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CD4E Oil change (Mondeo Mk1/2/3)

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The Ford Mondeo hit our roads in 1993, and has consistently been a sales success. Now on its 4th incarnation, it remains a drivers favourite.
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CD4E Oil change

This is a guide of how to change the oil in the 4 speed automatic transmission, CD4E.

Introduction to the CD4E

Warning - wrong fluid level

Special attention should be taken to fill correct amount of fluid. If the fill level is too high, transmission components may cause the fluid to foam. If fluid level is too high, excess fluid must be removed. Foaming happens because the gears in the transmission picks up the oil and mix it with air. Foamed oil causes variable operating pressure, with the following consequences:

  • harsh/delayed shifts or engagements
  • damage to the clutch material
  • incorrect torque converter operation
  • fluid emission from the vent

If the fluid level is too low the transmission operation will have the following malfunctions:

  • slipping
  • delayed engagement
  • damage to transmission components

If the fluid level is too low, fluid must be added. Low levels may also indicate that there is a leak.


  • Oil type: Ford specification ESP-M2C166-H
  • Capacity: 7.5 liters
  • Refill capacity: 3.6 liters (remaining 2.9 liters stays in the torque converter and the filter)
The oil quality for the CD4E is very important. According
to many sources one should never use anything else than the
specified ESP-M2C166-H. 
Do not use synthetic Dexron III/Mercon or Mercon V in the CD4E
transmission. Use Dexron III/Mercon made from natural oil.
This is a case where the cheapest is better, no additives or
inhibitors added, the transmission does not like those things.

When to change oil

Under normal vehicle operating conditions, transmission service (transmission model CD4E) is not required unless 5,000-mile fluid inspections reveal either contamination or discoloration of fluid, or transmission exhibits functional concerns.

The CD4E automatic used in that car is known to heat the fluid up, especially in stop and go traffic. Fluid life is directly related to temperature..the hotter the fluid gets, the sooner it needs to be changed. According to Ford oil change is not necessary. But in there are exceptions. In Ford's Technical Information System, the work shop manual one can read that if the car is used as an emergency vehicle (police, ambulance) or as taxi or pulls heavy loads or idles a lot changes should be made every 50000 km. The good thing about the transmission is that it has a drain plug and it is fairly easy to refill with new oil.

Sign that the oil should be replaced:

  • The oil should be red, not brown or black. If there is an odor, this may indicate overheating or damage to a clutch disc or band.
  • Large amount of abraded clutch particles

Note: If internal damage to the transmission is suspected, drain the fluid through a paper filter. A small amount of abraded clutch particles is a sign of normal wear. If however a larger amount of particles of abraded clutch or metallic pieces are found, then a transmission repair is necessary.

Fluid level check

If the vehicle has been operating for an extended period at high speeds or in city traffic during hot weather or pulling a trailer, the engine should be turned off for about 30 minutes to allow the fluid to cool before checking.

The fluid levels should preferably be checked at operating temperature (60-70ºC) after a drive of approx. 30 km. If necessary, it is also possible to check the fluid levels without driving 30 km, provided the ambient temperature is above 10ºC.

With the vehicle on a level surface, start the engine and move the transmission range selector lever through all of the gear ranges, allowing sufficient time for each position to engage. Engage the transmission range selector lever in the PARK position, fully set the parking brake and leave the engine running at idle.

Wipe off the fluid level indicator cap, pull the fluid level indicator out and wipe clean. Put the fluid level indicator back into the guide tube and make sure it is seated properly. Pull out the fluid level indicator and read the fluid level.

When checking the fluid levels at operating temperature (60-70ºC), the fluid level should be in the shaded range on the dipstick. When the vehicle has been driven, and the outside temperature is above 10 ºC, the fluid level should be between the hole and the lower edge of the shaded area on the fluid level indicator.

Change fluid

The easy way

This describes the easy way to change the oil in the transmission. Note that this method only drains part of the full oil capacity and should be done a couple of times to dilute the old oil with new oil. Of the full capacity of 7.5 liters only 3.5-3.6 liters will be drained. The rest of the transmission fluid will stay in the transmission filter, and the torque converter, perhaps also in the oil cooler.

CAUTION: Use of any fluid other than that specified could result in transmission malfunction or failure.
  • 1. Drive the vehicle 30 km to make the transmission oil warm and flow easier.
  • 2. Then raise the vehicle, take all precautions necessary so that you don't get hurt if the vehicle falls down.
  • 3. Remove the filler cap.
  • 4. Under the vehicle, unplug the oil plug and drain the oil into a suitable container. Make sure you have a container with at least 4 liters capacity. It's also good have a scale on it to know how much fluid that has been drained from the transmission. That way it's easier to know how much oil to refill. Or you can always add fluid through the filler tube in amounts of 0,25 l, each time checking the fill level on the fluid dipstick.
  • 5. Put the oil drain plug back. Don't tighten to much.
  • 6. Refill with new transmission fluid through the filler tube (the dip stick tube).
  • 7. Check the fluid level.
  • 8. Start the engine and let it idle. If you have not yet applied the park break, then do so. Pull the brake pedal and switch through the gears N, D, 2, 1 and let the transmission work for each gear. Do this during 5 minutes.
  • 9. Check the fluid level.
  • 10. Drain the transmission on transmission oil again and refill. This time tighten the oil plug.

Complete flush

This is more difficult than the other method but it will be thorougher. To change all 7,5 liters of oil the following procedure can be used.

Requirements: two large 20L buckets, one with 10 liters of new oil, the other one empty, may require two people.

  • Disconnect the hoses from the transmission oil cooler and extend them both into the empty bucket.
  • The engine is started for 1 second. The hose ejecting oil is left in the empty bucket whilst the now identified oil-intake hose is moved to the bucket containing fresh oil.
  • The engine is restarted and run until only clean oil exits.

Disposal of used oil

Make sure you dispose of the old oil in an environmentally sound way!