Have a 2001 Mazda Tribute with 3.0l V6 with a 4 speed auto tranny & 170,00km on the clocks now. The Tribute is basically a rebadged Ford Escape so uses the same engine/gearbox combo. The gearbox is a Frod CD4E which is apparently notorious for getting stuck in gear (which is a $4000 repair) if you’re unlucky enough to get a bad one or if it’s been abused. Obviously we don’t want that so I’m trying to do some preventative maintenance to avoid such anguish which will include a fluid & filter change, & does of Auto Transmission additive & possibly a Transmission Cooler as I plan to tow some bike in the near future. See tranny cooler post here http://cbr250.com/forum/thread-7035.html
Now here’s the fun part – longish read. I’ve never owned an automatic before so am only learning about the ATF now. Apparently the box originally was speced with Mercon ATF (like most Fords of that era I gather). GM vehicle used Dexron 3 & they weren’t compatible. Now since 2000 & before 2006 Ford released Mercon V & GM Dexron IV for their new generation of 5 & 6 speed boxes which are supposed to be fully backwards compatible with older boxes. The license on Mercon & Dexron 3 name has since lapsed & Ford/GM didn’t pick them up again so they aren’t available as OEM ATF anymore.
Here’s where it gets confusing now…
I went to Supercheap the other day & couldn’t find Mercon grade oil. I found Valvoline DX3 (Dexron 3 I assume) which said it was suitable for most 4 speed Ford auto boxes on the container. I bought it before I did any research but can easily return it & get a refund. From what I’ve read on the net since using the worng grade ATF means a short life for your box so I’m thinking using the DX3 is a bad idea no matter what it says on the contrainer. I went to the Valvoline website to get confirmation their DX3 ATF was suitable for my gearbox but couldn’t find my car in their suitability lists. Then I went through their ATF products & found that besides offering the newer Mercon V & Dexron IV (no Mercon or Dexron 3 available anymore) they also offer some Dex/Merc dual purpose ATF & also a ‘Max Life’ version for high mileage boxes (over 120,000km).
I don’t know what to think really. How are you supposed to decipher this jargon & figure out what oil is best?? Anybody??!!
Valvoline ‘Max Life’ Dex/Merc
Valvoline Mercon V