Any type of transmission has fluid which lubricates and helps to cool off the parts of a gearbox. Transmission is one of the most expensive parts of a vehicle and if an owner plans to make it last for a while, he or she should change the fluid regularly. It is not necessary to do it as often as oil change, but changing transmission fluid after every 30,000 miles or once in two years is recommended.
Vehicle owner’s manual would give more detailed information on the frequency of the fluid change required for the specific model and explain how to do it; however, here we will try to give general steps on the change of manual transmission fluid.
Before getting under the vehicle the owner should check if all the necessary tools are prepared:
- Transmission fluid. The manual gives factory recommendations as for the type of the fluid needed. It is important to know the amount of fluid needed for the change which is also stated in the manual.
- A fluid pump. It can be purchased at any auto parts store for a very low price. The pump is necessary for refilling the fluid.
- A container for the old fluid.
- Ramps, jacks or jack stands to raise the vehicle.
- Ratchet, wrench, socket or other tools alike.
Start the vehicle and drive around the block to warm up the transmission fluid before changing it: when the fluid is warm is drains faster although it does not warm up as much as the automatic transmission fluid does. After this the auto can be lifted by a jack, set on jack stands or driven onto the ramps. It is important to make sure that the vehicle is properly supported.
Locate the transmission drain plug under the car (the owner’s manual provides this information) and set a container that is meant to catch the old fluid: try to put it as high as possible to avoid splashes and mess.
Some vehicles have a stopper plug that protects drain plug from dirt and it comes off easily giving access to the drain plug. Remove the drain plug using a wrench or other prepared tool. Be cautious, because it is hot. Let the fluid drain into the container, but remember it is also hot, so avoid touching it.
As a rule a little bit of the fluid will remain in the transmission, but this will not affect the work of the new oil the owner will put in it. However, it takes some time to let the fluid drain as much as possible. While waiting, it is good to spend time on cleaning the drain plug. It is magnetic because it is meant to catch small metal pieces which come off the gears while they are slowly wearing out. These particles have to be removed by a clean rag. After this the plug can be installed back in place, but it should not be over tightened.
New transmission fluid should be added through the fill plug which is usually halfway up the side of the transmission. Remove the plug and add the fluid using the special pump. Sometimes this process is manageable without the pump, but usually there is not enough space under the vehicle and near the gearbox to hold even a 1-qt. bottle. Make sure you put enough of the fluid into the transmission. After this is done the fill plug can be installed back in place.
Lower the car, start it and drive a little. Check around both the drain plug and the fill plug for any leaks. It is also good to let the vehicle sit for a little even before driving to be sure that there are no leaks. While driving for the first time with the new fluid, listen for noises. If everything sounds good and there are no leaks, the job is done.