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How to Flush a Econoline Transmission

by Cassandra Tribe

Changing the transmission filter and fluid on a Ford Econoline van every 25,000 miles by removing and draining the transmission pan will help maintain the transmission. This method, while adequate for an interim fluid changes, will leave old fluid in the transmission. A complete flush of an Econoline transmission is needed every 50,000 miles to completely remove all fluid from the transmission and keep it in good working order. Special machines are made to make the fluid exchange a 10-minute job, but you can also perform the task at home without a machine in about half an hour.

Park the Econoline on a level and hard surface. Shut off the engine and open the hood.

Place a drain pan under the radiator where the transmission cooling line connects to the radiator. There are two cooling lines connected to the radiator, one for transmission fluid coming in and one for the fluid leaving the radiator and re-entering the transmission system. It doesn't matter which hose you place the pan under.

Loosen the screw on the hose clamp of the transmission cooling line with a flat-head screwdriver and pull the hose off the radiator connection. Make sure the drain pan is positioned to catch fluid should it come out from either the radiator connection or the disconnected hose.

Start the engine and let it run briefly, check where the transmission fluid comes out from (hose or radiator) and turn the engine off. Reposition the pan so it is directly under the hose or radiator, whichever one the transmission fluid poured from when the engine was running.

Remove the filler cap and dipstick from the transmission fill pipe in the engine compartment. The fill pipe is toward the rear of the engine, just behind the air filter housing. Place the narrow end of a funnel in the fill pipe.

Start the engine and wait for the transmission fluid to begin to flow into the drain pan. When the fluid begins to drain, pour fresh transmission fluid into the funnel at the same flow rate as the fluid is draining into the pan. Make sure the fluid type is that specified for the year and model Econoline you are servicing. Add two quarts of fresh fluid to the transmission. Wait until no more transmission fluid is flowing from the radiator or disconnected hose (meaning all the old fluid and the two new quarts are flushed out) and shut off the engine.

Reconnect the transmission fluid line to the radiator and tighten the screw on the hose clamp to secure the line.

Raise the front of the vehicle with a car jack, one side at a time, using jackstands to support the weight of the vehicle. Don't rely on a car jack to support the weight while you working underneath the vehicle, as it can collapse. Place a chock block behind one rear tire to prevent the vehicle from rolling.

Slide under the vehicle and place the drain pan under the transmission fluid pan bolted to the underside of the transmission. Remove the bolts holding the transmission fluid pan to the transmission with a socket wrench and remove the pan, allowing any remaining fluid to pour into the drain pan. Peel off the old pan gasket and discard the gasket.

Use a Philips-head screwdriver to remove the screws holding the transmission filter screen in place and remove the filter screen.

Place a new transmission filter screen in position and secure it in place with the screws from the old screen.

Use spray engine degreaser to clean out the transmission fluid pan. Wipe the pan dry with clean rags. Lay a new gasket on the flat edge of the pan, making sure the bolt holes in the gasket line up with the bolt holes in the edge of the pan.

Lift the pan back into position on the bottom of the transmission and insert the bolts. Hand tighten all the bolts, then use a socket wrench to finish tightening the bolts in place. Tighten each bolt a little before moving onto the next so all the bolts are tightened into place evenly and the pan doesn't warp.

Lower the vehicle off the jackstands by raising one side of the vehicle higher with the car jack, removing the stand, then lowering the vehicle before moving to lower the other side.

Pour two quarts of automatic transmission fluid into the funnel in the transmission fill pipe. Start the engine and shift through all the positions on the transmission. With the engine running, pull out the funnel and use the dipstick to check the fluid level. Continue to add small amounts of transmission fluid, shifting through all the positions and checking the fluid level, until the correct levels have been reached. Remember to replace the transmission fill cap when done.

Tip

  • Place a plastic tarp under the transmission before removing the fluid pan to prevent transmission fluid from spilling onto the ground.

Warning

  • Don't flush the transmission on a vehicle that has traveled more than 100,000 miles without a transmission fluid flush or change. A flush could dislodge accumulated gunk in the transmission and cause damage to the inner gears.

Items you will need

About the Author

Cassandra Tribe has worked in the construction field for over 17 years and has experience in a variety of mechanical, scientific, automotive and mathematical forms. She has been writing and editing for over 10 years. Her areas of interest include culture and society, automotive, computers, business, the Internet, science and structural engineering and implementation.

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