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When you lose the capability to gradually renew the autobox fluid...

XJ XJ6 / XJR6 ( X300 ) 1995-1997

When you lose the capability to gradually renew the autobox fluid...

Old 09-06-2015, 11:09 PM
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Default When you lose the capability to gradually renew the autobox fluid...

Shortly after purchasing my X300, I purchased a 5 gal pail of ATF that met both DEXRON II/III and Mercon specs. The Excursion requires Mercon (NOT Mercon V...the Ford book is emphatic) and the X300 specifies Dexron. I engaged in the popular practice of draining the autobox at each engine oil change and replacing a like amount of fluid with new.

According to my records, I last performed such an operation in April, 2013 at 132,000 miles. Ever since, I've been unable to remove the transmission drain plug, due to the internal allen-head being stripped out. I guess I may have tried a selection of ill-fitting allens and torx bits until I had it well and properly stripped. I attribute this to my over-50 eyesight and the close quarters even with the front end on ramps.

So probably well over a year ago, I ordered a replacement transmission drain plug. I think it was biting winter cold when it arrived and I decided that can wait until summer. Sometime in the interim, I determined that I may well have to pull the pan to get the drain plug out and ordered a filter and gasket.

After much grunting and swearing under the car with various channel-locks, vise-grips, and even a basin wrench, I accepted that I'd have to pull the pan. How I'd remove the plug once I had the pan off, I hadn't quite worked out, but I could at least renew the fluid and filter even if I had to re-install the pan with the stripped plug.

Pretty straight-forward procedure excepting the fact that I needed an alternate drain path. I did notice that the copy of JTIS I have had "To be determined" for all the relevant torque-tightening specs. I fished out an X300 CD I got with the car and fortunately, the gearbox manual on it had the torque specs. I chose to drain through the dipstick connection. That has a very large hex-nut of unknown size - I used a large adjustable wrench I bought for use on the tractor - it was bigger than any metric or SAE combo wrench in my inventory. The torque spec on this joint is 90 nm. Since I only had a short distance between the end of the wrench handle and the floor, I used a 4lb sledge on the end of the adjustable for breakaway torque.

Next step is to remove the rotary switch protection cover - a deepwell 10 mm socket and ratchet is fine for the bolt along the side of the fluid pan, though I noted the breakaway torque gave a clue that the last person to fit this fixing maybe didn't follow the manufacturer's recommended torque tightening of 15-18 nm. I couldn't budge the other bolt, on the front of the fluid pan, with a 10mm combo wrench, nor could I find a suitable cheater pipe to help it along. With the dipstick tube disconnected, I did manage to fit a shallow 10 mm socket with 6" wobble extension and managed to remove it. Still, both were "hellatight!"

There are 6 fluid pan fixing bolts and clips. A deepwell 10mm will get them all, but a 3" extension helps greatly along the left side where the exhaust pipe makes a close pass. I loosened all 6, then removed the fronts, then the middles, so as to complete the drain evolution through the dipstick connection port. Lastly, the aft fixings and the fluid pan was free. The gearbox will drip for an eternity, it seems, so leave your catch-basin in situ.

The filter has 3 fairly long fixing bolts actuated by a T25 Torx. It holds a fair amount of fluid itself, which it is happy to regurgitate as you remove it. The O-ring came out attached to the old filter, which helped identify where the new one in the Ziploc baggie should be installed on the new filter. When installing the new filter, the fixing bolt torque tightening spec is 8 nm.

