It is easy to learn how to change transmission fluid filters, especially if you’re familiar with changing the oil in a vehicle. Transmission fluid replacement is an important maintenance task that many DIYers overlook.
Transmission fluid can become dirty if not changed at the recommended intervals. This reduces its effectiveness as a lubricant. This causes friction, heat, and wear to the transmission.
You can tell if your vehicle’s transmission fluid needs to be replaced by sudden RPM changes before shifting, grinding sound, jarring up or downshifts, and burning odors that indicate increased friction between the moving parts.
Transmission fluid should be changed approximately once every 30,000-60,000 miles for manual transmissions and every 60,000-100,000. To determine the right transmission fluid replacement interval, consult the owner’s guide.
To check the level of transmission fluid in your car, you can open the vehicle’s hood and inspect the dipstick with the red-handled transmission oil dipstick. If your transmission fluid is clean but low in levels, you can add fluid to it. However, if the fluid appears discolored, it’s best to change it.
STEP 1. Park the car and raise it.
A transmission fluid change is similar to many maintenance tasks for a vehicle. Start by parking the vehicle in a secure area, such as a garage or level driveway. Place the vehicle in Park, then take out the keys and use the parking brake.
You will need a jack to lift the vehicle off the ground in order to access the transmission fluid pan. To stop the vehicle from moving or shifting while you are working, place wheel chocks behind your rear tires.
You can also drive your car up on steel wheel ramps instead of using a lift jack. They are designed to hold the vehicle’s weight and have depressions at each end to prevent it from moving. You should allow the engine to cool down for 5-10 minutes after turning it off. This will ensure that you don’t work with hot parts or transmission fluid.
STEP 2 – Locate the transmission fluid pan.
You will need to slide underneath the vehicle to locate the transmission fluid pan. This pan is usually located on the left or right side of the engine bay for front-wheel and 4-wheel drive vehicles. It can also be found under the center console area for rear-wheel-drive vehicles. It has a wide, flat shape and is attached to the bottom part of the transmission using six to eight bolts. This should make it easy to locate.
You should check if the drain plug on the transmission fluid pan allows you to release the transmission fluid. If not, you may need to take out the whole pan in order to drain the fluid. To avoid a mess underneath the vehicle, ensure that your transmission fluid pan does not have a drain plug.
STEP 3 – Drain the old transmission fluid.
Wear gloves to protect your hands during the replacement and safety glasses to shield your eyes from any falling transmission fluid. To remove the drain plug from the transmission fluid pan, use either a crescent wrench or a socket wrench to unplug it.
Without a drain plug, transmission fluid pans will need to be removed completely. To catch any transmission fluid that falls, use a crescent wrench or socket wrench to remove the bolts from one end of the transmission fluid tray. Continue to loosen the bolts on both sides of your fluid pan. This will allow the transmission fluid to drain. Remove the last bolts from the transmission fluid pan and drain it completely.
Keep the transmission fluid pan, and bolts, in a safe place until they are reinstalled. To check the contents of your drain pan, look for any unusual-shaped or large chunks of metal. This could indicate serious damage. You will see some metal shavings in your old transmission fluid. However, larger pieces indicate that your transmission needs immediate attention from an automotive professional.
STEP 4 – Inspect the transmission fluid filter, and make any necessary changes.
To access the transmission fluid filter, drain the vehicle’s transmission fluid. You should inspect the filter for cracks and leaks. The filter does not need to be changed every transmission fluid change. However, inspecting the filter is a great way to spot potential problems before they have an even greater impact on your transmission system.
You can replace the transmission fluid filter by purchasing a compatible replacement filter. Slide under the car to remove the bolt holding the old filter in place. Once the bolt is removed, pull the filter down. This is the time to tighten up the transmission valve body bolts. However, be careful not to over-tighten.
Lubricate the O-rings of the filter with transmission fluid, then align the fittings with your transmission valve body. To properly install the O-rings in the filter fittings, push them in. Then use the bolt you removed previously to attach the new filter to your vehicle.
STEP 5 – Secure the transmission fluid pan.
Once the filter is installed, it’s time to reinstall your transmission fluid pan. To hold the pan in its place, align the bolt pattern with the pan. To tighten the bolts using a crescent wrench or a socket wrench, be careful not to over-tighten to avoid damaging the pan. Make sure you reinstall any drain plugs on your transmission fluid pan before removing them from underneath the vehicle.
STEP 6 – Refill the transmission oil.
It is easy to figure out how to refill transmission fluid. The jack should be lowered or taken off the wheel ramps. Once the vehicle is on the ground, open the hood. The red dipstick is used to identify the fluid transmission port. To prevent fluid from spilling onto engine parts, you can pour transmission fluid directly into this port.
There are many types of transmission fluids. Make sure to check your owner’s guide to determine the right type. Turn the vehicle on after filling it with fluid. Let it run for a few more minutes before turning it off again. To verify that the fluid level is correct, pull out the transmission fluid dipstick and close the vehicle’s hood. You can add more fluid to increase the level of the transmission fluid before closing the vehicle’s hood.
STEP 7 – Check for leaks.
It is important to inspect the transmission fluid before you drive the vehicle. Allow the vehicle to run for several moments while you place a large piece on top of the transmission fluid pan. You will need to remove the cardboard from the vehicle if it shows signs of transmission fluid dripping.
You can fix leaks by tightening the bolts or replacing the transmission fluid pan gasket if there is damage to the pan.
Transmission fluid can cause lasting damage to the environment and is not recommended for use. It can cause damage to wildlife and vegetation as well as water sources such as rivers, ponds, and lakes. Dispose of old transmission fluid properly to avoid any harm to the environment or the community.
Many auto parts shops and body shops offer fluid recycling programs which allow you to drop off any motor oil, transmission fluid, or other hazardous fluids. Keep in mind that you will be charged a fee for disposal. You may have to take the fluid to your local government recycling facility if your local auto parts shop does not offer a fluid recycling program.