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My 2004 SES recently showed this warning light after driving about 20 highway miles - no other symptoms. I checked fluid level and found it very low; filled w/Mercon V into hatched area per instruction manual. No issues until a few days ago, when it showed the same warning on a 1.5 hr highway trip.

I bought this car used at 102K and it now has 192K. I haven't changed the trans fluid or filter, & don't know the car's previous history. The fluid on the dipstick doesn't look black or smell bad. Car shifts well and shows no trans issues besides the warning light.

After this latest incident I got zero codes listed when checked with my Bluetooth OBD-II reader.

Questions:

Could a clogged trans filter, by itself, trigger the warning light?
Do trans codes show only on a pro-level OBD-II reader, or can I trust my reader's output?
Should I have the pan dropped and replace fluid/filter ASAP, then continue to replace more fluid every few thousand miles?

Any other advice?
 

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Are you sure your scan tool will read tranny related codes (P07xx, P08xx, P17xx, P18xx)? Some cheaper scan tools wont.

Filter is likely in sad shape. Ford recommends fluid change every 30K miles. Your mileage is over six times that. I would drop the pan, change the filter, and refill to full, and repeat again a time or 2 every few hundred miles as a pan drop only gets about 50% of the old fluid out. Or use the tranny pump to pump out all the old fluid, drop pan, replace filter and refill. this method is explained somewhere on this site, and is also in the Ford service manuals. DO NOT get a power flush!!!!!

Using either method is an easy but somewhat messy DIY project only requiring basic hand tools. Use ONLY Mercon V fluid.
 

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Thanks for these tips! Can you recommend a good pump that will work through the filler tube?

The one I have is a cheap Harbor Freight hand pump and it works great
 

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^+1 on the pan drop/filter change. Walmart shopping list: Sterilite clear under-the bed storage tub large enough to hold the tranny pan to use as a drain pan, couple rolls of Scott's blue paper shop towels, couple cans of brake cleaner and 8 qts. of Supertech Mercon V atf. Clean/reuse the oem pan gasket, clean magnet and pan with brake cleaner and towels. Grab a filter from a parts store or Rockauto online. I initially add 6 qts. of atf and top off with 1/2 to 1 pint increments as needed. I remove the 19 8mm pan bolts with 3/8"dr. ratchet/socket. I replace with 1/4"dr. ratchet /socket. Also, with the leftover atf, you can grab a cheap turkey baster from Wallyworld and suck the ps reservoir empty and refill with fresh atf. 2 birds with 1 stone, lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Torque spec?

Thanks Sheila for this wrap-up and cost-saving tips! Checking out other threads here I see you're one of the xmission experts, so really appreciate your insights.

>>Do you have the ft/lb torque spec for retightening the pan bolts? I haven't found that listed on TCCA yet, and don't have a shop manual. Thanks!

^+1 on the pan drop/filter change. Walmart shopping list: Sterilite clear under-the bed storage tub large enough to hold the tranny pan to use as a drain pan, couple rolls of Scott's blue paper shop towels, couple cans of brake cleaner and 8 qts. of Supertech Mercon V atf. Clean/reuse the oem pan gasket, clean magnet and pan with brake cleaner and towels. Grab a filter from a parts store or Rockauto online. I initially add 6 qts. of atf and top off with 1/2 to 1 pint increments as needed. I remove the 19 8mm pan bolts with 3/8"dr. ratchet/socket. I replace with 1/4"dr. ratchet /socket. Also, with the leftover atf, you can grab a cheap turkey baster from Wallyworld and suck the ps reservoir empty and refill with fresh atf. 2 birds with 1 stone, lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Digging through this car's maintenance records, I see I didn't notice one page that came with the car - it shows the trans had a complete (16 qts) fluid replacement/flush & filter change at 96K (nearly 100k ago).

I feel a bit better - only 3 pan drops behind! ;-D Buying supplies now for a pan drop/filter change ASAP.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks! Should I apply anything to the bolt threads before tightening them - Mercon fluid, Loc-Tite, anti-seize? (In a Toyota forum I read that Toyota specifically recommends using Loc-Tite-type additive, so thought I'd ask.)

^ 106 in./lbs. I just snug/tighten them with a 1/4" ratchet and 8mm socket in a star pattern.
 

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^ No. Maybe clean them up with a wire brush, brake cleaner and a shop towel if needed. I usually spray 'em real good in a small tray/cup and let 'em soak while busy elsewhere. After cleaning/installing the filter, magnet, pan gasket and pan, I start the bolts by hand and then tighten them in a star pattern evenly with my 1/4"dr. ratchet and 8mm socket. May use a short extension or deepwell socket. Only thing I use a torque wrench on are head bolts. Important: check to see if the filter neck gasket came out with the old filter! If not (usually doesn't), get a small slotted screwdriver and carefully "vee" the gasket up inside the tranny tube and then pull out with needle-nose pliers. Be careful not to nick/mar the soft aluminum tranny tube. New orange/green filter neck gasket should come installed on the new filter. Slather it with fresh atf prior to pushing the filter into place. Those ring-sized gaskets are rubber-coated aluminum.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks again - you're gold! :D
^ No. Maybe clean them up with a wire brush, brake cleaner and a shop towel if needed. I usually spray 'em real good in a small tray/cup and let 'em soak while busy elsewhere. After cleaning/installing the filter, magnet, pan gasket and pan, I start the bolts by hand and then tighten them in a star pattern evenly with my 1/4"dr. ratchet and 8mm socket. May use a short extension or deepwell socket. Only thing I use a torque wrench on are head bolts. Important: check to see if the filter neck gasket came out with the old filter! If not (usually doesn't), get a small slotted screwdriver and carefully "vee" the gasket up inside the tranny tube and then pull out with needle-nose pliers. Be careful not to nick the soft aluminum tranny tube. New orange/green filter neck gasket should come installed on the new filter. Slather it with fresh atf prior to pushing the filter into place. Those ring-sized gaskets are rubber-coated aluminum.
 
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