Burned Transmission Fluid 2018 CX-5 AWD

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2013 Mazda CX-5 Sport FWD Auto
All of the folks who are posting about how difficult it is to access this Mazda dipstick should actually be (very) thankful there is one at all.

I've also been living in the Kia/Hyundai world, where you check transmission fluid level on their newer vehicles by watching it run out of a 'check' port located on the side of the tranny case. You're supposed to decide when the fluid is running out in a 'thin, steady stream', and then hopefully be quick enough to replace the check port plug before too much more runs out. Now THAT is something to rant about, which I've done many times on those forums.

And although I agree that engineering/space constraints might have played a part in this dipstick design, I think it's also likely Mazda hid it away a bit to discourage easy access by the typical owner. This is very good reasoning on their part, because IMO only a dedicated DIYer will spend the time and effort it takes to get to the dipstick. And that increases the probability that this type of owner will also do the level check correctly (and possibly ATF change as well). A very well done compromise for the transmission dipstick by Mazda IMO, and I for one am very glad to have it.
For sure. I’m with you on the dipstick. My 19 RAV4 has the same system for checking ATF level that you describe for Kia/Hyundai. I won’t be changing that for a couple more years but it’s an odd procedure.
 
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2020 CX-5 AWD
… I find it difficult to believe that they would consistently fill less than they intend over years of production. ...
I've always believed what's posted above, not only for Mazda but for other automakers as well. I've read 'underfilled ATF' commentary on other auto forums, and have never believed that $25K++ vehicles with 50-100K mile powertrain warranties are being sold with impactfully low ATF levels.

I'm saying 'impactfully low', to distinguish from those cases where the fluid shows up as perhaps 1/4-1/2 below the MAX mark. 'Impactfully low' would mean a level that will cause transmission damage at some point in the future, if the fluid is not topped off.

I simply don't believe the automakers would allow this to happen, any more than they would improperly torque head bolts, or mess up any of the other countless things they need to do correctly, in order for the vehicle to operated well over the course of the warranty. Not saying that systemic issues don't happen, because we all know they do. Only that the automakers make every possible effort to avoid them, and it's just beyond my comprehension that they would not put the control in place to insure that all fluids are properly filled.

OTOH I do believe that some owners may not be checking the fluid level correctly, by following the exact steps specified in the owner's manual I know there are folks here and on other forums who are likely to insist they found a fluid level low and checked correctly, and will take issue with what I've written. To that I'll offer up that yes, it's POSSIBLE that a given fluid might be underfilled, and that one rare exception might be your vehicle.

I know there are a number of members here who have done low ATF posting, and I'm not saying this to butt heads with anyone. I'm no troll, and have no intention of participating in a big argument about this (or anything else for that matter). This is JMO on the subject, and anyone reading can take it or leave it FWIW.

I'll just add that I haven't gotten around yet to checking the fluid level on either of our CX-5, but will probably do it in the Spring. And if I find a low ATF level in either of them, I'll wipe the egg off my face, put on my flak jacket, and post back on this thread ;)
 
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2013 Mazda CX-5 Sport FWD Auto
I've always believed what's posted above, not only for Mazda but for other automakers as well. I've read 'underfilled ATF' commentary on other auto forums, and have never believed that $25K++ vehicles with 50-100K mile powertrain warranties are being sold with impactfully low ATF levels.

I'm saying 'impactfully low', to distinguish from those cases where the fluid shows up as perhaps 1/4-1/2 below the MAX mark. 'Impactfully low' would mean a level that will cause transmission damage at some point in the future, if the fluid is not topped off.

I simply don't believe the automakers would allow this to happen, any more than they would improperly torque head bolts, or mess up any of the other countless things they need to do correctly, in order for the vehicle to operated well over the course of the warranty. Not saying that systemic issues don't happen, because we all know they do. Only that the automakers make every possible effort to avoid them, and it's just beyond my comprehension that they would not put the control in place to insure that all fluids are properly filled.

OTOH I do believe that some owners may not be checking the fluid level correctly, by following the exact steps specified in the owner's manual I know there are folks here and on other forums who are likely to insist they found a fluid level low and checked correctly, and will take issue with what I've written. To that I'll offer up that yes, it's POSSIBLE that a given fluid might be underfilled, and that one rare exception might be your vehicle.

I know there are a number of members here who have done low ATF posting, and I'm not saying this to butt heads with anyone. I'm no troll, and have no intention of participating in a big argument about this (or anything else for that matter). This is JMO on the subject, and anyone reading can take it or leave it FWIW.

