2012 Mazda BT 50 Transmission

Submitted: Tuesday, Nov 05, 2013 at 21:20
ThreadID: 105003 Views:20286 Replies:7 FollowUps:12
This Thread has been Archived
Just after peoples thought on auto transmission temperatures when towing. Manufacturers say the transmissions should be fine..perhaps they last long enough till the vehicle is out of warranty. Transmission oil changes not necessary they say.
Are there people measuring ATT with gadgets like Scangauge?. I have been watching the ATT past few months in the BT 50 towing a 2.8t van. My tow vehicle has done 20000 km of which about 6000 kms towing the van.
My observations are that the ATT are about 10-15 degC above the radiator temp (or wherever the Scangauge measures the water temp). Most of these temps are towing when the weather is 20-30 deg C on mainly flat terrain. Last weekend I was towing thru hilly country with outside temps about 20 deg C and was particularly concerned to see ATT max out at 107 deg C.
I don't drive hard. The BT 50 is a fantastic tow vehicle and I use the auto in S mode with the max gear 5th. I have decided to book in for an after market transmission cooler and oil change next week as I don't believe these ATT are healthy for the transmission long term.
Even if the Scangauge temp readings are not accurate I am worried that ATT is much higher than the water temps. I have also read that transmission temps are better in the 90deg C range for longevity of transmission and synthetic oils.
Interesting that everyone talks about changing engine oil at 5000 km intervals when towing but never much mention about auto transmission oil changes in all these new tow vehicles.
Would be great to hear everyones thoughts esp BT50 owners
Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Ross M - Tuesday, Nov 05, 2013 at 21:50

Tuesday, Nov 05, 2013 at 21:50
G'day Ian
Most vehicles are made with enough reserve cooling capacity to cover most of the normal situations, however it seems, like many people, it is easy to begin to go past the ability of the vehicles cooling performance.
A 30-40 degree day, we have them in OZ, and also uphill will quickly raise the temp of the auto past what you have experienced. I agree, not good.

When a hot day & the engine is working towing the weight behind it must be bearing the normal running ability of the cooling system. With the auto dumping more than normal heat quantity into the bottom of the radiator it is heating the radiator water.
If the engine has already brought the heat at the bottom of the radiator to a critical level then there isn't any insurance room to cater for the load/auto heat factor and a sudden overheat can happen. That means a means an additional cooler is essential.

The hot fluid leaving the auto is best cooled before it gets to the radiator so the volume of heat isn't going to try and overheat the already "working hard" engine cooling system.
Because the auto fluid is hottest as it leaves the auto, it has the highest differential to the ambient and so the cooler placed there will dissipate the most heat if it is in a suitable airflow.

I think the oil subjected to high temps does need to be changed more often than makers say.
On another forum, Recently one Mazda dealer happliy sold fluid to a customer in 1 litre bottles at $46 a bottle. Another member had changed his fluid and he paid $21/L for the same stuff, so beware and do homework before paying for auto fluid for these.

Ross M
AnswerID: 520912

Follow Up By: Stevesub1 - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 08:28

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 08:28
An aftermarket oil cooler fitted by a professional does not cost a lot but may affect the warranty on the vehicle. Do Mazda have one as an option? I had a cooler fitted to a Commodore after the transmission was cooked while towing horse floats, never had a problem after that.
FollowupID: 801521

Follow Up By: Ross M - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 11:59

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 11:59
Even a cooler fitted by an unprofessional person would still be OK as it too will cool the system.
The majority of coolers fitted are done by owners and enthusiasts.
The volume of the cooler and additional lines should be allowed for and a top up in the Auto if it is a significant volume.

To fit one after the horse has bolted is not very effective way of approaching the issue..
FollowupID: 801545

Follow Up By: Ron N - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 13:05

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 13:05
A mate had a tranny cooler professionally fitted to his Falcon wagon transmission in W.A., and he drove to N.S.W. towing a van. He got to Deniliquin and the transmission burnt out.
He then found one of the hoses fitted during the transmission cooler installation was only retained by a cheap hoseclip - and it hadn't been tightened properly, and it was leaking all the way from W.A. to N.S.W.
The transmission ran out of oil and it was toast.
He got a payout under warranty, but he won't be using those "professional installers" again!
FollowupID: 801551

Follow Up By: snow - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 14:07

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 14:07
Not having a shot at yer mate by any means but on longer runs I tend to give the vehicle a quick check over before leaving and during stops.
FollowupID: 801556

Follow Up By: Ross M - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 14:10

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 14:10
Ron N
"ZACHARY" the point I was making. Everyone is trained from birth to think the so called professionals of the industry ARE, and many ARE not.

