[s-type] Changing the fluid in the 5R55N transmission

My 2000 Jaguar S-Type has the Ford 5R55N transmission, also used in
LincolnLS and some Ford Thunderbirds. Ford in their infinite wisdom
seems to think these things will never leak, so they did not
provide a dipstick. Thus the only way you can know if it is low is
to either wait until it starts misbehaving, or check it by
following this procedure.
Here are some instructions for those who wish to do this job
themselves.

Tools you will need:
8mm Allen hex for filler plug on back of tailcase
T30 Torx for standpipe plug
7/8’’ or 22mm box end for drain plug
18mm box end for turning engine crankshaft
4mm Allen hex for torque converter
5 gallon bucket or big drain pan
7.5 quarts Mercon V transmission fluid
8 ft length of 3/8’’ ID clear Tygon tubing

You need to get the car up high, like on a safe lift or tall sturdy
jack stands, or drive it over a pit. Not just the front end on
ramps, because it must be LEVEL. High enough and sturdy enough that
you feel safe getting under it with the engine running.
The filler plug is at the back of the rear extension housing to the
right of the driveshaft. Remove the filler plug using the 8mm Allen
hex. There is a rubber sealant on the threads.
Start the engine and let the trans oil warm up to 100F or 36C.
Leave the engine running.
Place the pan under the drain plug.
The outer drain plug is actually a stand pipe inside the pan. The
correct level of fluid is to the top of this stand pipe with the
engine running.
Unlike an engine, the trans fluid level is checked with the engine
running so the fluid is at its lowest level condition.
Remove the inner drain plug using the T30 Torx. There is a rubber
sealant on the threads. You may have to hold the outer drain plug
using the 7/8’’ or 22mm box end.
If oil pours out the stand pipe, it was too full. If nothing comes
out, and you only want to fill it, proceed to the filling step.
DRAINING
If you want to change all the fluid, shut the engine off.
Remove the outer drain plug using the 7/8’’ or 22mm box end. About
3.5 quarts will drain out here. Replace the rubber o-ring on the
plug.
Pry out the 1.5’’ 38mm diameter rubber plug in the bottom of the
bell housing for access to the torque convertor drain plug.
Turn the engine over with the 18mm box end on the front end of the
crankshaft until you see the torque convertor drain plug through
the access hole. Remove the 18mm wrench now so you won’t forget.
Remove the torque convertor drain plug using the 4mm Allen hex.
About 4 quarts will drain out here. Replace the rubber o-ring on
the plug.
If you are changing the filter and/or gasket, remove the pan now.
Check the pan sealing face for flatness. Sometimes the bolt holes
are dimpled out from overtightening, so hammer them back down level.
After the oil has pretty well drained, replace the torque convertor
drain plug, rubber cover plug, filter, gasket, pan, outer drain
plug and inner plug.
FILLING will be in part 2 of this message.–
XK120 FHC, Mark V saloon, XJ12L Series II, S-Type 3.0
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In reply to a message from Rob Reilly sent Sat 10 Apr 2010:

Part 2
FILLING
Remove the cap from one Mercon V quart container. Drill a hole in
the cap somewhat smaller than the tubing, a nice round hole. Insert
the free end of the tubing into the cap about an inch. It should
fit tightly in the hole.
Feed the other end of the 3/8’’ Tygon tubing over the exhaust heat
shield and into the filler hole in the trans. Screw the cap back on
the bottle.
Hold the bottle up by the door, higher than the trans, turn it
upside down, and squeeze the bottle. Watch the oil flow into the
trans. To empty the bottle, you will have to turn it right side up
and unscrew the cap a bit to allow air in a few times. There are
pumps on the market that fit these quart bottles if you don’t care
to squeeze them.
After you have 5 or 6 quarts in it, start the engine.
Let it run a few minutes to let the oil warm up and get pumped into
the torque convertor.
Now you can remove the inner drain plug with the T30 Torx.
With the engine running, keep adding fluid until it runs out the
inner drain plug.
Shift the trans through all the gears, including the J-gate manual
positions.
Add more fluid until it runs out the stand pipe.
Replace the inner drain plug with the T30 Torx.
Remove the Tygon tubing and replace the filler plug with the 8mm
Allen hex.
Shut off the engine, and let the car down.

These words are stamped into the bottom of the pan:
‘‘Fluid check - run engine until fluid flow from inner plug stops.
Add Mercon V at extension housing until fluid flow resumes.’’

These words are found on the back of the extension housing by the
filler plug:
‘‘Check at 100F 36C engine idling in park, use Mercon V.’’

My total cost was about $30 US for 8 quarts of Mercon V.
Rob Reilly–
XK120 FHC, Mark V saloon, XJ12L Series II, S-Type 3.0
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In reply to a message from Rob Reilly sent Sat 10 Apr 2010:

Is there a an O-ring seal or something on the drain or fill
plugs that could leak? And is there a breather tube coming
down on from the front of the gear box or what the heck is
that rubber hose in front of the gear box that has a drop
of red fluid every now and then… It had spat out some red
fluid from there in the summer after I had had the gearbox
fluid changed in the past winter. Messed up the bottom of
the car and almost got the car rejected in the annual road
worthiness checkup (or what ever ya englishtypes call it).
I’m pretty sure it’s not coolant, I’ve seen my share of
hydraulic fluid.

A weird thing about the gearbox oil change is that when
I took my jag to the dealership for the gearbox fluid
change, they insisted that the fluid had to be cool when
changed so they stood the car for 4 hours (charging me from
every minute) in the garage and waited it to cool before
they did anything. Then they changed the fluids in about 20
minutes after that. I’ve read the service manuals and I’m
pretty sure they don’t specify the temperature of the fluid
when it’s drained. Howcome it’s so much simpler changing
the fluid in a Ford pickup with the same gearbox than a Jag
S-type…?

