How To Change Transmission Fluid

Changing transmission oil and learn how to do it the right way

The vehicle you own has several moving parts that are in constant motion frequently, all through the when you are driving the vehicle.

One such system is the transmission system of the vehicle and it has to be constantly cleaned and lubricated with a clear liquid called the transmission fluid.

When used in the vehicle for long periods, the transmission fluid tends to get dirty and would need to be replaced for the optimal functioning of the vehicle transmission system.

You should know that regular changing of the vehicle’s transmission fluid as well as other fluids like the engine oil, prolongs the lifespan of the vehicle.

A fresh fluid running through the systems will work to clean and lubricate the various components and this will reduce damage on them.

Here’s how you can change your transmission by following the following procedure:

  1. Leave The Car To Idle For A Close To Ten minutes Before You Start, Have It Parked
  2. Switch Off The Vehicle And Raise It With A Jack Stand
  3. Beneath The Transmission, Set Up A Tarp And A Couple Of Gallons Catch Pan
  4. Gradually, Loosen The Bolts
  5. Clear Off The Dirt That Forms On The Surfaces Of Gaskets For Either The Pan And The Cover Of The Transmission Of The Vehicle
  6. Take Out The Existing Transmission Filter And The O-Ring
  7. Put in Place A New Transmission Filter
  8. Install A New Gasket Onto The Pan That Has Oil-Soluble Grease
  9. Consult The Vehicle’s Owner’s Manual On How To Best Use The Thread Sealer
  10. Torque The Pan Bolts
  11. Set The Vehicle At A Lower Level And Replace The Transmission Fluid
  12. Ignite The Engine, Get It Warmed Up And Switch Off Then Finally Check For Any Leakages
  13. Get Rid Of The Old Transmission Fluid Appropriately

You could always check the condition of your vehicle’s transmission fluid through a series of steps.

If you are lucky, your car might have a dipstick for the transmission fluid check and this will not take more than 10 minutes.

If the transmission fluid appears to be burned or discolored from its original color, then it would be wise that you change it as soon as you can; most vehicles will require changing the transmission fluid every month.

Similarly, when you realize that the fluid level is low, you will need to know how to add transmission fluid.

On the other hand, some vehicles are a little bit complicated and would require that you take them to an auto shop for the transmission fluid to be checked.

You can know the price of changing your transmission fluid here.

How Do You Know When To Change Transmission Fluid?

The vehicle’s manufacturer will indicate how long it should take before you change the transmission fluid.

However, it would be wise to change the transmission fluid after every 30000 miles just to be safe.

You will also have to check and maybe change the transmission fluid when shifting gears will seem quite rough. This will help you enjoy the vehicle’s smooth transmission whenever you are driving.

For the automatic transmission vehicle models, a change of the transmission fluid regularly will be ideal as the transmission here shifts rather roughly.

You don’t want the transmission to reach a point when it is rather noisy or even slips.

In a severe situation not changing the transmission fluid will damage the components of the vehicle’s transmission system.

You might also have to check the level of the transmission fluid regularly as leakages might lower its level significantly.

Benefits Of Changing Transmission Fluid

There are numerous reasons why you would have to change your vehicle’s transmission fluid. The following are the benefits that you will enjoy with regular changing of the same:

  1. Low fuel wastage which will be realized when the transmission fluid is changed on time thus letting the engine run smoothly.
  2. Smooth and normal operation of the engine as there will be no cases of the engine locking up.
  3. Changing the transmission fuel is a maintenance practice that prevents the damage of other components thus saves you money that you should have paid for replacing the parts.
  4. A refreshed transmission fluid is better at cleaning and lubricating the transmission system and thus assists the vehicle to run smoothly. You will no longer have to deal with troubles when shifting gears and noises while doing the same.

Is It Also Necessary To Change The Transmission Filter?

Yes, the transmission fluid as well as the gasket needs to be changed whenever you are changing the transmission fluid.

This is because it receives a beating when it is working to keep out contaminants from getting to the fluid.