The person fitting it wouldn't be the most qualified in the shop. It can happen but is rarely the case.
FollowupID: 801557

Follow Up By: Ron N - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 14:33

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 14:33
Snow - Yep, I don't understand how he never spotted the leak, he's a farmer and familiar with machinery. I guess we can put it down to being in "holiday mode!"

Ross - the problem - as you probably well know, is that most workshops operate with a number of "donkeys", and a couple of "professionals" in charge. The "simple" jobs get handed to the "donkeys".
If the "professionals" fail to supervise efficiently, and check the donkeys workmanship, then problems are sure to follow.

We've got a local Holden dealer where an attractive teenage girl I know well, used to work. She gave plenty of insight into the dealer workshop operations.
The workshop staff indulged in plenty of dope-smoking in company time, watching porn and playing games on computers, and sexually harrassing the girls that came through the workshop.
The workshop manager was ineffective and incompetent, and did nothing to shake up the workshop environment.
She left because she couldn't cope with the entire ugly setup and the constant harrassment.
I'll wager her story is not an isolated one.
FollowupID: 801559

Reply By: Ron N - Tuesday, Nov 05, 2013 at 22:07

Tuesday, Nov 05, 2013 at 22:07
This has been previously discussed. 107 deg C (225 deg F) is approaching the temperature where potential transmission damage is likely if that temperature is sustained or exceeded.


The problem with these new transmissions is high temperatures will melt the plastics in the insulation on the transmission solenoids and wiring, resulting in transmission failure.

Manufacturers use the minimal amount of oil in their designs, that they believe can satisfactorily perform the job. Too often, that amount of oil is inadequate, particularly when extended periods of towing or high temperatures (or both) are encountered.

Anything you can do that increases the oil capacity of the transmission, as well as increasing the heat dissipation from the oil, will help enormously with transmission life.

Many auto transmissions specify no oil changes for the life of the transmission. I personally believe 100,000km transmission oil changes are a good way to extend auto transmission life.

AnswerID: 520913

Follow Up By: Member - bbuzz (NSW) - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 09:17

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 09:17
I service my transmission every 12 months. Have done in every auto I have owned including cars.

From new there will be fine metal shavings which is the auto running in, just like what's in a new car's sump. The filter in the auto needs to be flushed.

If you follow manufacturers recommendations, you will replace the diff oils and the brake fluid at regular intervals. They get hot and attract moisture and dust.

Why not the transmission?

Bill B

My Profile  Send Message

FollowupID: 801526

Follow Up By: Member - bbuzz (NSW) - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 09:19

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 09:19
Most manufacturers, if not all, have a towing pack which includes an oil cooler. Many vehicles these days have one as standard.

Bill B

My Profile  Send Message

FollowupID: 801527

Reply By: Member - Scooby (WA) - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 13:06

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 13:06
Hi iijmartin,
I have been monitoring trans temp with a Scangauge 2 on my 2012 DMax. The cooler I had fitted is large, approx 300mm x 300mm and has a thermostat controlled fan with an override switch in the cab. I can't give you temps before fitting the trans cooler as I did not have the Scangauge. My observations towing a one tonne camper trailer at speeds up to 105 kl/hr to Darwin and back via the Gibb River Rd are as follows. At a steady 100 k/hr on flat roads air temp around 30 degrees the trans temp is 55 to 60 degrees C. If I am doing slow work the temp starts sneaking up, I hit the fan switch at about 65 degrees and the temp starts to fall almost immediately. Time will tell how the trans life is effected, maybe it is running too cool?
AnswerID: 520942

Follow Up By: Ross M - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 14:20

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 14:20
In winter you may have to partially cover the cooler so the temp isn't drawn down too far. The auto will like to see a reduction in viscosity because of the heat of operation and will tend to change differently if too cold.
In winter the bottom of the radiator is cold and so auto temp cannot be pre warmed either.
Some vehicles will not select overdrive until a predetermined temp has been reached and the fluid can flow through solenoids quick enough to operate as the auto box was designed to.
Our Corolla won't select 4th or lockup until it has warmed past a certain temp. It just blocks it out and retains 3rd until.
Temps up to 80C is quite ok and cooler isn't necessarily better. It is the additional cooling capacity to prevent the high temps being reached which is important to have for temp control.

Too cold and moisture build up in the fluid will happen.

FollowupID: 801558

Reply By: Neil - ACT - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 15:01

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 15:01
Hi Ian and Kathleen,

We have a 2012 Ford Ranger (3.2 litre auto), so same engine/transmission as the BT50.

