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Question: 2002 Mazda Protégé 5 Transmission?

2003 Mazda Protege Transmissions

2003 Mazda Protege Transmissions

Question: Hi there, I have a 2002 Mazda Protégé 5. I am in Toronto, Canada and two weeks ago, I checked the automatic transmissions fluid and noticed that the color is not pinkish as it should be. It is orange/rusty. My car has 58,509 miles on it right now. The last time I “changed” the transmission fluid was 1½ years ago in December 2006 at 41,000 miles. The concern that I have is that the transmission fluid should not be orange/rusty given that I have not put on that many miles since it was last “changed”. However, having said that, there are two things to consider:

(1) From January 2006 to April 2006, my car was in Southern California and therefore, could it be that because California is very hot, the transmission fluid color changed? So the fluid oxidized faster.

(2) I am also concerned that maybe the mechanic did not change my transmission fluid in December 2006 when I had asked him to. The thing is, I had him do a few things such as transmission fluid change, change brakes, battery, etc and I am worried that in the process of him working on the other things that I requested, he forgot to change the transmission fluid. He is a private mechanic that works out of his garage so there is no formal checklist, etc. I didn’t check the transmission fluid after he “changed” it.

Given that the transmission fluid is orange/rusty, let’s go with rusty, it’s not dark, dark brown, but it is brown, would you recommend a flush? Or do you think it’s better to change the transmission fluid more? So I’ll change it this weekend and then change it again. Changing it once will clear the oil out 50%. And then changing it again clears it another 50% so 25%. And so on.

Dealers and mechanics say to flush. But that’s because they offer the flush. Whether they recommend the flush because it needs one or because they want to charge more, that’s another story.

Possibilities: I would be concerned about the color of the ATF as well. I doubt very much that being in California has anything to do with the color of the ATF. I mean I went to LA once and saw a woman walking a poodle that was dressed in a tuxedo.

The color description is important here, when I think of orange/rusty, I see orange/rusty. Dark brown I see dark brown and I see normal ATF as bright red.

Dark brown ATF, along with a burnt smell, indicates the transmission fluid is old and worn out. Normal ATF would be the bright red or dark red. Orange/rusty is not good and indicates that water may have gotten into the transmission.

It is possible the mechanic didn’t do a transmission service but that really wouldn’t account for the strange color either. What is possible is that either he put in the wrong ATF or somehow water got into the transmission.

You plan of doing the fluid replacement is a good one. I would do it at about 5,000-mile intervals until the color is correct and stays that way. I would also replace the transmission filter as well. It does have a replaceable filter. If you are so inclined, and have some basic tools you can even do it yourself, it’s not difficult.

The only ones who recommend a transmission, or engine flush for that matter, are the people who manufacture the flush machines and those who sell the service. Just because the Dealer recommends it doesn’t mean it’s endorsed by the manufacturer and is quite deceiving when they say it’s a recommended service. Remember:

No vehicle manufacturer in the world recommends an engine or transmission flush as a service, regular or otherwise. In fact several have issued bulletins specifically advising AGAINST it because of the potential for catastrophic engine or transmission damage and stating that new vehicle warranties will not cover damage done by these services and may be voided. GotTransmissions.com @ 866-320-1182.

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