, or ever flush, or are you following Volvo's recommendation to never touch it?

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I flushed  3x times since I owned it when the odometer have 14 miles.

first time around 33k? I used  oem Honda ATT fluid

 

2nd time around 70k with mobile 1

 

and last one just done at 122k by the same shop as the 2nd time.

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It's not really a news flash that you need to change the fluids in the AW55. IPD has been selling there trans flush kit for it for a long time. I guess you just haven't noticed it. I think there's a TSB from Volvo recommending that you flush it with the correct fluid ONLY as many people use Dexron. USE ONLY Mobil 3309 or Toyota T-4 fluid, I've been using Mobil 1 synthetic ATF for years. If you don't use 3309 or T-4, you want fluid that says it's "compatible" not "comparable", a lot of fluid will say it's "comparable" but isn't the same thing.

For my '00R I've been flushing the trans yearly since I got it back in '06 with 100K on it, the trans had been replaced sometime before the 60K warranty ran out under the original owner. I was worried about it dying on me that I got a spare off of John Sharp out of his old Laser with 150K on it.

Well this past Nov, if finally died, and I had it rebuilt. But that was 9yrs and 115K that I've owned it, the last several I've had a tune with the torque limiter on 1st and 2nd removed and I've been very rough on it too. So flushing it yearly can really save it from an early death... Also adding a trans cooler will help as heat is the real killer of these boxes.

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And the people that argue that you must follow what the manual and Volvo say on the matter (Fill For Life) I just don't understand.  They argue that you must follow that recommendation as doing otherwise (replacing or flushing) will ruin and kill the tranny.  That's total BS if it's done properly with the correct fluid.  And if it dies soon after, then it was going to happen anyways regardless.  I completely agree with you NEU.  Just wanted some feedback as there's a thread on this on another forum where almost everyone argues never to change it.  I contest that even Aisin would recommend you change it every so often at the least even if the car makers that use them say otherwise.  They'd all rather sell you a new tranny or rebuild it than sell you fluid to maintain it.  And at that, the recommendation to not replace or flush is just a liability recommendation statement to save themselves should someone blame Aisin or Volvo should they replace or flush incorrectly.  That only make logical sense anyways to me.

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Agree with Neu - changing fluid helps prolong the life.

I'm lucky, as P2Rs here in Australia came with a separate Volvo trans cooler as standard.

At 130k after 2 fluid changes my AW55 shifts nicely.

The other thing to note is how you change the fluid.

1. Drain & refill

With the engine off - this is the quickest, but may not fully exchange the fluid in the transmission
(e.g. torque converter)
A drain & fill is better than doing nothing.

2. Pump & refill

Disconnecting the trans cooler return line and refilling the trans while the engine is running (IPD instructions) - IMHO is the best option.
This ensures all the fluid is exchanged.

3. Power flush

Using special equipment that flushes the trans fluid under pressure.
Personally I don't think this is a good idea for transmissions with lots of miles on them.
 

 

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I don't think Volvo states that you shouldn't change out the fluid anymore. Maybe back in the early '00's, before they had issues with the AW55 on the '00R and early P2. Like I mentioned there is a TSB that recommends that you flush is with 3309. It used to be here before they got rid of all the TSB posts, too bad as that was some really good info that this site lost... :rolleyes: Volvo wanted to make sure you flush it with 3309 so they didn't loose money (which they were) have to replace it under warranty...;)

Also if you talk to anyone that has an AW55 for a long amount of time they will tell you that you must flush to make it last. Black trans fluid will not make it last, but cherry red will! I'm not sure what forum you are referring to but nobody I know is saying don't flush it, that's just ridicules. Even on the Saab and Nissan forums with there version of the AW55 they flush it. I think what you are reading is a bunch of folks that are maybe referring to other transmissions that if you flushed them would crap out. But those are the folk that also believe that you HAVE to use OEM spark plugs because they have "voodoo magic" to them and no other plugs will work (don't get me started on that bullshit either...):rolleyes:

And do not do the "drain and fill", you want to do the "pump and refill" as you don't get all the fluid out as Tzantushka mentioned when you drain it and are just contaminating the new fluid with the old crap since you can't get it all out. I heard people say it's OK cause they just do that several times but you are still mixing contaminated fluid with new stuff. Eventually you have a lower amount of old fluid in the box but how many times do you want to do that? And a case of 3309/Mobil 1/T-4 isn't cheap so why not do it the best way to pump the old out while adding the new stuff and not contaminate it. I know a case is around $100+ to do that several times a year is just stupid, when you can do it one with the pump and refill. I use 14qts and I'm done for the year... IPD flush kit instructions After that do a trans adaptor reset and you'll have a happy AW55.