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I struggled to remove the stripped drain plug. With a better access, greater range of movement, and much better visibility, I found the channel-locks that seemed to grip the best underneath the car but slipped off before breaking it loose, were also the most-promising tool upright in the sunlight. However, they were still inadequate. I decided I had enough of a round head to bring a pipe-wrench to bear, but alas, no joy. I remembered I had a 3-pack of screw extractors from some unknown source a number of years ago, and managed to locate them. What I discovered is that they are excellent drills for drilling through material in an anti-clockwise direction. I stopped short of going all the way through the plug (or so I thought) as I didn't want to create a leak in case I had to re-install it as-is. I had clamped the pan to the work table in order to use these extractor bits. It occurred to me that having the pan fixed, stable and facing up, rather than down, made for better removal conditions. I retrieved the basin wrench, again, from the pegboard, used the channel-locks to clamp the jaws of the basin-wrench around the head of the plug, and applied some torque. At first it seemed like the head was moving without the threads, as I could see a stationary bit as I moved it. I continued unscrewing and finally removed the old plug. My extractor/drill had breached the radius between the threaded part and the head.
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So I was lucky to get it off as I reckon I'd have had a leak if I'd reinstalled it as-was. The manual instructs you to fit a new washer under the drain plug and torque it to 15 nm. The old plug didn't have a washer, nor did any come with the new, and the plugs were radiused as if to seal to the boss fitted to the pan. I put 15nm on it and noted that now and forever more, it takes the "H5" from my set of 3/8" drive allens.

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I found both magnets to be pretty-well loaded with sludge. Also, traces of the sludge on the exterior of the filter, though I haven't cut it open to have a look at the screen mesh.
If you look closely at the one on the right, you can see where I took a "finger swipe" which will give you an estimate of the depth of build up:
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I acquired the car at 63K miles, and not sure, but I reckon I started the drain & refill procedure at each oil change by about 80K - thru 132K as mentioned above, then put 50K more on unmolested. Given the sludge noted, I'd say it may be useful to pull the pan, clean the magnets and change the filter every 120k even if you are periodically renewing the fluid through the drain/refill method.

I extracted, then replaced, the better portion of a gallon of fluid. My recollection from 2 yrs ago is that I'd routinely get 3 qts when I drained it through the plug. No leaks, shifted fine in normal and sport on an approximate 5 mile round-trip down US 380 and back. I didn't feel like putting on a 20 mile trip to perform the hot-idle fluid level check proscribed by the manual. I'll perform that one tomorrow for final top-up.

Last edited by aholbro1; 09-07-2015 at 08:52 AM.
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Old 09-10-2015, 10:24 AM
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You sir are my hero for the day.
Old 10-07-2015, 07:25 PM
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B-nut on the dipstick tube requires 30 mm hex per Bob's post here:
Old 10-12-2015, 08:28 PM
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If one is just refreshing the fluid, it is IMHO easier to pull out the fluid from transmissions through the dipstick tube via a pump and refill. It's a lot less mess and no risk of stripping a plug.

Clearly if one is also going to replace the filter, the pan needs to be dropped.

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Old 07-19-2017, 04:20 AM
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Ever considered welding a hex nut onto the drain plug?
Would have saved you a lot of work...

But, on the other hand, now you know exactly how and what...
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Old 05-08-2019, 08:28 AM
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A lil late in seeing this useful suggestion from Dutch-Cat; but the answer is: "No."

Having not yet added a welder to my shop, let alone having acquired the skillset, although a brilliant time-saver, for me to consider welding anything onto anything else would be, well, as my former German colleagues put it, "Wunchdenken."

I have since discovered a nest of fatigue and stress engineers down the hall from me at work that are amateur welding enthusiasts, who have coached me up on what welder to buy and offered tips on technique, but, although I have a clear use, even "need" for a welder, its turn in the barrel of financial priorities hasn't yet come up. In the meantime, when presented with a broken weld-stud on a door-check-arm, I explained the issue to one of them and inquired if he wanted a practice-piece for next time he had the welder fired up? I already had a replacement from Everyday XJ so told him no worries if he bung it up, and no worries as to timing. Got back a perfectly serviceable check-arm with a new bolt welded in-place of the broken one after a single weekend had passed!

So yeah, I need one, so I can consider such things....

Last edited by aholbro1; 05-08-2019 at 10:10 AM.
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Old 05-08-2019, 09:20 AM
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If you need something welded, let me know.
I have wire-feed, MIG, TIG, 'stick-welder', oxy-acetylene.

No spot-welder but maybe someday?

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