E350 4Matic: 39,000 Mile Transmission and Transfer Case Service - Part 1 - Mercedes-Benz Forum
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post #1 of 52 (permalink) Old 07-09-2010, 03:35 PM Thread Starter
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E350 4Matic: 39,000 Mile Transmission and Transfer Case Service - Part 1

Well, we are just over 41,000 miles on our 2007 E350 4Matic, so time to do the next scheduled service (due in about 800 miles, per the dash indicator) and the 39,000 mile "one time" transmission fluid/filter change and transfer case fluid change.

Here's an overview of how it has gone so far:

1. NAPA carries filter and gasket kits for the 722.676 transmission in our car, about $20, plus Mobil 1 0W-40 (per MB 229.5 spec) at ~$7.50/qt., and also the Mann HU718/5 fleece filter at ~$16. Oil change goes smoothly - I really like the topside mounted filter setup, but on the other hand the oil pan drain plug is at the R front corner of the pan and when you pull the plug, some of the oil splashes around onto the frame. But all in all, an easy job - the underbody splash shields come off with an 8mm socket, and the drain plug is a good old 13 mm. The 8.4 qts of fresh Mobil 1 go in quickly. Materials/parts for oil change: about $88 plus tax. That oil ain't cheap.

2. Transmission fluid and transfer case fluid are from the local M-B dealer. The ATF is 236.14 spec (latest and greatest, mandatory for 7 speeds and OK for the 5 speed in our 4Matic as well), part number A 001 989 68 03 10, and is $17.50 a quart. The service guys say ~4 qts to do the pan and filter. Apparently draining the torque converter is now passe..... The transfer case stuff is an oddball item, 236.13 spec and the only known supplier is .... (drum roll please) . . . M-B! The part number is A 001 989 23 03 10 and is a $23/qt. hit. Fortunately, the refill quantity is only ~0.7 quart. Materials/parts cost for transmission and transfer case: about $115 plus tax.

3. The transmission fluid and filter go smoothly - drain the pan (use male Torx 30 to remove drain plug), then drop the pan (6 Torx 30 bolts with "sprags", as the DVD calls them, I would call them "standoffs", to give a secure attachment without bending the pain rail). Pan drops right out, and the filter pops out easily. Good news: fluid smells and looks great, the valve body is clean, and the pan is not too heavily coated with the usual debris film. The round magnet at the back of the pan has some gunk on it, as would be expected, but everything cleans up nicely and goes back together quickly. NOTE - the transmission filter has a little standoff/locator tab that fits into the underside of the valve body, and then the filter's inlet pipe pops the rest of the way into the valve body.

My loving wife (well, since she gets to drive the car all the time, she OUGHT to be loving ) helps me pour and measure the ATF that we drained, and it adds up to 3.4 liters. There was not much spillage, etc. in the process so I allocated another 0.3 liter for that, and will be refilling with 3.7 to 3.8 liters. I don't have the trans dipstick so will perhaps need someone at the dealer to kindly check it next time I am over that way.....

4. The Transfer Case - well, now it gets a little more challenging. Remove the heat shield off from behind the transfer case, undo the rear drive shaft from the rubber donut joint at the back of the transfer case, drop the rear crossmember, and remove the rear engine mount. All of this is a mixture of 15, 16, and 17 mm nuts and bolts. You want a jack under the transfer case to support things as the crossmember, etc. come off. Access to the 3 driveshaft bolts is such that you will want to have the car in neutral and parking brake off, so you can rotate the driveshaft by hand (not easy, but doable) to get at each of them without too much cussing. This is one reason that jack stands at all 4 corners are a good plan, rather than ramps at the rear.

NOW - we need to remove a "vibration damper" on the transfer case to access the fill port, and the "check port" (where it dribbles out after you've filled it enough). And M-B has decided to use a fastener I don't have a tool for!!! I've got male Torx, male XZNs, hex, and lots of regular sockets, but these 3 bolts appear to have a Female Torx socket (6 lobes on the bolt head), which I unfortunately do not have. The good news is these are not too exotic and appear readily available locally. Looks like a stop at Sears tomorrow morning on the way to the airport, and I can grab a set.

THE PLAN: once I get those Torx sockets, it looks like the damper will come off easily, and the fill/drain/check plugs should be no problem. The fill port is up top, where access is a little tight, but a pump and tubing setup will do the job - plus, the engine/trans could be dropped a bit to allow better access of need be.

Once that is done, it appears that everything will go back together pretty easily. Then, refill the transmission, reset the FSS, fire her up, do the usual checks, etc..... and we're done!

Total materials and parts will be about $220 including tax - oops, make that $230 to include the 6 pack of Sam Adams for the Service Technician No special tools needed other than the Female Torx socket(s) and the M-B service DVD which although complex and a little unwieldy is a huge resource, I would not tackle the transmission and transfer case servicing without it or something similar.

Will report further tomorrow.
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post #2 of 52 (permalink) Old 07-10-2010, 03:38 PM Thread Starter
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Part 2: Job Complete!

Once my lovely wife grabbed the Torx E female socket set at Sears, the rest of this job went smoothly. Remove three of these bolts and the vibration damper comes off the back of the transfer case, exposing the "check plug" where the lubricant drips out when properly filled.

