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Old 03-13-2016, 08:46 AM   #1
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E450 Transmission Fluid Analysis

Our 2011 Sunseeker 3100 on a 2010 Ford E450 chassis now has 40,000 miles on it. During about 90% of those miles is has been towing a Pathfinder. With the toad, its contents, motorhome contents including full gas and fresh water tank, we’re close to the rated combined gross vehicle weight rating nearly all the time. We travel all over the country, driving on hilly terrain and on two lane mountain roads, so the transmission gets a workout.

I sent a transmission fluid sample to Blackstone Labs to get an idea of the transmission’s condition. In the comments section of their sample label I noted the towing service and asked their recommendation for changing the fluid.

I was quite pleased with their report. Their report is not simply a list of the findings, but a discussion of what it means. They stated the fluid showed wear typically seen for that transmission at 30,000 miles, so it is doing quite well. They said the “insoluble solids” was at their recommended upper limit, and said it would be cleared up by changing the fluid. I’ll do that before our next trip.

I did not send a sample of the engine oil, since it had recently been changed and an analysis would be meaningless – unless a failure is imminent, of course!

The analysis cost of $28 plus a few dollars for postage was well worth it for peace of mind.

As a side issue, there’s been lots of discussion in this forum about using or not using Ford's tow/haul feature. When the feature is engaged, it shifts sooner when grades increase, which reduces the load on the transmission and lets the engine develop the needed power at a higher rpm (and thereby lower internal loads). I don’t use it uphill, preferring to back off on the accelerator to reduce shifting when it is practical. I use it on downgrades because it gives very good engine braking. Many say that using tow/haul is better for the transmission and engine. I do not disagree with that position at all, but it appears that my way of driving isn’t too rough on the transmission.

I attached the analysis report for those who are interested. Their website is http://www.blackstone-labs.com/.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf E450 Trans Fluid Analysis Mar 2016.pdf (809.6 KB, 31 views)
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Old 03-13-2016, 08:02 PM   #2
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Good news.
You know how to drive these units.
There is an art (and feel) to shifting correctly and at the correct time.
I manually shift on hilly terrain and let the computer do it in stop and go and flats.
I will probably do my tranny fluid sooner than you did (probably 15-20k) but I am probably a little more anal than you with my stuff.
Just got back from a no-tow trip in my Chevy and got 10.6 mpg just cruising- enjoying the beautiful (and green for a change) central coast area of Calif.
A pretty pleasant drive.
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Old 03-13-2016, 08:10 PM   #3
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I'd like to manually shift, too, but the Ford 5 speed trans shift quadrant does not have a selection for 4. Many times I have wanted to hold it in 4 but can't, like when it's in 4, it shifts to 5, but you can see it will have to shift back to 4 almost immediately.
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Old 04-22-2016, 10:01 AM   #4
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Just add a 5 star tune to Your Ford 450 and you will never look back , your RV will run like it has another 50 HP. And will climb those hills. We added this last year traveled through the Rockies and that a change in performance.
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Old 04-22-2016, 10:16 AM   #5
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I see where Total Loss states his mpgs as being around 10.5 not towing. Question is, RamblerGuy, what's your mpgs with towing your load?

We just got a 2017 3010DS and DW is curious - I told her that now wasn't the time to worry about it!
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Old 04-22-2016, 02:59 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by DaGrinch View Post
I see where Total Loss states his mpgs as being around 10.5 not towing. Question is, RamblerGuy, what's your mpgs with towing your load?

We just got a 2017 3010DS and DW is curious - I told her that now wasn't the time to worry about it!

Keep in mind that total loss is driving a different unit than you are. We just completed a 4000 mile road trip this month and my mileage varied between 6 to 10.2 mpg going no faster than 65. Keep in mind that wind and speed are a big factor. I am towing a 2012 Ford Focus also with my 3010ds 2014.
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Old 04-22-2016, 04:15 PM   #7
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We get around 8 mph while towing our Pathfinder, which weighs about 4000 pounds as we load it. I drive 55 to 60 mph when I can.

For budget purposes, use 7 mpg and be happy if you do better. We're just happy that gasoline is not $3.50 per gallon like it was for most of the years since we bought our Sunseeker.
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Old 04-22-2016, 06:06 PM   #8
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I suppose everyone caught my typo courtesy of autocorrect that we get 8 mpg, not 8 mph.
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