We have just returned from a 5-month "big lap of Oz", where we travelled 22,000kms towing a 2.7 tonne caravan. Overall fuel consumption was 16 litres/100kms.

We fitted a ScanguageII before the trip, and used it to constantly monitor the engine water temperature, the auto transmission temperature and turbo boost. We tow in 4th gear sports mode, unless going downhill (5th sports mode), or going uphill (sports auto mode). Below are our observations of temperatures:

- not towing: water temperature in range 89 - 92, auto temperature in range 96 - 99
- towing: water temperature in range 89 - 94, auto temperature in range 99 - 104
- turbo boost towing never exceeded 20.

We have observed that if we tow in 5th sports mode, the auto temperature will rise to 104, and want to keep going upwards, while the water temperature will typically be at the lower end of the above temperature range. Changing back to 4th sports will result in the temperature dropping back into the above range. We will slow down as required (eg uphill) to keep the auto temperature at or below 104.

We have tried unsuccessfully with 4 Ford dealers and the Ford Customer Service to find out the safe upper temperature for the auto transmission temperature. The best we could get (from one dealer) was - "keep it below 110, and you should be right". Not very reassuring!!!

We have not been able to keep a definitive quotation to have an after-market transmission cooler fitted. The "ballpark estimates" have ranged from $900 to $1350. One auto transmission specialist said he would not be prepared to fit an aftermarket cooler, due to the way Ford has designed/fitted the standard heat exchanger (note - it is not a transmission cooler in the traditional sense).

So, where are we at? We will keep driving the way we have been until:

- we can get a definitive answer to the question of safe maximum auto temperature
- we can get information from a number of Ranger/BT50 owners who have successfully fitted an after-market cooler, and used it without problems for a goodly period of time
- we can get a more reasonable, definitive quotation to have an after-market cooler fitted.

By the way, we choose to tow in 4th sports mode, as the "general wisdom" is that it is not wise to tow (and particularly tow heavy loads) in an overdrive gear. 5th and 6th in the Ranger/BT50 are overdrive gears.

AnswerID: 520951

Follow Up By: Member - iijmartin - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 20:23

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 20:23
Thanks muchly Neil for your information.
Your Scangauge figures are nearly exactly the same for my BT 50. I did get concerned when I was towing thru the hills probably down to S3 and say 60 km when ATT maxed at 107 deg C.
I have a quote for "best" quality trans cooler fitted for about $515 and service/oil change transmission $385. I was offered a deeper transmission pan with an extra 3L oil capacity for another $463.
Will post ATT on my next trip after the cooler is fitted.
My transmission guy did not mention any problems with fitting to the BT 50. He did say that they had seen most overheating problems in the latest model auto Hiluxes.
It seems that some people towing vans just assume that the standard transmission will handle the extra stress/heat. The manufacturers advice is always non commital/warranty voiding tactics.
FollowupID: 801581

Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 17:03

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 17:03
I'm guessing its the same as the 6speed Landcruiser - the TFT's drop once the torque converter locks. In the Landcruiser it locks more quickly in S5 or quicker again in S4. Maybe towing in S4 is what you need to do.
Also I think 107 degrees is nothing dramatic - mine gets to that just by driving the south east freeway out of Adelaide and not towing.
AnswerID: 520962

Reply By: Mark - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 19:37

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 19:37
I stuffed my ZF gearbox at 120k after sand driving and towing with the stock cooler. The trouble is once you overheat the fluid the lifespan of the fluid is greatly reduced due to oxidisation. I would never buy a vehicle that had a 'sealed for life' gearbox for this reason.
Have a look at this chart that shows how quickly you can oxidise the fluid if you overheat the gearbox.

I've since fitted a larger cooler and full synthetic fluid, so far so good!

AnswerID: 520979

Follow Up By: Isuzumu - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 21:47

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 21:47
What is your vehicle and what were you towing?
I have to go to a full reply
FollowupID: 801592

Follow Up By: Mark - Thursday, Nov 07, 2013 at 12:56

Thursday, Nov 07, 2013 at 12:56
Landrover Disco 1 300TDI with Ultimate camper in tow (1000kg).
Put a cooler from a Range Rover P38 in and 3 times the size of the stock cooler.

FollowupID: 801637

Reply By: Isuzumu - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 21:58

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2013 at 21:58
Sounds like you are all very worried about the tow capacity of your vehicles (autos) if the manufacturer say that the vehicle has a 3500Kg towing cspacity then if the trans has a problem it would be a warranty job. If you do not have trust in your vehicle then get reed of it and get a D.Max. Our has now done 43K in 13 months towing the camper (1400Kg) and around 6Ks towing the 2500K van and not one problem.
AnswerID: 520993

Sponsored Links