Dynamic fluid replacement with a modern device is not invasive by any stretch of the imagination. It hooks up to the coolant lines and gradually replaces all fluid while the transmission pumps the fluid around by itself with the engine running. Just had it done for my Toyota last year. Probably too late (past 100K miles) but it was better than not to.
My 2012 TC had that issue. I inspected everything....I mean everything and found nothing. Then one day as I looked through the engine compartment from an unusual angle to the back side of the radiator I saw a little orange discoloration on the radiator fins. Van had 72,000 miles on it and some of the fins were leaking at the seams/creases. The van had spent most of its life as a port security vehicle at the Port of Norfolk. I can only guess/assume that at some point those fins may have been bumped, gouged, scratched by a mechanic or a curious person looking under the hood. The salt air may have done its work to the damaged fins. Just my guess. I had the radiator issue remediated and the smell is gradually going away. Who knows how much residue may be on assorted parts of the engine/body from the long standing process of decay. I may be opening a can or worms but here we go.....make sure you have the system filled with the Ford branded Orange fluid or a product that you have verified to be an absolute equivalent. I had some challenges with an abundance of conflicting opinions about that. I finally went to the dealer and gave up a few dollars....tired of hearing yet more, more, more than I wanted to hear about types of radiator fluid.
That's my service plan too. I drained & refilled mine 4 times using Castrol Transmax Full Synthetic which is Ford approved for all Mercon LV vehicles, mostly because I found a deal on it for $5 a quart, which is less than half the price of Mercon LV and also because I wanted full synthetic fluid and I still don't know exactly what Mercon LV is
Now, every 25K I'll drain and refill it twice for the rest of the time I'll own this van
Ford obviously wanted you to take it to the dealer for all transmission service, because they didn't give you a dipstick to check fluid level and they also didn't give you an easy way to add fluid. I *hate it* when any manufacturer does this sort of thing. As much as I love this van, odds are pretty great that it's my last Ford. The good news is, no more than we drive it though (it's a 2014 with only 25K on it now) it may last us another 10 to 15 years
If you Drain and refill the Transmission 3 to 4 times you can change almost 100 % of the fluid with out an invasive operation that would stir things up. I change mine every 25000 miles.
If you slack the belts you can spin the pulleys and get an idea of what condition the water pump ,alternator and idler pulleys are in. Have the AC system tested and topped off, as over time they all loose refrigerant.
I think you will find it is a very good service platform.
Heater core, maybe. Hoses deliver coolant to the heater core and return the radiator fluid back to the cooling system. A fan blows that heat into your passenger cabin. That is one way the odor of antifreeze can enter your cabin.
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In the old days, transmission flush machines did knock things loose, and caused transmission failures, because the machine pumped cleaning formula into the transmission to "flush". . Back then, you would drop the pan, clean it out, and drain the torque converter if a service plug was available. This was considered safer than to machine flush the transmission with high pressure and cleaning agents.
Today's modern transmission fluid exchangers are different. They don't "flush" like the old machines. The machine hooks up to the transmission's cooling and return lines. The car is turned on, and the transmission's pump pushes fluid out the cooling line. The machine contains fresh fluid which is added back to the transmission at the return line.
Your vehicle should be in good hands at a dealership. However, you can independent shops with the right transmission fluid exchanger. Just ask them what kind of equipment they have and how it works. If they aren't willing to discuss the equipment and process, then you don't need to go to that shop.
Your vehicle was in commercial service when owned by Hobart. You are using the vehicle as a commercial vehicle. Follow the severe duty maintenance schedule. Service the transmission every 30,000 miles.
Belts. Hoses. Water pump. Thermostat. Brake fluid. Power steering fluid. Air conditioning chemical. Air filter. Cabin air filters. Coolant. Spark plugs. COP ignition.
You will get a lot of opinions about the tune-up parts. Some people will tell you that it's a waste of money to replace any of those items, and just wait until you actually need new parts. Do you want to be the guy who "needs" new parts? In the middle of your work day, as you are already behind on service call appointments, is that a good time to "need" a new part? No better time to have a drive belt fail or a hose burst. You'll only be on the side of the road, hoping that your engine didn't overheat to the point of failure. Then you lose all of the work for the rest of that day, and maybe the next day, until you get a replacement van. Not to mention that it would hurt your reputation. Commercial customer waiting for you to repair his walk-in's compressor, loses his entire inventory and all of his sales for the day. That guy won't be calling you back to fix his ice machine.
The Coil-Over-Plug ignition has to be removed for you to change the spark plugs. Some people will tell you to carefully clean, inspect, and reinstall the existing COP. My approach is to simply replace and install a new part. Less effort and easier to just open the package and put a new one on top of your new spark plug. After all, you didn't remove, inspect, and clean your spark plugs; just to reinstall the old spark plugs. And you're not really going to wait until the spark plugs foul and your engine misfires, before you replace them. Same way you're not waiting for the engine to build up sludge and seize, before changing the oil/.
There are already several threads on mounts for cell phones and such. I used a cell phone mount to cradle my tablet on the dash. Working so far. Nothing fancy or expensive.
If the van doesn't have one already, get a roof rack for tools and ladders. You may also want a hitch receiver, as a small trailer will come in handy for transporting washers, dryers, stoves, et cetera.