Again I'd only listen to folk that have first hand experience with this. Folks like Ihatespeedbumps, JRL, some others and myself have been around the AW55 long enough to KNOW what works... I recall Ghostshadow on VS making a thread about how good his p2Rs AW55 was after flushing with Valvoline ATF. I mentioned that it was a bad idea as it's "comparable" fluid, not "compatible" fluid and it wasn't worth saving a $1 or 2 on the wrong fluid. He laughed and told me I didn't know what I was talking about. Well a year or so later sold his p2R with a bad trans... Who's laughing now Steve...:lol::D:rolleyes:

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That's all great info!  And I feel the same way and KNOW that changing fluid is required to make it last.  Sure fill for life, but how long is that life really?  It's going to be short if you don't ever flush or exchange fluid.  A local Swedish only specialty shop will do a complete flush for around $400 including the fluid used.  It's about 12 quarts used from what I remember of it.  When I had the engine replaced on my old '01 S40 (also an AW55), the mechanic did a flush one the house since a "new" motor was going in, and wanted to make sure everything would run real nice and smooth.  I know that the manual for my S60 has little to no reference for fluid changing the tranny.  My S40 manual had not even a reference to where the tranny dipstick was and said merely that it's fill for life, never needs any servicing.  Say what!?

BTW, the nay-sayers have no ammo for the don't flush fight.  I proposed that if not changing fluid is what it is because Volvo says so, then to prove WHY that's the case and why they say it.  So far not a single response since.  And we all know that's because there is no explanation why.  It's just nonsense to sell an expensive component down the road.  It's like saying you never need to change oil, well almost...

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On January 5, 2016 at 1:44 PM, Phixion said:

That's all great info!  And I feel the same way and KNOW that changing fluid is required to make it last.  Sure fill for life, but how long is that life really?  It's going to be short if you don't ever flush or exchange fluid.  A local Swedish only specialty shop will do a complete flush for around $400 including the fluid used.  It's about 12 quarts used from what I remember of it.  When I had the engine replaced on my old '01 S40 (also an AW55), the mechanic did a flush one the house since a "new" motor was going in, and wanted to make sure everything would run real nice and smooth.  I know that the manual for my S60 has little to no reference for fluid changing the tranny.  My S40 manual had not even a reference to where the tranny dipstick was and said merely that it's fill for life, never needs any servicing.  Say what!?

BTW, the nay-sayers have no ammo for the don't flush fight.  I proposed that if not changing fluid is what it is because Volvo says so, then to prove WHY that's the case and why they say it.  So far not a single response since.  And we all know that's because there is no explanation why.  It's just nonsense to sell an expensive component down the road.  It's like saying you never need to change oil, well almost...

I paid for power flush with fluid cost at $150 for 12 quarts. If they want $400, that is a rip off.

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For the nedcar I think I bought 12 quarts on amazon - 3 x $29 free shipping, clear hose and a dual barb fitting  at home depot $5 and a bucket with measuring markers on the side. We don't have the cool kid plastic dingle dangle or orings to worry about.

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15 hours ago, xcites40 said:

I paid for power flush with fluid cost at $150 for 12 quarts. If they want $400, that is a rip off.

That's what I thought too Xcites, since on a Honda it was $120 from the dealership for one out the door.  Did you have the flush done at an independent garage, or a dealership or specialty garage?  And I stand corrected, the cost on the invoice was $349...  $249 for the fluid (@ $24.97 a quart!!  WTF!?) and $100 for the labor.  As I said, it was on the house, but that's the charge for it apparently there.  Wow, that is a total rip off at least on the ATF cost...

