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Old 05-13-2019, 03:44 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Transmission Temp

I’m new to towing, so this is a weak topic, but I’ve been searching and finding tons of different information.

I’m towing about 3,000lbs. with a 5.3l Tahoe. Transmission temperature this past weekend reached 217, when I was crawling along mountain roads in WV. The typical temperature heading down was about 170-190 changing with terrain.

On the way home it pretty much maintained 163 degrees.

My main concern is, is there a temp that is dangerously low for a DD? I want to install a trans cooler to help with slower towing up those mountains, but am finding all types of stuff online for low temps for transmissions.

We’re towing out to SD this summer and I’m dreading Chicago. I know it’s going to tax that transmission if I don’t add a cooler.

If it matters, this is the 6 speed, with 120,000 on the clock.

Thanks.
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:45 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Anything within 100 degrees of outside air temp is considered normal. I don't usually like to see them run under 100F or over 220F with my personal average between 120-180F.
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:48 AM   #3 (permalink)
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A factory gauge? New enough to be digital?
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Old 05-14-2019, 07:16 AM   #4 (permalink)
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It's really hard to over cool a transmission once it gets up to temperature. Getting it up to temperature is why it is recommended to run it through the factory radiator cooler first, then into an auxilary cooler. Down here in Texas where cold is a myth I run all my coolers straight and bypass the radiator, never had an issue, I do it mostly because I don't want anything else pulling cooling capacity from my radiator not because of fear it heating up the trans fluid too much before the aux cooler.
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Old 05-14-2019, 11:22 AM   #5 (permalink)
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A factory gauge? New enough to be digital?
Yes and yes, and I don't know how accurate they are. Probably not very.

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It's really hard to over cool a transmission once it gets up to temperature. Getting it up to temperature is why it is recommended to run it through the factory radiator cooler first, then into an auxilary cooler. Down here in Texas where cold is a myth I run all my coolers straight and bypass the radiator, never had an issue, I do it mostly because I don't want anything else pulling cooling capacity from my radiator not because of fear it heating up the trans fluid too much before the aux cooler.
That makes sense. I just know sometimes in the winter my truck's transmission temp is pretty low, even driving 20-30 miles. But it was really nice towing, because it never went over 170.
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Old 05-14-2019, 11:47 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Yes and yes, and I don't know how accurate they are. Probably not very.



That makes sense. I just know sometimes in the winter my truck's transmission temp is pretty low, even driving 20-30 miles. But it was really nice towing, because it never went over 170.
it's accurate.

217 is what would concern me, not 160. 160-80 is where I want it to be.
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Old 05-14-2019, 01:29 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I run 4 stage tranny cooling. 2 stacked plate coolers 2nd with temp controlled fan & 2 thermal bypass valves first right at tranny for warm up and 2nd between coolers, external filter on return. Does not run through rad. Been 9 years & has 400k on it, all it does is tow. Max temp ever seen flogging it 205f internal and 195f in pan.

http://www.improvedracing.com/oil-th...tat-p-423.html

https://www.magnefinefilters.com/Mag...lter-R012M.htm
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Old 05-14-2019, 01:47 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
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it's accurate.

217 is what would concern me, not 160. 160-80 is where I want it to be.
180-200 is even normal unloaded in 100*+ weather. 217 is pretty normal towing in hills even that load, if its going over 230 alot then you need a larger trans cooler.

Does it have the tow package with external trans cooler? Can look trough the grille and see. Also did you use tow/haul mode?
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Last edited by Bo185; 05-14-2019 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 05-14-2019, 02:02 PM   #9 (permalink)
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it's accurate.

217 is what would concern me, not 160. 160-80 is where I want it to be.
Yeah, the 217 had me concerned, because it was climbing, and only stopped because we stopped at our destination.

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I run 4 stage tranny cooling. 2 stacked plate coolers 2nd with temp controlled fan & 2 thermal bypass valves first right at tranny for warm up and 2nd between coolers, external filter on return. Does not run through rad. Been 9 years & has 400k on it, all it does is tow. Max temp ever seen flogging it 205f internal and 195f in pan.

High-Flow Transmission & Differential Fluid Thermostat FSM-145/165

https://www.magnefinefilters.com/Mag...lter-R012M.htm
I was thinking a temp controlled fan would be useful. I just drove my truck for about 45 minutes, unloaded, and it was running at 126 degrees with 50 degree air temp, which seems cool.

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180-200 is even normal unloaded in 100*+ weather. 217 is pretty normal towing in hills even that load, if its going over 230 alot then you need a larger trans cooler.

Does it have the tow package with external trans cooler? Can look trough the grille and see. Also did you use tow/haul mode?

It was almost 80 and humid, so I figured it would be a little higher. The 217 has me concerned, though.