Getting to the filler plug at the top of the transfer case looked difficult with the flexible rubber "donut" still attached to the rear output shaft of the transfer case, so I went ahead and removed that - 3 bolts, easy to do. Then, the fill plug is easy to get to, and that plug, the check plug, and drain plug all pop loose with a metric hex drive. Not a lot of lube drains out, but that is to be expected, and it looks pretty good with no bad odors.

Once it all drains, install the lower plug, and use a small pump to get the new ATF up into the fill port at the top. The book says 0.6 liters to refill, and sure enough after letting it dribble from the check port for 2 minutes, and adding a bit to keep it dribbling, I button up the check plug and fill plug, and the M-B bottle says I have ~ 300 ml left. With the amount left in the pump tubing and the small amount that dribbled out during the refill, that looks right.

Button the vibration damper back on, then reinstall the motor mount, then the driveshaft and rubber donut, then the crossmember, then the heat shield behind same, and . . . all done.

Reset the FSS information on the dash, and all is good to go. Road test: everything is smooth, quiet, and drip-free. It turns out my car needs about 9 quarts of motor oil with an oil/filter change to get up to near the top of the dipstick range, rather than the 8.5 M-B calls out.

So, all in all, not too difficult a job - just time consuming when you haven't done any work on this car before. It was a good opportunity to check out suspension, brakes, etc. and get a good look at everything under the car. And I probably saved at least a few $$$$$ compared to a dealer service.
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post #3 of 52 (permalink) Old 07-11-2010, 10:57 AM
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You saved a ton of cash.

Did you check the ball joints and tie rod ends as well as other things like the CV boots?
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post #4 of 52 (permalink) Old 07-11-2010, 12:38 PM
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You not only saved a Ton of Cash, but you know the job was done Right!

But tell us how you added the Transmission oil back into the tranny since it has NO dip tube?

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post #5 of 52 (permalink) Old 07-11-2010, 02:18 PM Thread Starter
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Good Questions

Noodles, I did do a "visual and wiggle" test of the suspension in general, CV joint boots, etc., also pulled the Right Front wheel (per the DVD) and checked pads and rotor thickness/condition. So I think I gave it as thorough a look as a dealer tech probably would have..... Everything drives smooth, firm, and quiet up front so I am confident things are in good shape.

Unitfreebie, I popped the little cap assembly on the tranny tube, there actually IS a filler tube there, but it only comes up to about the bottom of the intake manifold (height-wise) above the bellhousing. So I "borrowed" a funnel from the kitchen, and used a short (~12") piece of clean fuel hose, and that allowed us to pour in the ATF very easily and with no mess or drips. I got a new "cap lock" pin from the dealer but found that the broken stub of the original one went back in and stayed in place just fine, so I used that one - my thinking is when I get the car in to the dealer soon for a couple warranty items (I have a headlight washer that won't spray, and a garage door opener that won't program even after doing the "tech bulletin" method), I will ask them to do the check with either the dipstick tool or whatever electronic method they might use. Then I can put the new cap lock pin in for good.

Any idea what this service would have cost at a dealer or good indie? I missed some work, so in that sense I guess it may have cost me a few billable hours that I did not log, but I would rather know what is going on with my car and be confident of what was done....
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post #6 of 52 (permalink) Old 07-11-2010, 09:52 PM
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Transmission fluid change can go up to $300 and the transfer case can be $200 depending on the dealer.

It is good to read that you did all the other checks. Lots of people don't and end up paying
big bucks when a part fails instead of being replaced when it is just wearing out.
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post #7 of 52 (permalink) Old 07-12-2010, 05:47 PM
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I'm confused. The manual and my mechanic both tell me the transmission fluid is lifetime, doesn't need to be changed. Please tell me what I'm missing.
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post #8 of 52 (permalink) Old 07-12-2010, 08:22 PM
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MB does not even go by that any more. Trans fluid should be done at least every
60k miles. I do mine at 40k intervals and I do a complete flush.

There was a time back in the late 90s they went for the sealed for life mumbo jumbo and
a lot of transmissions were needlessly tortured to a premature death. Since then the
service community that supports MBs including dealers are doing transmission fluid
changes and flushes on a routine basis.

Change the fluid. Use only the MB fluid or one that is specifically made for the 722.6
MB transmission.
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post #9 of 52 (permalink) Old 07-12-2010, 09:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by E500MM3 View Post
I'm confused. The manual and my mechanic both tell me the transmission fluid is lifetime, doesn't need to be changed. Please tell me what I'm missing.
That's an impossibility, that is unless you consider the lifetime of the transmission to be equal to that of the fluid.

Change the fluid every 30K, this is not based on speculation, conjecture or some sky is falling advice but actual fluid analysis!

Never let the wear metals get above 100ppm! When in doubt change the fluid every 30K.

Also replace the differential fluid at the same time, no filters back there so its like a lawnmower in that the flush is the only means to purge wear metals.

New trans = $8,000
New Diff = $1,500
New Transfer case = $3,000

Cheap advice for expensive components.
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post #10 of 52 (permalink) Old 07-15-2010, 09:00 AM
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Great advice, thanks! BTW, I've found some rebuilt trans for under 2 grand, 8 seems too high.
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