 

I like TEEKAY's method.  ;-)  And I'm going to at some point here do the IPD and Neu's suggested "pump and refill" exchange of fluid.  As a general measure, my memory serves that nearly 1/2 of the fluid is retained by the torque converter, thus why a simple drain and fill isn't terribly effective.  In the Nedcar, that's 3.5 to 4 quarts of still dirty fluid.

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The S60 has had the trans flushed yearly since 68,000 miles and at 180,000 it went dead.  I'm about 10K miles into the re-manufactured unit from Volvo and haven't had a single "slamshift" yet.  The other one began by banging into drive and park, and then turned into banging in and out of 3rd.  Regardless of whether you flush it religiously or not, if you ever encounter a bang or slam shift,  it will inevitably fail as you've already lost metal into a solenoid or the converter.  

Software updates,  clean fluid,  and a trans cooler will prolong the life more than not flushing it ever.  

 

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17 hours ago, 33647_1450202331 said:

m56 is where its at

LOL! I bought my car just for the AW55, why would I want a manual in daily traffic of DC... :lol:

 

10 hours ago, xcites40 said:

I paid for power flush with fluid cost at $150 for 12 quarts. If they want $400, that is a rip off.

 

1 hour ago, TEEKAY said:

For the nedcar I think I bought 12 quarts on amazon - 3 x $29 free shipping, clear hose and a dual barb fitting  at home depot $5 and a bucket with measuring markers on the side. We don't have the cool kid plastic dingle dangle or orings to worry about.

When I flush it's $120ish, I use 14qts of Mobil 1 synthetic ATF @ $9ea. For my flush kit I made I had the clear hose sitting on the shelf and I reuse old gallon jugs that I've marked with half gallons measurements. The O ring makes it easy for me as I don't need to clamp the trans hose to keep the flush hose on. Only issue is when I ripped one of Oring and hooked the wrong hose up to flush and found oil on the garage floor. Did that once and never again. :rolleyes:

 

5 minutes ago, 1clean00 said:

The S60 has had the trans flushed yearly since 68,000 miles and at 180,000 it went dead.  I'm about 10K miles into the re-manufactured unit from Volvo and haven't had a single "slamshift" yet.  The other one began by banging into drive and park, and then turned into banging in and out of 3rd.  Regardless of whether you flush it religiously or not, if you ever encounter a bang or slam shift,  it will inevitably fail as you've already lost metal into a solenoid or the converter.  

Software updates,  clean fluid,  and a trans cooler will prolong the life more than not flushing it ever.  

 

Don't forget  to do the adaptor reset after you flush it.

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Ok, I need to look into the software piece.  What should be asking about or for in regards to that?  Mine is an '04 remember...  Any specific cooler recommended for the trans?  And where's a good mount spot for it?  Back in my Honda days, I had an autobox in mine, and replaced the paper thin radiator for a Koyo twin core which they only make for manual models.  So I had to add in an external cooler which was for the better anyways.  I went to local speed shop around the corner and bought a cheap $$ Permacool unit.  Worked just fine for the 100K I had it from that point onward.  Could I do the same in this case?

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On January 7, 2016 at 11:26 AM, Phixion said:

That's what I thought too Xcites, since on a Honda it was $120 from the dealership for one out the door.  Did you have the flush done at an independent garage, or a dealership or specialty garage?  And I stand corrected, the cost on the invoice was $349...  $249 for the fluid (@ $24.97 a quart!!  WTF!?) and $100 for the labor.  As I said, it was on the house, but that's the charge for it apparently there.  Wow, that is a total rip off at least on the ATF cost...

 

It was Indy shop specialized in Volvo. Long time shop V shop . The owner used to own old 960 with T6 engine swap. I got a ride it in and it was pretty nice with smooth delivery. It was dyno around 302whp. 

 

7 hours ago, 33647_1450202331 said:

Manly calves

That why I do calf raise

Edited by xcites40

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The place that did any work on my S40 was also Volvo only specialty.  The owner who was a mechanic back in Sweden has a really nice S60R and was going to be importing in a newer used tricked out R from there which I'm sure he has already since then.  Every other tech there owns and drives a Volvo of some sort whether newer or older.  Always nice to see shop employees drive what they specialize in and not something else.  But that flush charge, whoa!!

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