It was the receiver, wiring, everything for towing, but I can't see a trans cooler in front of the rad. Maybe behind it?

I did use the tow/haul mode. Really awesome on this vehicle and helped going down the 8% grades at 80mph. Haha!
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Old 05-14-2019, 02:07 PM   #10 (permalink)
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i had an 05 tahoe with the 5.3 and used a scangauge with it.

Transmission in that was always 100+ ambient air when it was warm. it was uncanny how dead on it was.... got it to 225 a time or two from heavy long climbs (think 9% for 5+ miles with 7500 pounds behind it)

My new expedition shifts so many thousands of times better and that thing sits at 200F no matter what its doing no matter how hot or cold it is...
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Old 05-14-2019, 02:33 PM   #11 (permalink)
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i had an 05 tahoe with the 5.3 and used a scangauge with it.

Transmission in that was always 100+ ambient air when it was warm. it was uncanny how dead on it was.... got it to 225 a time or two from heavy long climbs (think 9% for 5+ miles with 7500 pounds behind it)

My new expedition shifts so many thousands of times better and that thing sits at 200F no matter what its doing no matter how hot or cold it is...
My shifting is smooth, no issues there.

Not sure if you've ever lived in the rust belt, but Fords fall apart here quicker than most. The Expedition is a nice ride, but they can't handle salt.
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Old 05-15-2019, 03:23 AM   #12 (permalink)
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My shifting is smooth, no issues there.

Not sure if you've ever lived in the rust belt, but Fords fall apart here quicker than most. The Expedition is a nice ride, but they can't handle salt.

Odd as that's complete opposite of what I see here in MN. Are you talking rockers specifically?




Regardless, that gauge is pretty accurate. I would be concerned also if I was pulling 3K pounds and my tranny got that hot. I would buy a cooler and change the fluid if you plan on keeping it.
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Old 05-15-2019, 07:04 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Odd as that's complete opposite of what I see here in MN. Are you talking rockers specifically?




Regardless, that gauge is pretty accurate. I would be concerned also if I was pulling 3K pounds and my tranny got that hot. I would buy a cooler and change the fluid if you plan on keeping it.
All the Ford here rot around the rear wheel wells. Like, all of them. Even my wife's 2010 Ford Escape started bubbling at 10,000 miles. Great drive train (other than garbage Triton motor), but they just don't hold up here.

That's what I'm going to do. Looking on e-trailer.com or whatever at their coolers. I'm also going to install the filter mentioned above.
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Old 05-16-2019, 12:17 PM   #14 (permalink)
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If you get in a spot where the torque converter is unlocked the trans temp will rocket up well above normal. I have no idea the strategy on a 5.3/six speed but if you have the ability to watch converter status see if it correlates to the high temps.
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Old 05-16-2019, 12:24 PM   #15 (permalink)
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In my experience with cooking fluids. You are better off adding fluid volume to reduce temperatures than just adding heat exchangers.
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Old 05-17-2019, 04:30 AM   #16 (permalink)
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In my experience with cooking fluids. You are better off adding fluid volume to reduce temperatures than just adding heat exchangers.
That's interesting, and I had thought of that before the trip, so I did add a qt. to the fluid. It was between the add and full line, and had a bubble on the dipstick. One quart eliminated that issue.

I'm going to have to look up where to re-route this exhaust to, and add a deeper trans pan. I have no idea why they tucked these exhausts right under the pan. It's a pain in the arse, though. Running true duals would be nice, but the driver's side of this Tahoe is packed full of stuff, and I'm not sure I want a pipe hanging below the cross member.

EDIT: Never mind, I see they make deep pans for stock exhaust locations. Sweet.

Last edited by FleshEater; 05-17-2019 at 05:42 AM.
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Old 05-17-2019, 07:51 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I'm going to have to look up where to re-route this exhaust to, and add a deeper trans pan. I have no idea why they tucked these exhausts right under the pan. It's a pain in the arse, though. Running true duals would be nice, but the driver's side of this Tahoe is packed full of stuff, and I'm not sure I want a pipe hanging below the cross member.

EDIT: Never mind, I see they make deep pans for stock exhaust locations. Sweet.

Moving the exhaust would also take away some of the heat and if you put a deeper pan on it that moves it closer to the exhaust it might negate any benefits.
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Old 05-17-2019, 08:03 AM   #18 (permalink)
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I know we're talking about a Chevy transmission here, and I'm kinda guessing a 6L80. But on the ambient +100 deg thing--doesn't it depend on the transmission make? I've never seen the 6L90 in my pickup over 200, and rarely over 180.

But the 6R140 in my small motorhome is almost always 210-220, towing or not. A bunch of people here told me that was normal for a 6R140, and to not sweat it...

