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There are conflicting accounts out there about flushing the 6-speed automatics used on the V8 and 3.2 XC90's, and a photographed how-to seems to be lacking, so I figured I'd put one together since I just finished this procedure on my 2007 XC90 V8 with about 100k miles. Although this is not a required maintenance procedure according to the owner's manual, I think most would agree that flushing the fluid every 20-30k miles is a wise decision. Note that there may be other methods of performing the flush (such as using a BG machine or draining the oil cooler and/or transmission first). I make no claims that this is THE way to go about the process, but this is what worked for me. Obviously, if you choose to follow what I did, you are accepting all risk for yourself and your vehicle.

That said, here's what you'll need:

12-14 quarts ATF (genuine Volvo, Mobil 3309, or Toyota T-IV--see discussions elsewhere for info on these and other options, e.g. Redline)
Transmission funnel
T-55 torx bit
T-25 torx driver
8mm socket
3-4 empty gallon milk jugs, marked at 2-quart intervals
Shop towels--you'll have some spillage
Trans cooler line seals/clip (ipd clip and o-rings)
Trans flush hose (ipd kit here w/ 3/4" OD hose)
(NOTE: if you buy the ipd trans flush kit, it comes with the green clip and 2 o-rings already)

Total time required: about 1 hour or less

Start by driving your vehicle until the transmission fluid is warm. In my opinion it does not need to be at full operating temperature, as this will be more likely dangerous and could throw off volume measurements of the old (hot) fluid vs the new (cold) fluid.

Park on a level surface, firmly apply the parking brake.

Open the hood and pull off the black plastic cover over the air filter box (2-3 clips hold it on), which should leave you with this:


Optional: remove the 2 screws holding the cold air duct to the radiator support (8mm socket) and remove the duct (for better access to the trans line, which you'll need later on).

At this point you need to access the transmission fill plug, which is located on the top of the transmission, below the airbox. There are multiple ways to access this. I decided to loosen the 5 T-25 torx screws that secure the upper and lower halves of the airbox (the screws you loosen to change the filter--visible as already loosened in the photo above), then I removed the lower half of the airbox--including the filter--from the engine bay. It's held on by one plastic nut along the fender, which just pops on and off. You'll need to start and stop the engine during the flush, so I didn't want to bother with disconnecting any electronics such as the MAF. I ended up running the engine without the air filter during the flush, but you're talking about a cumulative run time of less than 5 minutes, so I wasn't worried. I suppose if you live in a dusty environment, you might want to try a different procedure.

Once you have access under the airbox, identify the fill plug and use your T-55 bit to remove it:


Once the plug has been removed, set it aside and snake your transmission funnel down into the opening. Make sure whatever you have left of the airbox (e.g. the top half) is reasonably secure (reconnect any electrical connections you might have unclipped).


With the funnel now in place, turn your attention to the transmission fluid lines at the oil cooler (driver's side of the radiator). You're looking for the upper connection, as seen here (note that the retaining clip on mine had already disintegrated--I was glad I already had a replacement on hand):


Depress both sides of the clip to remove the line from the oil cooler--no tools are needed (though I had to use a small screwdriver on mine, since the clip was partially broken). As you pull the line out of the cooler, some fluid will dribble out, so be prepared with your shop towels and possibly a catch pan under the radiator. This is what you're removing:


Once you've removed the transmission line, you now want to insert your plastic hose. I used the 3/4" OD hose from an old ipd flush kit that I bought 7 or 8 years ago for my 850 Turbo. On that car, the in and out lines of the cooler were flip flopped, so the hose went over the male end of the line going into the top of the cooler. On P2 cars, however, I've found that you can insert the hose into the female port of the cooler output, which is the upper connection on these cars (where you just removed the cooler line). I don't think the ipd kit is technically designed for this, but I've found that it works perfectly on both my 2001 S60 T5 and my 2007 XC90 V8. I suppose you could add some tape to secure the hose (you certainly wouldn't want it to come out during the flush), but that's never been a problem for me. Another option would be to remove the lower line at the cooler (the input) and connect the hose to the male end of that line. However, I think you'd want to be prepared to catch all the fluid that would then come out of the cooler (and you would still need a way to flush the cooler itself). In any event, on the XC90 the fluid goes into the cooler at the bottom and out at the top, so plan your strategy accordingly, even if you're just going out and buying your own hose.

