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goldcamj

ATF smell.....Valvoline MaxLife????

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My 04 GTP (124K mi) gave me a few bangs into gear from a stop when cold (maybe because of this:  http://www.tripleedgeperformance.com/No-Forward-Cold.html..... just guessing at this point), so I figured I would change the transmission fluid and filter.  I dropped the pan, replaced the filter, installed the TransGo shift kit while I was in there, and then filled it with Valvoline MaxLife ATF, since it seems people online were recommending it for older transmissions.

So far, the transmission seems to be doing better.  There has only been one recurrence of the "bang" issue.  That being said, man, does this thing stink when it gets warmed up now.  The smell of ATF is very strong after the transmission fluid gets up to about 150F or so.  At first, I thought that I had just spilled some fluid when doing the pan drop/re-fill and that it would burn off.  It hasn't.  I've crawled under and checked....no leaks to be found, and no fluid residue from the change.  It's been about a month.  

Here's my best guess....let me know if you have any insight:

I think that it is the Valvoline MaxLife fluid that is the issue.  I noticed when putting it in that it smells a bit stronger than your usual ATF like Dextron.  The smell seems stronger on the top of the transmission, right around where the vent tube is.  I am guessing that the smell is so strong from this fluid when it is hot, that just the little bit of vapors that escape from the vent tube are really creating a noticeable smell.

Has anyone else used MaxLife and had a similar experience?  I've searched online and found some similar stories, but none with a 4T65-E that I can remember.  Also, there were plenty of responses in those stories that made it seem like MaxLife doesn't normally smell bad in most applications.  

Is it possible that the vent isn't working right?  I thought the  only way for it to malfunction is for it to get clogged, which I doubt it is.  Can it be "too open"?  


Barring any other insight, I'll probably drain the fluid and put Dextron back in to see if it makes a difference.
 

Thanks for reading.







 

Edited by goldcamj

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The DIC (Driver Information Center) on the dash in the car has a transmission fluid temp gauge.  In the summer, it can get up to 200-210F.  Usually, when running at temp, it is ambient outside temp + 100-110 F.  This is pretty much "normal", at least in my 10 years of owning the car.  I never noticed any smell until I changed the fluid to MaxLife.

Edited by goldcamj

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Goldcamj I had the same rotten egg smell after changing to Maxlife.

 

If you want that rotten egg smell to go away you will have to replace the Maxlife with a more expensive fluid. I ran a hose down the filler tube and pumped out all the fluid I could and then replaced it. I had to do that twice to finally get rid of that nasty smell.

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That sounds like a plan that I will probably be taking.  Good to know I'm not the only one.

Does anyone have any thoughts on which fluid to use?  I've read that Dex VI has a lower viscosity than Dex III.  If my not-yet-proven assumption that my "bang into gear" issue is caused by a wearing out input piston seal (see tripleedgeperformance link on original post), I would think that lower viscosity fluid would not help that issue (again, not knowing for sure that's what it is).  Maybe a Dex III compatible variant is a better choice?

 

Thanks for all the input!



 

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Almost every one here is going to disagree with this but here goes.

Whatever trans fluid your car came with stay with that fluid because the clutch packs were set up for that fluid.

If your car came with dex 3 stay with dex 3 especially if your transmission is having problems. GM no longer sells dex-3 but sells and licenses the sale of dex-6, which is synthetic and is thinner and slicker than dex-3. Maxlife is also a synthetic trans fluid.

You can still buy dex-3 but companies like Castrol can no longer use the name dex-3 so they have to call it dex/merk.or MD-3.

When I charged out the maxlife I used Havoline MD-3 trans fluid, which looks smells and feels like dex-3.

 

 

 

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Thanks, guys.  I was leaning towards Dex III.  I put Dex VI in my other grand prix ('04 GT) several years ago with no regrets, but it really didn't have any symptoms of any problems (still doesn't).


 

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On 11/3/2018 at 9:46 PM, goldcamj said:

 after the transmission fluid gets up to about 150F or so.  

I noticed when putting it in that it smells a bit stronger than your usual ATF like Dextron. 

I'll probably drain the fluid and put Dextron back in to see if it makes a difference.
 

 

On 11/4/2018 at 1:18 AM, Imp558 said:

That's a little hot, you should consider an auxiliary cooler.

1.  150 is on the cool side, not hot.  170--190 is about right.  I don't get worried until the fluid is hotter than than the electric-fan turn-on temperature.  Might be nice to have confirmation that your trans temp gauge is accurate, though.

2.  There is no "t" in Dexron.

3.  If the smell bothers you, I figure you have three choices:  A ) change fluid again.  This is why it's nice to put a drain plug in the pan while you have it off, B )  add a hose to the trans vent tube, route the hose to the back of the vehicle, or to a charcoal canister to absorb the smell, or C ) get used to the stench, hope it goes away eventually.

4.  There's something to be said for staying with Dex/Merc "Dex III" fluid.  Be aware that ATF fluid viscosity has been dropping since Fido was a pup, it's nothing new.  It is a pain in the ass for motorcyclists who have front forks that use ATF as shock oil, because "ATF" now isn't the same viscosity as it was in 1965.  Or 1985.  Or 2005.

Edited by Schurkey

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1.  Right.  I don't know if my gauge is accurate, but the temps now are in the same range as they have been since ten years ago. So, that suggests that the source of the smell is likely not "cooking" the trans, but rather the change to the different fluid.  

2.  Oops...I've been saying "Dextron" my whole life.  Funny how that works.

3.  Those are all good choices....well, except C.  I thought about running a tube over to the passenger side of the engine compartment, since the HVAC intake is right over the top of the driver's side where the smell seems to be originating.

 

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For what it's worth, new MaxLife definitely has a strong odor when it's fresh. When we put the TEP trans in the Regal, I did the initial fill with the Dex6 compliant MaxLife and it had a STRONG odor of transmission fluid for the first thousand miles. I was convinced I had a leak, but I could never find one. Eventually it went away altogether. 

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On 11/11/2018 at 9:31 PM, digitaloutsider said:

For what it's worth, new MaxLife definitely has a strong odor when it's fresh. When we put the TEP trans in the Regal, I did the initial fill with the Dex6 compliant MaxLife and it had a STRONG odor of transmission fluid for the first thousand miles. I was convinced I had a leak, but I could never find one. Eventually it went away altogether. 

That's interesting, and basically describes how I feel about it (was sure it was leaking, but no evidence of any leak)  Maybe I'll give it a while to see what happens.  I can live with the smell for a little while, especially since winter is on the way and the trans temps are running lower (and therefore less smelly).



The trans is definitely filled to the appropriate level.  I've checked several times (hot, level, etc.).  

 

Edited by goldcamj

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