How to Change Your Transmission Fluid in Automatic Transmission Cars

Changing your transmission fluid is a critical maintenance task that can help extend the lifespan of your vehicle transmission and ensure it operates smoothly and efficiently. This article will provide a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to change the transmission fluid in your vehicle, suitable for most automatic transmission cars. 

How to Change Your Transmission Fluid in Automatic Transmission Cars

Things you will need:

  1.  The Right Transmission fluid (check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the correct type and quantity you Transmission fluid for your vehicle)
  2. A new transmission filter (if you decide to change the filter too)
  3. Transmission fluid pan gasket (if it is damaged.)
  4. A Socket and Screwdriver set.
  5. A torque wrench and a drain pan, funnel, and rags.
  6. A Jack, jack stands, or a car lift
  7. Safety glasses and gloves

Related: 8 Early Signs of Transmission Problems, causes, and fixes.

How to Change Your Transmission Fluid Automatic Transmission cars:

Step 1: Prepare Your Vehicle

Ensure your vehicle is driven to a flat surface and then engage the parking brake and place wheel chocks around the tires to prevent the vehicle from moving. Then make sure the car engine is cool down a little, but not completely cold because a cold fluid will not drain completely so you need the engine to still be warm where it keeps the fluid warm. If necessary, jack up your car and secure it with a jack stand, or you can use a vehicle lift to give more room to better access to the transmission fluid pan.

Locate the Transmission Fluid Pan.

Underneath your vehicle, locate the transmission fluid pan. It’s usually a flat, metal pan positioned below the middle or front of the car. Consult your owner’s manual for the exact location and any vehicle-specific procedures.

Drain the Fluid.

Place a drain pan under the transmission fluid pan. Most transmission fluid pans have a drain plug. Remove this plug with a socket wrench and let the fluid drain out completely. If there’s no drain plug, you will need to remove the entire pan; you need to probably consult your owner’s manual for to do this. Unscrew the bolts around the perimeter of the pan with a socket set, gently pry the pan off with a screwdriver, and let the fluid drain into the pan.

Clean the Pan and Change the Filter.

Once the fluid is drained, remove the pan completely. Clean the pan with a rag, removing any old fluid and debris. If your vehicle has a replaceable transmission filter, now is the time to replace it. Remove the old filter—usually, it’s held in place by screws or snaps into position. Install the new filter exactly how the old one was fitted. Make sure all connections are secure. It’s important to probably take pictures and record the process, so we can feed it back exactly how it was.

And you have to also note that some transmissions do not have a replaceable filter; so if that is the case your car owner’s manual will specify if a filter change is recommended and if so, the type of filter it will be.

Replace the Pan Gasket

Check the gasket that seals the pan to the transmission. If it’s worn or damaged, replace it to ensure a good seal and prevent leaks. Place the new gasket on the pan. Some gaskets require sealant, so refer to the gasket instructions and your vehicle’s manual for specific details.

Reattach the Pan.

With the new gasket in place, reattach the transmission fluid pan to the transmission. Start all the bolts by hand to ensure no cross-threading occurs. Then, using a torque wrench, tighten the bolts in a crisscross pattern to the manufacturer’s specified torque setting. This ensures an even seal and prevents warping the pan.

Refill the Transmission Fluid.

Locate the transmission fluid dipstick or refill cap on the top of the engine. Remove it and place a funnel in the tube or opening. Pour in the new transmission fluid slowly. It’s crucial not to overfill, so add the fluid gradually and check the level frequently using the dipstick. The dipstick has markings indicating the proper fill range. Look out for the dipstick markings like “FULL” and “LOW” or “HOT” and “COLD.”   

Or you can refer to your owner’s manual for the recommended amount.

Check for Leaks

Start your car and let it run for a few minutes. With the car in park and the engine still running, check the transmission fluid level again. Adjust as necessary to reach the correct level. Look underneath the car for any signs of leaks around the pan. If you notice a leak, you may need to tighten the bolts a bit more or check the gasket.

Test Drive and Double-check for any further Leaks

Take your vehicle for a short drive to circulate the new fluid. Pay attention to how your vehicle shifts. It should shift smoothly without any hesitation or slipping. After the test drive, check the fluid level one last time and inspect for leaks again. If everything looks good, you’ve successfully changed your transmission fluid!

Changing your transmission fluid can seem daunting, but it’s a manageable task that can significantly contribute to your vehicle’s longevity and performance. Regularly changing your transmission fluid (typically every 30,000 to 60,000 miles, but check your owner’s manual) is an excellent way to maintain your transmission in optimal condition. Remember, taking care of your car’s transmission now can save you time and money by avoiding major repairs later.

Scroll to Top