Here's my setup:


Route the hose into one of your milk jugs:


Begin flushing! Start the engine (trans in P) and fluid will begin being pumped out through the hose, into the milk jug. In my experience, it takes about 20-30 seconds to pump out two quarts. Don't rev the engine. I like to hop in the car, apply the brake, and move the shifter through P, R, N, and D, but I'm not even sure if that's helpful. What is helpful is to have an assistant watch the jug from outside the car and tell you when you've reached the 2-quart mark. At that point, shut off the engine and add two quarts of fresh ATF through your funnel (note how black the fluid is that's sitting in the hose--bottom left of the photo--that's why we've got to flush these bad boys!):


Repeat this process, two quarts at a time (changing milk jugs as needed), until you've used all 12 quarts or more of your fresh ATF. Remove your hose from the cooler (be prepared--some fluid may spill when you do so) and insert the line from the trans, having replaced the o-rings and the clip. Remove your funnel and replace the fill plug, then reattach the airbox, airbox cover, and the cold air duct. You're done! Just remember to properly recycle the old fluid.

Optional: Confirm Fluid Level
If you're certain you're replaced the exact amount of fluid that you extracted from the transmission, you can probably get away without checking the fluid level (which is unique because there's no dipstick). If you think you might have miscalculated on the fluid, put in a little extra before refitting the fill plug. The procedure for checking/setting the fluid level involves bringing the fluid to a specific temp (50-60 C I think), which you might need a DICE to monitor. Then you open the smaller plug within the drain plug (unsure on size) and let fluid run out until it just dribbles. If the temp is in range, you should be right on target. If no fluid comes out when you open the level plug, you need to add more.

Optional: Reset Trans Fluid Counter
If you have a DICE unit, you may also choose to reset the computer's transmission fluid counter back to zero. I'm not sure how to do this or what it actually affects, but some might find this step profitable.

Happy flushing! Comments and corrections welcome.
 

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Excellent! I wonder if 12 qts is enough for a good turnover of fluid. Whatever the fluid "volume" of the tranny is, ... I would use 150% of that number as my target volume of new oil to be used. If one did this procedure every 30K miles ... that would be super-good. (I would lazy-up and feel good for doing it at twice that mileage). The (dis)coloration of the fluid is a good DIY indicator... and sending a sample of fluid drainage to Blackstone Labs would really cover the bases even more.
 

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Many thanks for the write up, I think it will serve others here very well!

That said, unless you really are changing it every 20-30K miles I think you're better off not changing it, or only changing it as a last ditch effort to fix a problematic transmission.
Fact is, there are many of these now with 150-200K miles on their original fluid still working fine.

I would really only advocate for the frequent rather than never change is if you're doing lots of towing or track days or something else that will cause a transmission to run significantly hotter than usual.
 

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Great write up! Photos are a great touch! However, I was thinking... I saw a .pdf from the alldata program showing a drain plug at the bottom side of the transmission. Im thinking of draining the fluid (cold) from there and measuring it once its out. Then put the exact amount back in from the fill plug. Seems to me taking out hot fluid at 2 qts and puting in cold fluid at 2 qts wouldn't be as accurate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Great write up! Photos are a great touch! However, I was thinking... I saw a .pdf from the alldata program showing a drain plug at the bottom side of the transmission. Im thinking of draining the fluid (cold) from there and measuring it once its out. Then put the exact amount back in from the fill plug. Seems to me taking out hot fluid at 2 qts and puting in cold fluid at 2 qts wouldn't be as accurate.
Yes, some owners like to do a series of drain-and-fills. Keep in mind that you will only drain a portion of the fluid through the plug. All the fluid in the torque converter and so on will not come out. However, it you did a series of 3 or so drain-and-fills you'd probably end up in with the same flush result. I just think doing it through the oil cooler is faster and even less messy. It's the method promoted by Ipd for most FWD/AWD Volvos.

FYI, I marked my milk jugs where the fluid came up to when I was flushing (the fluid being warm). I checked them again when the fluid had cooled completely and the level was the same (and the jug did not seem to have contracted or buckled). As long as you don't get the fluid full hot before the flush, I think the volume differences will be inconsequential.
 

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I would do exactly as OP outlined ... except I would add draining at the drain plug on each drain/refill "cycle". And I would overfill by a quart, or two, on each drain/refill "cycle"... until the last refill "cycle". This would speed up the entire process and make the fluid turn-over more complete.

As long as you keep up with all fluid added (cold measure) ... and keep up with all fluid drained, you can wait until the drained fluid cools (cold measure) for your final new/old volume comparison. I think it is best to also add additional checking at the drain plug as prescribed by VIDA/DICE.
 

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thanks for taking the time to post this.it will help me drain my trans when the weather is warmer her in montreal. I have close to150,000 kms on the xc and will do a flush. my question is what size the hose to drain.

thanks brian
 

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I would do exactly as OP outlined ... except I would add draining at the drain plug on each drain/refill "cycle". And I would overfill by a quart, or two, on each drain/refill "cycle"... until the last refill "cycle". This would speed up the entire process and make the fluid turn-over more complete.

As long as you keep up with all fluid added (cold measure) ... and keep up with all fluid drained, you can wait until the drained fluid cools (cold measure) for your final new/old volume comparison. I think it is best to also add additional checking at the drain plug as prescribed by VIDA/DICE.
,

I agree. Vida suggest draining from the drain plug. It doesnt specify how much fluid is supposed to be drained but it suggest refilling 4 liters after draining. I drained 2.5 liters and refill with 4 liters. From there, I pumped out 2 lters from the upper rad cooler hose connector and refilled 2 liters and kept on going until its bright red. I used a total of 16 liters.

To my surprise, hot pumped out fluid is totally way off from the cold new fluid. I found this out the hard way when I was doing the "Oil Level check". When the oil temp reaches 50 deg celcius using Vida, I opened the integrated level plug. Nothing was coming out. I waited until the pumped out fluid cooled off and re measured. And cross referenced to what I have left with the new fluid. The pumped out fluid is 1 liter short. I ended up pouring another 1.5 liter on the filler hole. Only about .5 liter came out..
 

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I know that this is likely to start a flame war, but that is not my intent. I just did a drain an fill on my 01 XC70 (original transmission, for those who don't know the 01 and 00 XC70 had more transmission issues than the T6 XC90). This time I used the Volvo fluid. In the past I have used toyota IV and Mobil 3309, the Volvo fluid definitely improved the harshness between the 1-2 and 2-3 up-shifts. It is not completely smooth but the transmission is shifting a lot smoother than it has since I have owned the car. So while type IV and 3309 and the Volvo fluid are all compatible (i.e. will not damage the transmission), there is something different about the Volvo fluid (other than the price and the bottle). I have 13L of the Volvo fluid left. If things work out well this weekend, I will be doing a flush on the XC90. I'll report my observations.
 

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I would really only advocate for the frequent rather than never change is if you're doing lots of towing or track days or something else that will cause a transmission to run significantly hotter than usual.
Like my wife...
Her dad, who happens to be a COP, taught her how to drive. For her there are only two positions for the right foot, fully depressing the accelerator or fully depressing the brake.
 

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This is a fabulous write-up. I'm in the process of building a how-to sticky for this forum, and this will definitely be going in there. I can attest to flushing prolonging the lives of the transmissions in both of my V8s.
 

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Hello Guys,

Checking this DYI Flush, I was thinking on doing things different.

Instead of removing the air box to gain access to remove the torx fill plug in the transmission, I will connect a hose with a funnel to the return line that have the green clip and then I will fill the new ATF from there.

Check the pic I found on the web, so you get an idea of what I am thinking I will do.

BTW, I have a 2007 XC90 3.2L AWD with TF-80SC Gearbox.

Any advice

THX,

Isaac



 

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Excellent! I wonder if 12 qts is enough for a good turnover of fluid. Whatever the fluid "volume" of the tranny is, ... I would use 150% of that number as my target volume of new oil to be used. If one did this procedure every 30K miles ... that would be super-good. (I would lazy-up and feel good for doing it at twice that mileage). The (dis)coloration of the fluid is a good DIY indicator... and sending a sample of fluid drainage to Blackstone Labs would really cover the bases even more.
Per https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AWTF-80_SC, capacity is 8 liters but assume that does not include cooler capacity. Still, 12 quarts ought to do it reasonably well...
 

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Thanks guys. Intend in doing my 2007 xc90 v8 in the comming weeks. Just purchased it and done about 5000km highway driving then towing about 500km after fitting towbar. It's done 105,000km now. Want a clean slate. Not sure other than regular volvo services what it story is. Thanks again love your work.


Anthony bossy
 

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Forgot to mention, I recommend someone with VIDA check for the official refill procedure, on the S60R full was to the level of the smaller drain plug, then add like 0.6L or something like that. I'd check but no would have to find my VIDA disc (the computer it was installed on died)
 

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Remove filler plug (Torx 55).
Suspend a filler syringe or a hose with funnel in the filler hole.

Start the engine.

Note! Leave the engine running during the entire check.
Note! The following measure must be carried out quickly to avoid overheating the fluid.

Run through all the positions between P and D on the gear selector. Stop at each position for at least 2 seconds. Perform this process twice.

Place the gear selector in position P.

Raise the vehicle and place a receptacle under the gearbox.
While the engine is running, remove the integrated level plug (Torx 40).
If there is no transmission fluid coming out of the level plug hole, top up until it starts to drop.

Fit the integrated level plug (Torx 40) by hand. Reuse the old O-ring.

Switch off the engine.

To prevent the temperature exceeding the measuring interval in the next measure, top up with 0.5 litre transmission fluid

Fit the filler plug (Torx 55). Use a new O-ring. Moisten the new O-ring with transmission fluid and tighten
 
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