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Old 02-02-2009, 12:58 PM   #1
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type of oils

Hey, I recently purchased an international with the dt360, and we're going to flush the oil, tranny, and diff fluids. Is there a standard opinion on what the best type of fluid to use on these is? Should I go with synthetic? Any idea how much I will need of each?

Thanks.
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Old 02-02-2009, 06:00 PM   #2
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Re: type of oils


For motor oil, first you need to make sure you are buying oil for DIESEL engines.
Then you decide between regular "dinosaur" oil like Shell Rotella T, available in many auto parts stores; or synthetic, which you may have to go to a big-rig dealer to buy. Synthetic is better, and costs a lot more.

For the tranny, I'm guessing you have an automatic, which is probably the Allison AT545. Could also be the MT643. Either way, the "dino" fluid is called Dexron, but we need to wait for somebody else to tell us what number Dexron is correct -- could be Dexron III (3), but I'm not sure. There is also a synthetic auto tranny fluid, and it is called Trans-synd or something close to that. You will probably have to go to a big-rig dealer for that. Again, it is better, and costs a lot more.

If you read somewhere that the AT545 can use motor oil... forget it. That was a "clever solution" some years ago, but turned out to cause new problems.

Not sure about rear end, but others will be along shortly, I'm sure.
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Old 02-02-2009, 06:32 PM   #3
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Re: type of oils

Dexron III is fine...the trans probably calls for Dexron II, but they're all backwards-compatible. HOWEVER! Some Allisons use regular engine oil! This one may have been converted.
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Old 02-02-2009, 07:38 PM   #4
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Re: type of oils


Some Allison AT545s are indeed running around with a very specific type of motor oil in them -- a seldom used NON-detergent oil, if I remember right.
I did a bit of research on this, with help from Kevin, who sometimes appears in these pages, when I had a 545, and here is what I learned:

Since the AT545 does not have a locking torque converter, people were looking for a fluid that would act "stiffer" and reduce torque converter slippage, but still function adequately in the transmission otherwise. (Torque converter slippage being THE great heat generator, and energy waster, in an automatic tranny.) The "solution" was this obscure type of motor oil. This recommendation still appears all over the internet.

But then, when I asked the parts counter man at a local big-rig dealer, he told me that this motor oil thing had been discredited and the only acceptable upgrade was synthetic ATF, such as Trans-Synd. Now, I do realize that his job is to sell the most expensive product, but I'm pretty sure he was just being helpful -- my trucking employer buys tons of parts there and they have even given me free (shelf worn) parts.

Next, I bought Millicent, and I had a nice long talk with one of the Bus Barn mechanics. Same answer. After a while, the motor oil would cause sticking in the valve body, if I remember right.

You might want to identify your tranny. There should be an ID plate on the passenger side, down close to the pan. Or find my Tranny ID thread -- probably under Everything Else.

Now identify the fluid that is in it. A few drops on the dipstick should be enough. ATF is a transparent red. If you find a brown or black liquid, you will want to circulate some extra new fluid thru it until there is none of the gunk or motor oil left. You can do that by running the engine with the spin-on tranny filter removed -- and a bucket under it.

Most buses seem to have the external spin-on tranny filter. Definitely change that, and maybe change it again once in a while. Allisons are reportedly finnicky about clean fluid.
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Old 02-02-2009, 08:42 PM   #5
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Re: type of oils

My Allison owner's manual for the AT and MT series lists a TON of acceptable fluids, surprisingly. It really seems that if the fluid is the result of a decaying dinosaur they were ok with you putting it in the transmission, BUT there were strict guidelines as to what operating conditions you could use what fluid in and various precautions such as preheating the transmission in cold weather for up to half an hour before use if you chose to use 15W40 in it.

Dexron III is easily the cheapest and most widely available fluid and just so happens to be the most universally recommended fluid type I have seen for these transmissions. You could run synthetic if you wanted, but beware. I just changed a filter and didn't drain the cooler lines or converter and I still needed nearly 4 gallons to fill the transmission back up. That's A LOT of money if you're going synthetic. I prefer to just run dino fluid knowing that Allison recommends draining it at 25,000 miles under normal school bus use (stop-start-stop-start).

As for engine oil, I'm a big fan of Mobil Clean 5000 and Rotella in gas engines, but Elliot is right. You need to get an oil that carries a "CI" rating meaning compression ignition. Now some oils (such as Rotella) will meat both spark ignition and compression ignition sopecifications, but that's not necessarily always true. My bus has Valvoline (complete with a big Cummins endorsement on the bottle) in it because it was the cheapest I could get at the time. Don't skimp unnecessarily on the fluid, but you don't need to be running liquid gold in it either.

My differential is filled with cheap Carquest 80w90. I believe Carquest branded oil is supplied by Ashland Inc. making it Valvoline by a different name.

As for my power steering...well...my bus leaks it pretty bad and I just haven't gotten around to fixing it so I just run the same cheap Dexron III ATF in that as well. ATF actually has some properties that make it a little better as a power steering fluid in my book and coincidently it has proven to be cheaper for me. Toyota caught on a long time ago as MANY of their vehicles utilize ATF (Dex III) for the power steering fluid. If nothing else it means I only need to carry spare oil and spare tranny fluid to cover a couple of different needs.
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Old 02-07-2009, 08:20 AM   #6
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Re: type of oils

Quote:
Some Allison AT545s are indeed running around with a very specific type of motor oil in them -- a seldom used NON-detergent oil, if I remember right.
The 545's in two buses (1999 chassis IH 3800's, 190HP T444E engines) at my old job ran over 100K with 10W-30 oil in them (converted when new). They were still running it (~110-125K miles) when I left the company. The third IH 3800 had a rebuilt trans (same drivetrain, but was a 1997 bought with over 250K...about 315K when I left the company, probably close to 400K by now), and ran Dexron. We had 2 other 545's (behind Cummins B's in Freightliner-chassis shuttles) that also ran Dexron.
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Old 02-13-2009, 10:16 PM   #7
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Re: type of oils

I verified that my transmission is in fact the 545 and have decided to go synthetic all around. Any specifics of which synthetics I should get? Also, are there any good places online to order this stuff?
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Old 02-13-2009, 10:31 PM   #8
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Re: type of oils

I've heard that the synthetic oil is thinner and more likely to make leaks more evident. I've never done it myself, so take that with a grain of salt. I ran Rotella 15w40 in all my diesels and farm and lawn equipment because thats what I learned when I was working on the farm. We had old equipment that ran great. But...anecdotal evidence is oftentimes not worth the breath used to say it.

Does anybody know what was needed to convert an Allison transmission to run on regular motor oil?
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Old 02-13-2009, 10:56 PM   #9
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Re: type of oils

Quote:
Originally Posted by fireguy9993
Does anybody know what was needed to convert an Allison transmission to run on regular motor oil?
A large budget for transmission repair!
I make most of my living driving trash trucks, all of which have Allison transmissions. A few years ago, the company I work for decided to go the motor-oil route. We were told that the transmission shop used special clutches, designed to work with motor oil, when they built the transmissions. They performed poorly, especially in cold weather, and lasted about 3 or 4 months. Now, we didn't use any kind of special motor oil, just the same 15W40 we used in the engines: that may have been part of the problem. In any case, the company now uses nothing but Trans-Synd, and the trannies work a lot better and last a lot longer.
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