How to Change Transmission Fluid?
If you’re the DIY types who like to do all of your car maintenance, you may be wondering how you can replace the fluid in your transmission on your own. Fortunately, it’s not as difficult as it seems. The exact process depends on whether you plan to do simple changes or a flush. We’ll provide step-by-step instructions for both methods here.
#1. Standard Fluid Change
Before your begin, be sure to read all steps and make sure you have the necessary tools and skills to perform this transmission service. Otherwise, you could be in for a lot of trouble as you could cause permanent damage to your vehicle’s transmission. Before getting started, makes sure your car is supported with a jack stand. Never get under cars that are not supported properly.
Once you’re sure it’s secure, climb down and locate the pan on the bottom of the transmission. Look & see if it has a drain plug. If it does, your job is a lot easier! Simply remove the drain plug & let the fluid drain into a pan or bucket. If there isn’t a drain plug, then things have to get a little messy.
You have to remove the pan so that the liquid can drain. Remove the screw from one side of the pan first. Be prepared because the fluid will start to flow out as soon as you start to remove the screw.
Once you remove the screw from one side, loosen the screw from the other side so that you can tilt the pan down a bit and allow the liquid to drain out. Once the drainage slows down, go ahead and unscrew the screws on the other side to allow the pan to be removed. Be careful, as it can be quite messy. If your transmission has a replaceable filter, go ahead & replace it with a new filter.
Now, you’ll need to remove the old gaskets from the mating surface on the pan and on the bottom of the transmission. Be sure to remove all pieces and keep surfaces as clean as possible. Otherwise, you won’t get a good seal, and fluid will leak out after changing the pan.
Go ahead & install the new gasket, set the pan in place, and thread the screw back into the pan. Before tightening them, refers to your owner’s manual or repair manual for the proper tightening sequence and torque specs.
Once you’ve replaced the pan, you’ll need to fill the transmission with new fluid. Since not all of the old fluid will drain out of the system, only pour about 60% of the fluid capacity. Check the fluid level, & top it up if necessary. Congratulations, you just changed your transmission fluid! If you’ve decided to do a fluid flush instead, keep reading for instructions.
#2. Fluid Flush
First, you’ll need to locate the transmission cooler lines where they enter and exit the radiator. It will probably be somewhere near where your coolant lines run in and out of your radiator. Remove the line exiting the transmission and place it in a bucket.
Go ahead and place the funnel in the filler neck and be ready to start pouring new fluid into the funnel. The next steps move quickly, so make sure you’re prepared. Start the car engine, and the old fluid will begin to pump from the cooler line into your bucket. At the same time, go ahead & start pouring new fluid into your funnel.
Make sure you don’t run it dry, as this can be harmful to your transmission. Once you have put about 70% of fluid capacity back in the funnel, go ahead and turn off the engine. Replace the transmission cooler line. Check fluid level & top off if necessary. You just flushed transmission fluid into your vehicle.
How to Replace Transmission Fluid:
The way to drain the transmission fluid is to work from above, draining the old fluid through the filler tube. Then fill with fresh liquids. A hand-operated vacuum transmission fluid pump simplifies and cleans up the job. You can remove a third to half of the fluid from the transmission at once.
The rest will be in the torque converter and transmission cooler. So do the process thrice at an interval of a week to replace almost all the old fluid. The little remaining old fluid will be diluted with lots of fresh new fluid.
Some manufacturer recommends replacing filters each time you changes the transmission fluid. Go with what your dealership recommends. Note: But if your transmission pans are leaking, you should either “drop” the pan and replaces the gaskets or take it in for service.
Why Change Transmission Fluid?
Changing your transmission fluid frequently is the bests way to ensure the maximum longevity of your transmissions. If you don’t change your transmission fluid frequently, the dirty fluid won’t work as an effective lubricant, and it won’t dissipate heat well.
These will cause wear & tear on the clutch and other parts of your transmission. Once the clutch pack loses its grip, the old fluid itself may be creating enough friction to engage your clutch and prevent your transmission from slipping.
Prevent damages to your transmission by making sure your transmission fluid is changed or flushed according to the owner’s manuals.
You can also refer to the owner of the manuals to find out what type of transmission fluid your car carries, as there is a wide variety on the market with different viscosities.
Checking Your Transmission Fluid:
You check your engine oil level, right? And you get your engine oil changed, don’t you? Well, you should also have your transmission fluid checked as part of your car maintenance program. It’s a very similar process: Take out the transmission dipstick, clean it with a lint-free rag or paper towel, place the dipstick back in the dipstick tube, & pull it back out to see a clear reading of the fluid levels. If your vehicle doesn’t have transmission dipsticks, don’t worry.
Refer to the owner’s manual to find out when the fluid and transmission filter should be replaced and when you should flush the transmission. Common recommendations are about every 20,000 to 25,000 miles, but this may need to be replaced sooner, depending on your vehicle.