I'll just add that I haven't gotten around yet to checking the fluid level on either of our CX-5, but will probably do it in the Spring. And if I find a low ATF level in either of them, I'll wipe the egg off my face, put on my flak jacket, and post back on this thread ;)
I don’t believe the majority of folks are checking it incorrectly. You’re right on all other accounts tho. We’re all dancing around the same idea and I don’t think I’ve seen anybody suggest Mazda is risking the longevity of the vehicle based on fluid level. We’re simply reporting an observation: the level is below the specified line on the dipstick following the shop manual.

It absolutely comes filled at the minimum level required to operate as it should. I don’t think anybody is pushing a conspiracy there either. If that’s .25 quarts below published manual specs, that’s 25,000 quarts of transmission fluid saved per 100,000 vehicles produced. Another example?My CX-5 came with the coolant at the min level like many others. Filling it to max required about 1/2 quart of premixed coolant. Again, that saves the manufacturer 50,000 quarts of coolant per 100,000 produced.

But when you service it, I doubt you’re going to fill something below the min line or to the point where it can’t be read on the transmission dipstick like mine was. I think the observations shared are more a cautionary “don’t just add back in what you took out” warning.
 
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2018 CX-5 Sport
I've always believed what's posted above, not only for Mazda but for other automakers as well. I've read 'underfilled ATF' commentary on other auto forums, and have never believed that $25K++ vehicles with 50-100K mile powertrain warranties are being sold with impactfully low ATF levels.

I'm saying 'impactfully low', to distinguish from those cases where the fluid shows up as perhaps 1/4-1/2 below the MAX mark. 'Impactfully low' would mean a level that will cause transmission damage at some point in the future, if the fluid is not topped off.

I simply don't believe the automakers would allow this to happen, any more than they would improperly torque head bolts, or mess up any of the other countless things they need to do correctly, in order for the vehicle to operated well over the course of the warranty. Not saying that systemic issues don't happen, because we all know they do. Only that the automakers make every possible effort to avoid them, and it's just beyond my comprehension that they would not put the control in place to insure that all fluids are properly filled.

OTOH I do believe that some owners may not be checking the fluid level correctly, by following the exact steps specified in the owner's manual I know there are folks here and on other forums who are likely to insist they found a fluid level low and checked correctly, and will take issue with what I've written. To that I'll offer up that yes, it's POSSIBLE that a given fluid might be underfilled, and that one rare exception might be your vehicle.

I know there are a number of members here who have done low ATF posting, and I'm not saying this to butt heads with anyone. I'm no troll, and have no intention of participating in a big argument about this (or anything else for that matter). This is JMO on the subject, and anyone reading can take it or leave it FWIW.

I'll just add that I haven't gotten around yet to checking the fluid level on either of our CX-5, but will probably do it in the Spring. And if I find a low ATF level in either of them, I'll wipe the egg off my face, put on my flak jacket, and post back on this thread ;)
It isn't to debate, just make sure your fluid levels are correct. Many very capable people have found that the fluid levels are low from the factory.
 
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2020 CX-5 AWD
I'm curous to know if the car in question had a trailer hitch on it. If so, the AT could have been severely abused by over weight trailer or careless driving. ED
I hadn't considered a trailer, but that's certainly a possible reason for an overstressed transmission and burnt fluid.

What I did wonder about is the possibility of the OP's vehicle getting pushed too hard, before the ATF reaches an acceptable temp. And the part about travelling in those mountains makes that possibility much more likely IMO.

I've monitored ATF temp realtime on other vehicles, and it typically takes 25-30 minutes in warm weather for the fluid to reach the 190F or so spec operating temp. Not saying it takes 25 minutes in order for the tranny to be safe under high load, just that it certainly does not want to be stressed out right off the get go. Yes, there are built-ins which limit what the tranny will do, but there's only so much protection that can be done and an aggressive driver can probably force It way beyond what it wants to do.

So if someone living at the bottom of one of these big mountains, jumps in and takes off and pushes it up the hill with cold ATF every day, I imagine the tranny will wind up having significant problems, trying to do what the operator wants, even though it can't even come close.

Not saying that's what happened, because I obviously don't know. Only that a scenario like that would easily explain why the fluid was burnt. We're probably not going to hear back from the OP and, even if he does come back, there were other drivers of this vehicle with unknown driving history. So all just speculation, with probably no possible resolution.
 

Kedis82ZE8

'15 CX-5 GT AWD, '12 GX 460, '07 G35x
Contributor
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'15 CX-5 GT AWD
I tow with my CX-5 at times and while AT fluid didn't look pristine it was far from burnt when I changed mine in the past. I've found the CX-5 (at least in my '15) can always seem to keep AT temps down (OBD monitor) even when towing.
 

erhayes

Contributor
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CX5 Reserve
Or an idiot reving the engine to 5K in nuetral and dropping in to drive for max acceleration. Did anyone actually see the burnt ATF or was this a guess by smell?