2012 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 3500, Transmission Service
Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, serving Vancouver and area for 38 years, cars maintenance and repairs and trucks. Eighteen time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So, we’re talking about a 2012 Mercedes Benz Sprinter van, a 3500 which is a pretty big unit and you had a transmission service with this vehicle. What was going on?
Bernie: This vehicle, we’ve done a couple hangouts already on this vehicle already, one of the services this vehicle required was a transmission service. It looked, had 150,000 kilometres, the fluid was quite dark and definitely due for a service.
Mark: So what would be a correct interval for services of the transmission on a Sprinter van?
Bernie: Usually around 100,000 kilometres, plus or minus, and inspecting the quality of the fluid of course is an important way to determine whether it needs service or not. Around a 100,000 k’s, 60,000 miles.
Mark: Anything unique about this service?
Bernie: Not particularly, I mean, it’s a pan removal type of service. Se we can take a pan off, clean it, put a new filter in and then flush it with our transmission flushing machine. So I think nothing particularly unique. It’s sort of just a standard rear wheel drive type transmission service.
Mark: And what’s the proper way to do a thorough service on an automatic transmission?
Bernie: I’m glad you asked because there are different ways to do service and I would say that there’s a different variety of ways that services are done. The proper way as I mentioned is to take the transmission pan off, to drain the pan completely, replace the filter. To clean the pan, inspect it for any filings or any materials and then flush it with transmission flushing machine. This way you get about probably 95% of the fluid replaced. Any other way there’s a bit of a compromise. Now you can’t do the pan on every vehicle. Some vehicle actually don’t have a removable pan and the filters are contained inside the transmission. It’s so labour intensive, it’s just not worth doing but wherever you can, it’s the best thing to do. Let’s get into a few photos here. Here’s a sample of fluid. So this is a drop of the fluid that come out of the transmission and this is what clean transmission fluid looks like with the exception of this black stuff behind it for some reason. It’s a very close up kind of picture but it’s a nice bright red colour. I mean, some transmission fluids are a little cleared but none of them are black like this. So this has got transmission material, clutch pack material, band material and just generally burnt you know, fluid so basically you want the fluid to look like this not like that. So that’s pretty old fluid. This is our fluid flushing machine hooked up. So this is after we replace the pan and the filter. We pumped a new fluid in and then let the transmission run and the transmission fluid service machine pump new fluid in. You can this is the out, this is the fluid going out of the vehicle, again it’s very dark and we basically flush it to the point where the fluid coming out of the vehicle is pretty much this colour. So then we know the service is done and it’s complete. Now a couple points on why you want to take the pan off because you can do the service by just hooking up a machine and some shops do it. They just hook up the machine, there’s some of them have a drain boil. You can drain the fluid out, then you can hook a machine up or you can actually suck the fluid out through the dipstick, if it has a dipstick. You can pump new fluid in through, you can do a service. But here’s why you want to do it properly. This is what was in the bottom of the pan. Now the fluid has a slightly metallic look to it, but this is the magnet. Now there is some material, slight amount of wear in this transmission probably not abnormal. This material stuck on the magnet, you want to know that, you know is the transmission full of metal filings. If it is, you let the customer know the transmission is probably not going to last much longer. There’s some sort of serious problems might need to be dealt with. But here again, we clean this off, we clean everything in the bottom and one other photo, on it, just to show again why it’s important to actually take the pan off. This is a close up of the, where the drain bolt is in the pan. Now that there is the top of the drain bolt and when you remove it, you’ve got this much which is probably about a centimetre between the bottom of the pan and the top of the drain bolt where the fluid will drain out. So you’re leaving all the debris and crap in the bottom of the pan when you drain it out. So it’s really never a good service if you don’t do it fully and complete by removing the pan. So there’s my photo collection for the day.
Mark: So why would anyone want to do less than a full service?
Bernie: Well I think it’s the way it’s presented. I mean some shops just for some reason they think they can get away with doing, let’s just do a quick job on it, let’s you know, let’s get the customers out the door in an hour type thing. It’s a speedy service type thing instead of taking the time to go, how do we do this service properly. You don’t have to do it very often if you do it right. We just had a Subaru yesterday where the owner had the transmission fluid flushed twice and the fluid was dirty and we looked underneath it and no one had ever take the pan off to clean the inside of the pan out, there’s a spin of filter on the side of this particular Subaru, it never even been changed. So again, a couple of services, quick, cheap, you know, let’s get it in and out the door and people are often attracted by a cheap price. So just because a price is cheap doesn’t mean you’re getting the right service. You need to ask how do you do this service if you’re going somewhere? Do you take the pan off, if it has it? Clean to, how do you do it? So it’s definitely more work, it costs more money but it’s done right the first time.
Mark: And that means your vehicle is going to last longer.
Bernie: It is for sure, absolutely.
Mark: And how are Sprinter transmissions for reliability?
Bernie: Yeah, overall are pretty good. We rarely see an issue with them, they’re generally pretty well built.
Mark: So there you go. If you’re looking for service for your Sprinter van in Vancouver the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 or check our their website pawlikautomotive.com. Thanks Bernie
Bernie: Thanks Mark.