The major difference between a transmission fluid and an oil check is that you will actually be checking the transmission fluid while the car is running. Just remember to put it in neutral or park, and set the parking brake for safety. If the fluid level falls below the minimums line on the dipstick, you’ll need to add more or do transmission fluid changes; keep reading to learn how.
Check your owner’s manuals to see which type is recommended for your vehicle. Like any mechanical fluid, be sure to keep hazardous materials in lockups away from children and animals. You will also want to check the consistency of the liquid, which should be clear with a pink tint.
If the fluid condition looks dirty, it may be a good idea to have the fluid flushed and get a fluid exchange. If you want to change your vehicle’s transmission fluid yourself, keep reading these step-by-step guides on how to gets rid of that’s old fluid & get some fresh fluid through your car.
What Is a Transmission Fluid Flush?
A transmission fluid change is pretty standard. However, there is a time when you may want to consider a complete transmission fluid flush. This is a separate service, but it may be necessary if the fluid running through your entire system is completely bad.
Think of a fluid flush like a complete blood transfusion, where all the fluid is taken out and completely replaced, not just what’s in the reservoir tank. Typically, cleaning solutions are pumped through the system during the flush process to remove any excess built-up fluid or grime.
Then, it is replaced with all new fluids. Naturally, transmission fluid flush is a more intensive process and will be more expensive, partly because 2-3 times as much fluid is usually needed to refill the entire system compared to 5-7 quarts. In 12-22 quarts. Before you consider a transmission fluid flush, however, consult an expert.
These are not something you want to do unless absolutely necessary. And if it is necessary, it is likely due to other transmission problems that you will want to inspect and repair at the same time. Otherwise, you risk facing similar fluid issues.
Transmission Fluid Maintenance:
That said, you can and should regularly check your transmission fluid using a dipstick different from the regular oil dipstick in your car. If the liquid is red in color & has a sweet smell, it is still in good condition. Top off the liquid as needed.
If it’s dark or has a burnt smell, it could be a sign of a bigger transmission problem, and you’ll want to get it checked out. In addition to replacing only the filter and fluid, a standard transmission service will include an external inspection of other major transmission components, such as the pan gasket and transmission pan.
You will want to make sure that all seals are good and that no leaks are taking place. The transmissions are one of the most important components of your car, so you always want to keep it running as well as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How Much Is Changing Transmission Fluid?
While it always depends on the vehicle, most transmission services are between $100.00 to $300.00. Generally, most of this cost isn’t always in labor but in the price of the fluid if you have a vehicle that takes a very specific fluid or a lot of it.
How Do You Flush Transmission Fluid?
Disconnect the hose that returns the transmission fluid from the cooler and place the end into a bucket full of fresh transmission fluid. Start the car and run the transmission back and forth through the gears a few times until the fluid coming out of the transmission looks clean, or you are nearly out of fresh fluid.
How Long Does a Transmission Change Take?
The amount of time required to replace a transmission often depends on the type of transmission and the vehicle. It usually only takes a day or two to replace a transmission in most rear-wheel vehicles. However, some late-model, front-wheel drive vehicles can be quite labor-intensive and take three to four days.
How Much Is an Automatic Transmission Fluid Change?
Typically an automatic transmission fluid change cost is higher than a manual transmission. This is because the job may also require that your oil filter and pan gasket be replaced as well. The total cost for this service can estimate to be anywhere from $300-$500.
How to Change Transmission Fluid
- STEP 1: Park and elevate the vehicle.
- STEP 2: Locate the transmission fluid pan.
- STEP 3: Drain the old transmission fluid.
- STEP 4: Inspect the transmission fluid filter and change it if necessary.
- STEP 5: Secure the transmission fluid pan.
- STEP 6: Refill the transmission fluid.
- STEP 7: Check for leaks.
Why Change Transmission Fluid?
Though changing transmission fluid can’t fix mechanical problems, it does make for smoother shifts and can extend the life of your transmission. And even when manufacturers recommend fluid change intervals of 150,000 miles under normal conditions, it may be a good idea to change it more frequently.
Where to Check the Transmission Fluid
Locate the automatic transmission fluid dipstick, typically near where the transmission or transaxle meets the rear of the engine. It looks similar to the oil dipstick. Remove the automatic transmission fluid dipstick. Wipe clean, reinsert fully and remove again.
Check Transmission Fluid with the Car on or Off
Turn on your car, leave it in the park, and let the engine run for a few minutes to warm up. Transmission fluid expands in the heat, and in order to receive accurate results, it must be under normal operating conditions. If the fluid is checked when the engine is cold, you may get false results indicating the fluid is low.
Check the Transmission Fluid
With the engine warmed up, leave the car idling in the park on a level surface. Pull out the dipstick, wipe it clean, replace it slowly, and then pull it back out. Check the fluid level—how high the fluid comes up on the dipstick—against the “full” and “low” or “fill” marks on the dipstick.
Transmission Fluid Maintenance
If you drive manually, most manufacturers will recommend changing your transmission fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. If you have an automatic, you can typically boost that range up to 60,000 to 100,000 miles. There’s no harm in changing your fluid early.