Still not sure on this whole auto thing, but the truck is now pushing 96k kms, so I thought it might be time to change the funny red magic syrup before I throw some summertime towing (in the mountains) at the poor thing...
Fluid type? Well, this one is controversial...LOL. Some propose that mitu's auto fluid is some sort of mysterious elixir, and if not used you can say goodbye to your transmission. Others say Dexron II is fine, and of course there are proponents for synth fluid, as well as naysayers, etc...
The manual (for the 3.5, which also uses the V4AW3), says DexII or equivalent, and the drain plug says DexII.
But of course you can't get Dex II at most places anymore. It has been superseded by DIII, etc. They are currently on Dex 5 or 6, and its just getting silly. After consultation with my parts guy, I went with a Shell DexIII. I'm using synth Rotella engine oil, and its been good, so why not go yellow all 'round?
Err... I mean red.
Got the trans up to temp, shut off the rattler, and pulled the drain plug on the transmission sump, (14mm socket). About 5L came out, and then I refilled through the dipstick hole using a pour spout screwed onto the 4L jug of new fluid. Added a little more, got it up to temp again, rechecked, added a little more, took it for a drive, and rechecked again. In a few days I'll repeat the process again. Might even do it a third time?
What came out had a slight brown tinge to it, compared to the new stuff. Shifting hasn't been quite as crisp lately as when I first got it, esp off the line, but scientific-seat-of-the-pants-analysis says the shifting has improved with the fluid change. We'll see how it is after another change.
All in all, if you don't mind changing it a few times to get it all out, its a pretty easy job (despite having to add fluid through the dipstick tube) to change your own fluid this way. I want to keep this mystical piece of technology happy so it will continue to do its magic, while I sit back with one hand on the wheel and continue to reach for a non-existent clutch and shifter.