Obviously we're talking about very different use cases. I just wanted to see if that ambient + 100* thing was supposed to be universal.
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Old 05-17-2019, 08:27 AM   #19 (permalink)
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In my experience with cooking fluids. You are better off adding fluid volume to reduce temperatures than just adding heat exchangers.
Iím sure youíve done way more of this than I have, but this doesnít make sense to me. If your engine is getting hot, you add a larger radiator, you donít upsize the overflow tank on the existing radiator. Iíve only added an auxiliary cooler to one transmission, but it worked like a charm. Why would more fluid volume help? Itís still taking the same temp delta, and the pan itself isnít doing much to cool...
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Old 05-17-2019, 10:02 AM   #20 (permalink)
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I’m sure you’ve done way more of this than I have, but this doesn’t make sense to me. If your engine is getting hot, you add a larger radiator, you don’t upsize the overflow tank on the existing radiator. I’ve only added an auxiliary cooler to one transmission, but it worked like a charm. Why would more fluid volume help? It’s still taking the same temp delta, and the pan itself isn’t doing much to cool...
"than JUST a heat exchanger".

I do think that adding an auxiliary cooler is a beneficial upgrade. But based on experience alone, adding a few quarts of additional capacity to the system seems to allow less heat soak. Or maybe it just keeps more of the fluid from being under load/work/doing stuff and thus additional time to cool back off before going into the system to do work again.

On my last truck, I added a transmission cooler from a 6.0 powerstroke. Between that and the 5/8 hoses I used, and a deep pan, I was able to increase the fluid capacity by over a gallon.

I'm not saying OP should be using just the stock cooler. I think he should use the stock cooler and an auxiliary cooler. But he would do himself a big favor to keep capacity in mind when making upgrades. If he can design some additional fluid into his upgrades he'll see a better result.

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Old 05-17-2019, 10:06 AM   #21 (permalink)
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I know we're talking about a Chevy transmission here, and I'm kinda guessing a 6L80. But on the ambient +100 deg thing--doesn't it depend on the transmission make? I've never seen the 6L90 in my pickup over 200, and rarely over 180.

But the 6R140 in my small motorhome is almost always 210-220, towing or not. A bunch of people here told me that was normal for a 6R140, and to not sweat it...

Obviously we're talking about very different use cases. I just wanted to see if that ambient + 100* thing was supposed to be universal.
You will find that different transmissions use different fluids for this reason. A lot of transmissions can be run pretty hot these days. They will use a Synthetic ATF if they are designed by the OEM to safely operate at those higher temperatures.
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Old 05-17-2019, 10:26 AM   #22 (permalink)
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There's a lot of information here I didn't know. I'm glad I asked. This is usually my go-to-forum for people who know their shit about shit.

Anyways, I remember Beat95YJ talking about a deeper tans pan on his Tahoe. It's definitely an upgrade I'm going to do. Might also wrap the exhaust in some heat tape to keep it cooler around the trans pan.

The more fluid makes sense if you think about it. Just think of it in terms of a stock set up not pulling. If the trans fluid is too low, it heats up, and that's when you pull the stick and find bubbles all over it. Fill her full, and it comes out nice and perfect. Probably because, like ActionFab said, it's more fluid in the system, so it allows a great cooling time for the fluid laying in the pan.

The other nice thing about the deeper pan is that it puts into more fresh air flow, rather than taking all the heat off the motor.
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Old 05-17-2019, 11:09 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Iím new to towing, so this is a weak topic, but Iíve been searching and finding tons of different information.

Iím towing about 3,000lbs. with a 5.3l Tahoe. Transmission temperature this past weekend reached 217, when I was crawling along mountain roads in WV.
Fan clutch.
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Old 05-27-2019, 07:37 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Got another newb question: when adding an aux cooler, do you splice into the upper or lower line? I was watching e-trailer.com videos, and they said the upper line is considered the return line, but diagrams I'm finding online say the lower line is the return/cool line.

Anyone know for certain which is which on these 6-speeds?
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Old 05-27-2019, 04:50 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Got another newb question: when adding an aux cooler, do you splice into the upper or lower line? I was watching e-trailer.com videos, and they said the upper line is considered the return line, but diagrams I'm finding online say the lower line is the return/cool line.

Anyone know for certain which is which on these 6-speeds?
The aux trans cooler stock is mounted right behind the grille. Can’t miss it. If its not there then that is you issue. Its lacking the tow cooler. Google gmt900 trans cooler install and read if yours isa 2007-2014.

You want the aux external cooler inline after the rad trans cooler. So rad trans cooler cools fluid first then aux cooler then to trans. This is how its done stock. This prevents over cooling.

Wrapping exhaust is retarded will rust your pipes way quicker.

The tahoe is 2005 newer is efans stock no fan clutch.
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Last edited by Bo185; 05-27-2019 at 04:51 PM.
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