My cost was over $80 PER quart of Mercon V in the
dealership… Never taking my car back there again, I’ll
rather let it rust in the ditch.–
S-Jagger
Rovaniemi, Finland
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In reply to a message from S-Jagger sent Fri 16 Apr 2010:

Wow, $80 a quart, sounds like you really got hosed by that
dealer. Do your environmentalcase cops really throw you in
the klink for dripping oil?
Red is certainly trans fluid, and there are a few sensors on
top that are sealed with o-rings. I did not see a rubber
breather hose on mine, but all trannys should have a
breather somewhere near the top. If it burped fluid out the
breather it was way too full.
The fill and drain plugs have either an o-ring or sealant on
them as I mentioned. A leak there should be easy to see.
Mine leaks a tiny bit from the rear output shaft seal.
The Jaguar Service Bulletin S307-03 says the trans temp
should be between 80-120F, ideally 100F when reading it on
their Datalogger. Target temp is 90F when putting the car on
the lift.
Maybe if yours was low on fluid beforehand then the oil temp
would be too high?
But if they filled it cold, or worse yet filled it up to the
filler plug, it would expand and burp out the breather.–
XK120 FHC, Mark V saloon, XJ12L Series II, S-Type 3.0
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In reply to a message from Rob Reilly sent Mon 19 Apr 2010:

Yeah, the enviro-cops are that dicks. I’ve read that 5R55N
fluid change a million times from my Jag Service Manual and I
cannot comprehend the time they used on it. I bet I can
change the oil in 30 minutes with their equipment. It’s just
a two layer filler plug. Screw out the outer layer and it’ll
drain the fluid. Screw out the inner plug and there’s the
fluid level tube ready, just fill the box until the fluid
flows from the inner drain plug. Remove any trapped air from
the gearbox and check fluid level. I wish I had a garage
since it’s really NOT that difficult!
Want difficult? Then try to do the same to an airplane
hydraulic system! (I’ve done it…)–
S-Jagger
Rovaniemi, Finland
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In reply to a message from S-Jagger sent Fri 4 Jun 2010:

Makes me wonder if it was a clerical typing mistake and you
were charged for ‘‘change transmission’’ rather than ‘‘change
transmission fluid’’?
Or 10.0 hours rather than 1.0 hours, or 140 liters rather
than 14 liters?
Like the time I needed a box of 100 screws and our
purchasing agent ordered 100 boxes of 100.–
XK120 FHC, Mark V saloon, XJ12L Series II, S-Type 3.0
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In reply to a message from Rob Reilly sent Mon 19 Apr 2010:

I would like to add two comments to this excellent resource.

First, if you need to replace the drain plug because the
tube plug is frozen or damaged, the item is available from a
Ford dealership for about $15. The Jag dealer wanted over $100.

Second, there is a good description of the fluid level check
procedure at


. I would emphasize that you not wait until the fluid stops
coming out of the tube before you reinsert the plug. Fluid
will continue to come out for quite some time in pulses. I
recommend that you reinsert the plug as soon as the stream
changes substantially. The linked instruction says ‘‘as soon
as the stream starts to break into drips.’’ That is
ambiguous. When you think about it, the stream should be
solid until the level is close to the height of the tube,
then it will change. I did an experiment with a tube in
bottle to confirm the fact that there is no change until the
top of the tube is reached. If the fluid were still, then
waiting for the diminishing stream to begin to drip would
work, but it is not still.–
Steve Chatman
Davis, CA, United States
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In reply to a message from Steve Chatman sent Sun 25 Mar 2012:

Thank you, Steve.
Here is a link to the original posting.

The service bulletin in the other link mentions pink fluid
in the overfilled condition. This is fluid that has been
churned up by the spinning trans because the level is too
high and has gotten millions of tiny air bubbles in it, i.e.
foamy. After you drain off some of the excess, they want you
to let it settle out for awhile so the air bubbles have time
to pop. Then the fluid will be red again. But at that point
it may be too low, so you may need to add some more back in.–
XK120 FHC, Mark V saloon, XJ12L Series II, S-Type 3.0
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In reply to a message from Rob Reilly sent Mon 26 Mar 2012:

I need to make a correction to my earlier post where I was
overly concerned about fluid level and offer an observation.

There are two seals on tubes protruding from the top of the
filter. I managed to misshape one during installation or it
came that way. Whichever was the case, it caused
inconsistent and peculiar transmission behavior that changed
with fluid temperature and it caused the fluid to pulse in
the pan and continue to flow down the overfill tube. When I
refitted the filter with a new seal, the fluid fill and
level check processes became very simple.

The observation that I would like to offer concerns the
proper temperature for the transmission fluid when filling.
I read the range several times before it finally sunk in
that they were talking about summer temperatures here in
Sacramento. The target is 100 degrees F with a plus or minus
20 degree range. This is important because it is far below
normal operating temperature. In fact, you will need to
hurry to finish before it warms too much. I measured the
temperature of the pan. If that would be misleading, please
let me know.

And, of course, these notes are about the 5r55n Ford
transmission used on early S Types.–
Steve Chatman
Davis, CA, United States
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In reply to a message from Rob Reilly sent Mon 19 Apr 2010:

I usually do most stuff myself, but this looked a bit hard
with only low ramps,(great write up…) so I took it to a
local trans shop for an oil change and cable adjust…$430!
its sealed for life now! DEX3 synthetic went in it at $23.33
per liter according to the bill…

Trying to sell me a new cable installed for $800, but I
think I can live with it supposedly not having any
adjustment left…–
99 S type ,94 HD 2.0l S&S
Sydney NSW, Australia
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