You will also have to change the filter whenever you hear rattling noises from it, realize a case of a leakage when there is too much contamination, and also when you are finding it difficult to shift between gears.

What Do You Need For A Transmission Fluid Change?

If you are planning to replace your vehicle’s transmission fluid, you will have to assemble all the necessary tools for the job.

This will help you get the job done within the shortest time possible and also avoid any hitches when you are getting the task done.

The tools you will use include:

  • Socket wrenches
  • Screwdrivers
  • Mallet
  • Shop towels for cleaning up
  • Gasket scraper
  • A torque wrench
  • Fluid catch pan
  • Longneck funnel
  • Two old milk jugs
  • Jack stands or car ramp
  • Wheel chocks
  • Brake cleaner
  • Several clean shop rags, newspapers

For safety, you will have to get working gloves and safety goggles as their will is fluid spillage all through the working area and on the tools to.

You will also need the new transmission fluid that you want to use for the vehicle transmission system after draining out the old one.

The Process Of Changing Transmission Fluid {Let’s learn “How-To” Deeply!}

Changing the transmission fluid of your vehicle is not an involving procedure neither is it time-consuming. You should be able to pull it off in a simple manner provided you have the available tools for the task.

The following is a detailed explanation of how to change transmission fluid for automatic engines:

1. Leave The Car To Idle For A Close To Ten minutes Before You Start, Have It Parked

For the existing transmission fluid to drain out of the vehicle easily before you proceed to change it, it needs to be warm.

It drains much better when it is warm or at operating temperature. The car should be parked in a convenient enough area such as a leveled garage.

2. Switch Off The Vehicle And Raise It With A Jack Stand

After bringing the transmission fluid to operating temperature, switch off the engine.

3. Beneath The Transmission, Set Up A Tarp And A Couple Of Gallons Catch Pan

You can then go beneath the vehicle and set up a tarp, cardboard, a rag, or even some newspapers. This should go under a two-gallon catch pan.

The next step is to take out the bolts that are on one side of the transmission pan while being careful not to be burnt with the components of the vehicle’s exhaust.

4. Gradually, Loosen The Bolts

Get to loosen the other bolts on the system and this should let the pan to tilt and then start to drain.

After removal of all the bolts, set the pan lower and let the fluid that is still draining to dump in the catch pan.

The next step is to break the seal on the gasket using a screwdriver or any other tool you can get.

5. Clear Off The Dirt That Forms On The Surfaces Of Gaskets For Either The Pan And The Cover Of The Transmission Of The Vehicle

You will need a cleaning solvent to clean the oil pan and the housing of the gasket properly.

You should also be on the lookout for damage such as small and tiny metals that are left behind on the oil pan or even signs of erosion on the gasket.

6. Take Out The Existing Transmission Filter And The O-Ring

To takes out the existing filter, you want to unscrew the bolt that attaches it to the vehicle’s transmission system.

If there is any residue that comes off from the transmission body, you will have to clean them and then install a new filter.

7. Put In Place A New Transmission Filter

When you are buying a new filter for the vehicle, you should consult the owner’s manual for clarification on which model is appropriate.

8. Install A New Gasket Onto The Pan That Has Oil-Soluble Grease

After all that, you need to remove the old gasket that is on the oil pan and install the new gasket onto the transmission pan and avoid using an adhesive.

You will have to use an oil-soluble grease to seal it. Set up the oil pan using the new gasket and place it back against the transmission and set up the bolts so that they are not loose.

You will also have to get back and tighten up the different bolts by torquing them through a criss cross manner.

You will then have to move across the pan while you tighten them and have them locked in an even manner on the transmission system.

9. Consult The Vehicle’s Owner’s Manual On How To Best Use The Thread Sealer

If you will have to use the thread sealer, you will have to consult the owner’s manual on how to best use it.

10. Torque The Pan Bolts

You will also have to get back and tighten up the different bolts by torquing them through a criss cross manner.

You will then have to move across the pan while you tighten them and have them locked in an even manner on the transmission system.

11. Set The Vehicle At A Lower Level And Replace The transmission Fluid

After all the bolts are securely tightened, lower the vehicle and change the transmission fluid through the dipstick tube that is under the hood of the vehicle, and just beside the engine compartment.

If you can’t locate the dipstick tube, you can always consult the vehicle’s owner’s manual that will indicate where it is; different manufacturers place it in different areas.

You should also get from the manual which is the appropriate type of transmission fluid that you should work with because there is a variety for different models of vehicles.

For instance, there is the manual transmission fluid and the automatic transmission fluid. Similarly, you should get to know which brand suits your vehicle model.

12. Ignite The Engine, Get It Warmed Up And Switch Off Then Finally Check For Any Leakages

After changing the transmission fluid of the vehicle, you can then switch on the vehicle and let it run for some time and let the engine warm-up.

If the vehicle has a transmission fluid dipstick, check the level of the transmission fluid. the dipstick has markings showing whether or not the transmission fluid is adequate or not.

After you are assured, switch off the vehicle and check for leakages through the transmission pan.

Leakages lower the level of the fluid and this prevents the optimal performance of the transmission of the vehicle and you might start realizing unusual responses when you are shifting the gears and also some noises.

This also damages the components of the transmission system.

13. Get Rid Of The Old Transmission Fluid Appropriately

Transmission fluid just like any other oil might be a hazardous threat to the environment. You want to dispose of it properly to avoid any dangers later on.

You can also recycle them through fluid recycle programs that are performed by the auto spare shops and stores.

One thing you need to note is that the spares and the transmission fluid that you replace need to be of the appropriate type and brand.

Otherwise, most parts of the transmission systems will not be able to operate as they should and may even get damaged.

I highly recommend you to watch this video too:

Transmission Fluid Change Vs. Flush: Which One Is Better?

A transmission flush is defied when the existing old and used up fluid is changed with a high quality of fresh fluid.

This will generally help the transmission fluid to enjoy a much cooler and favorable working environment and also protection from wearing out of the clutches and the other parts.

The benefits of a transmission flush include the fact that it assists the vehicle to consistently shift gears and crisply unlike the way it did before.

It also aids with the cleaning of the transmission system of the vehicle-it gets rid of the contaminants that pile up in the system.

On the other hand, the shortcomings of a transmission flush are that it is quite costly and some people shun against performing this procedure.

It is discouraged as the fluid may be forced to move in an alternate direction and against the usual flow and this encourages dislodging of the debris which ends up settling in areas they shouldn’t.

If you want to get rid of the old transmission fluid because of several reasons, then a transmission flush would be worth performing. This will get rid of the contaminants in the old system.

However, it is discouraged if there is a damaged transmission component in the transmission fluid as this would lead to complications at the valve system that is at the bottom of the transmission.

Generally, when comparing and debating whether to get either the fluid change or transmission flush, it always depends on what you want to achieve.

A flush works to remove most of the old transmission fluid and might just be appropriate for you at some time.

However, it is recommendable that you consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual and check if either is advised by the manufacturer.

Can The Transmission Be Damaged By Changing The Transmission Fluid?

The transmission fluid change process doesn’t damage any parts of the transmission system as long as you do it properly.

It instead spares them from damage which would be the case when the transmission fluid is left to run in the system for long.

However, the filter and gasket will need to be replaced with new ones but with the same model or a recommended one by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

After you have completed the changing of the vehicle’s transmission system you should check for leakages as advised above.

You might have damaged a component or the bolts may not be tightened enough and this will lead to leakages.

Leakages will lower the level of the transmission fluid and make the transmission not to work as needed.

Will A Transmission Flush Hurt Your Car?

Generally, a transmission flush should only be performed if you get a go-ahead from the vehicle’s manufacturer. However, it presents a risk to the components of the vehicle’s transmission system.

A flush works to remove most of the old transmission fluid and might just be appropriate for you at some time.

However, it is recommendable that you consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual and check if either is advised by the manufacturer.

If you want to get rid of the old transmission fluid because of several reasons, then a transmission flush would be worth performing. This will get rid of the contaminants in the old system.

However, it is discouraged if there is a damaged transmission component in the transmission fluid as this would lead to complications at the valve system that is at the bottom of the transmission.

Related Questions

How Often Should I Change My Transmission Fluid?

You will know when the transmission fluid of your vehicle needs to be changed when you start noticing unusual responses from the vehicle.

The vehicle might start to have rough reactions when you shift gears and also might make unusual noises.

In severe cases, the engine might even lock up when you delay the changing of the transmission fluid.

On a general note, the manufacturer will indicate how long it should take before you change the transmission fluid.

However, it would be wise to change the transmission fluid after every 30000 miles to 60000 miles just to avoid any unprecedented complications.

You will also have to check and maybe change the transmission fluid when shifting gears will seem quite rough. This will help you enjoy the vehicle’s smooth transmission whenever you are driving.

If you keep on postponing the changing of the transmission fluid, you will be dealt with a hefty blow.

This is because the components of the transmission might get damaged and will need repair which might be quite costly-and in most cases costs some thousands of dollars.

You should also be keen on what is recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

Some manufacturers might recommend that the transmission fluid be changed more frequently than you might think so that the components of the transmission system are protected effectively from damage that would otherwise be caused.

Is It Bad To Change Transmission Fluid On High Mileage?

Yes, when you wait for the vehicle to cover a longer mileage before you change the transmission fluid, it will be bad for the vehicle.

This is because when the vehicle is in use, the transmission fluid will be one of the most active fluids just like the engine oil.

Through its role, it accumulates a lot of contaminants that make it difficult for it to do its job.

The additives also break down and accumulate in the transmission fluid and thus hinder its lubricating capabilities-this leads to a series of complications that you surely don’t want to deal with.

When you let the vehicle run for some fairly long miles before you change the transmission fluid, you will be putting the components of the transmission system at risk.

They may end up getting damaged because of the lack of lubrication which will allow friction to cause wear and tear on either of them and you will be forced to incur high expenses to repair and replace them.

Therefore, after approximately 40000 miles or as recommended by the manufacturer. You should change the vehicle’s transmission fluid.

This will help to steer clear of any of the shortcomings that come with not doing so, which tend to increase in severity the longer you delay.

What Happens If I Don’t Change My Transmission Fluid?

When you postpone changing your transmission fluid, one thing that will happen is that the old one will be worn out.

The additives in the fluid tend to break down and they will contaminate the fluid and this will make it unable to lubricate the components of the transmission system.

Cleaning of the system will also be hindered as the fluid itself will be dirty.

Secondly, the transmission system will be affected and will not be as smooth as before.

You might realize this on your end as when you shift from one gear to another, the car will respond roughly, and also some noises will be produced.

You will realize a series of other complications with every instance that you postpone changing your transmission fluid.

Another thing that will happen is that the components of the transmission system will receive a beating and end up getting damaged.

What will be needed is a repair or replacement for the components which will be quite costly which you would have avoided with a simple changing of the transmission fluid in the first place.

On a severe note, the engine might also get locked which is the last thing you want to deal with.

To avoid either of the above complications, you should change the transmission fluid within the advised time intervals.

This will ensure that the fluid in the system does a great job lubricating the components of the transmission system as well as cleaning them effectively.

Conclusion

As you can see, changing your vehicle’s transmission fluid is a task that you can complete on your own without professional help.

However, for the manual transmission type of vehicles, the process is a little bit different.

Sources:

1. Mobil – https://www.mobil.com/en/lubricants/for-personal-vehicles/auto-care/vehicle-maintenance/how-to-change-transmission-fluid-and-filter
2. Aceable – https://www.aceable.com/car-maintenance/transmission-fluid-change/

Written by Yusuke Kohara

Hi there! My name is Yusuke. I write about automotive topics for Car Proper. I love cars and have a passion for writing helpful articles on tools, car accessories, and how-to to help my readers solve their problems. In my spare time, I'm either working out, reading the book, or spending time with my family. I also work for a digital consulting agency.

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