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Dexron 3 ATF fluid in plow. Now sluggish. Additive or flush?

Discussion in 'Western Plows Discussion' started by horizon jay, Jan 3, 2014.

  1. horizon jay

    horizon jay Member
    Messages: 99

    I was told by the local western dealer here to use ATF Dexron 3 in my plow, instead of driving the 30 miles to buy theirs. A buddy of mine has "theirs" and it literally looks & smells like atf in a big jug. Our temps usually dont go below 0 ever or at least rarely. Today its 1* and next week a high of -5 (which is new to us in Indiana : ) . Any way lo and behold my plow is running slow & sluggish today. My question is this: Is there an additive to put in it now to prevent this or do i need to flush and refill with some -50 fluid? The answer seems obvious however as i said, the western fluid a buddy bought looks and smells like mine. Are they mixing it with heet or diesel 911 stuff or am I way off? Does anyone know the mix or make there own? Any help is appreciated! Thanks!!
     
  2. dieselss

    dieselss PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,983

    Get the blue plow fluid and use that from now on.
    What plow is this your talking about
     
  3. horizon jay

    horizon jay Member
    Messages: 99

    Will do thanks! Its a 2011 pro plus. When I bought it, it had 32awg hydo in it so I changed it. Now im gonna change it again lol.
     
  4. dieselss

    dieselss PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,983

    Ultra mounts need plow fluid. Aftermarket blue is just fine
     
  5. horizon jay

    horizon jay Member
    Messages: 99

    Does brand of fluid matter? I've found sno way an Meyer locally .
     
  6. johnhenry1933

    johnhenry1933 Senior Member
    Messages: 256

    No. ATF is good to 0' (if you're lucky). Blue is good for another 10 or 20 degrees.
     
  7. horizon jay

    horizon jay Member
    Messages: 99

    What do u use? Just looked at plow and it ha frozen tranny fluid on it. Hoping it just purged out of top breather but not sure yet ...
     
  8. johnhenry1933

    johnhenry1933 Senior Member
    Messages: 256

    ATF. But I have also just fully purged my system including rams, hoses, manifold, reservoir, and bottom of reservoir where mounting block bolts for lift ram. That little divet was solid ice with contamination.

    It ran beautifully yesterday, but it was just 11'.
     
  9. horizon jay

    horizon jay Member
    Messages: 99

    Nice. Mine ran like a champ yesterday similar temps. Today it didn't want to move this morning but it moves freely now at 7'. A guy that owns largest fleet in town said ATF in western. So not sure what to do lol .maybe I'll try what u did. Thanks!
     
  10. johnhenry1933

    johnhenry1933 Senior Member
    Messages: 256

    Well, I had a pesky contamination problem that took a while to identify. I flushed the hoses and rams, and then the reservoir and manifold (including the cartridges and other valves), and the problem reappeared after a couple of hours of plowing. It was only then I dismantled the lift ram finding the seals had eroded because a minor divet (not burr). Apparently, the pressure exerted on the seals caused it to migrate into the minor divet, causing them to fail (after four years!).

    Solution? A complete dismantling and flushing (the first time I had to replace the manifold because we could not clear one or two orifices), new ram and seal set. Works beautifully now. But also know this is a fifteen year old (5 spring) unimount. It was probably time for a major overhaul. I now love my Unimounts again!
     
  11. dieselss

    dieselss PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,983

    Any blue fluid Is fine. New Westerns don't like atf as your finding out. I'll say again, plow hydraulic fluid only in ultramounts.
     
  12. mishnick

    mishnick 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,243

    Keep in mind that transmission fluid is for auto transmissions which run constantly and "warm up" where as plow fluid never warms up. ATF is generally modified 10 weight oil which gets very thick when cold. Proper blue plow fluid is actually aircraft grade hydraulic oil which is highly modified to give it very stable viscosity over a very wide range of temperatures. It remains thin and fluid even at minus 50 degrees. Tick to the proper fluid and leave the ATF for your transmission.
     
  13. birddseedd

    birddseedd PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,516

    good till -50
     
  14. drp

    drp Senior Member
    from ontario
    Messages: 170

    10% gas line antifreeze in ATF is what we used to run in the cable units. Worked fine to -30C.
     
  15. mishnick

    mishnick 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,243

    If u ever try that in a new plow bet that your warranty will b void. Isn't using the fluid chosen by the engineers who designed the plow a better bet? Next we will b using chicken fat diluted with Pepsi in leu of engine oil! Maybe on Giligan's island but why use ATF and methyl hydrate when there is plow fluid.
     
  16. drp

    drp Senior Member
    from ontario
    Messages: 170

    it was cheap, redally available, and recommended by the dealer at the time(late 80's early 90's)
     
  17. mishnick

    mishnick 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,243

    Times have certainly changed. Can't imagine a dealer recommending that today. But in a pinch that's good to know.
     
  18. horizon jay

    horizon jay Member
    Messages: 99

    We got hammered last week with snow. Plowed 4 days in a row due to high winds and drifting. (I slept in between but not nearly enough). I blew a line in -45* wind chill and luckily I had a spare which I nearly got frostbite changing out :mechanic:. My fingertip was numb for 2 hrs! Swapped it out and plow was frozen the next day. I thought it was the fluid (ams oil ATF). Then I realized the elbow was loose and had been leaking where hose attaches. When I dropped lifting ram down to service plow I believe I damaged hose and loosened elbow. My hose blew without hitting anything that i can recall. You would think it would be something major that you wouldnt forget to blow a line. Needless to say my plow works now and is full of Boss Snow plow fluid! Thanks to all! And after talking with different dealers about the fluid you were right dieselss! Thanks for the input I appreciate it!
     
  19. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,992

    Cable units have HUGE gates compared to the ports in electric over hydraulic pumps, ATF was fine in the cable pumps but today's units are a whole different animal. Premium plow fluid will draw less amps, and operate faster.


    Cable controls will run well with premium plow fluid, they will draw less amps and be faster though it's not as great a difference as electric valves
     
  20. birddseedd

    birddseedd PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,516

    we were at about - 5 plus or minus a little. -35 windchill.

    Thats where i started noticing my cable with atf got real slow. actually bought a new cable thinking it was bad. it wasnt. as it warmed up the plow started working again.

    i cant afford more plow fluid, so im going to flush it with hydro fluid. not as good as the blue plow fluid (-50), but much better than atf.

    To be honest, unless you live in a place that gets below 10 degrees often, i dont think plow fluid would really be neccessary over hydro fluid. best way to know, the bottle should say at what temp its good until. compare that temp to your local weather conditions.

    or buy a plow that doesnt leak :realmad:

    :jester: