If you want to save your money on the car maintenance you should be able to change the automatic transmission fuel yourself. As you know the transmission is cooled by the ATF and when the transmission is well cooled it can last 100,000 miles or even more.
Before to change the ATF on your own make sure that you have properly disposed of the old transmission fuel. You must be very careful to avoid getting the transmission fuel drops on your skin or into your eyes.
The following steps will show you how to change your automatic transmission fuel:
Step 1. Check the level of ATF
For this start you vehicle and let it idle. Remember that you can properly check the ATF level only when the car is running. Of course you can also try to check it when the engine is off, but be sure that in this case your measurements will be incorrect.
Remember that the dipstick tube can contain much grease and dirt. You should brush it off carefully and then make sure that the tube is clean. Then you can take off the dipstick to see the level of the fluid. If the color of the transmission fuel is dark, then it is old. New transmission fuel’s color is red.
If the level of ATF is low this is rather a bad sign. This shows either of the leak in a gasket or in the cooling lines running to the radiator.
Step 2. ATF change intervals
We recommend you to change the transmission fuel at intervals of 30,000 to 40,000 miles. Forget about waiting long before to change your ATF. Make it a part of your regular vehicle maintenance.
Step 3. Transmission fuel draining
At first you should keep your vehicle from moving. For this set the emergency brake which will block the tires. Now can you see the line running from transmission to radiator? Disconnect it. Then take a piece of rubber tube and connect it to the pipe. Free end of the tube should be placed into… for example, a milk jug, empty of course. Then start your engine and let it idle. If you‘ve done everything correctly the old transmission fluid will run out of the cooling line just into the jug. Switch off the engine when the fluid stops to flow. Sometimes it is necessary to place the vehicle in drive in order to make the fluid run.
Remember: you must dispose the ATF properly at a recycling center. At the end of this stage you should connect the cooling line to the radiator again.
Step 4. Drain pan removal
Screw out the bolts attaching the pan to the transmission’s bottom. This stage would be very messy if you hadn’t drained most of the ATF.
Step 5. Drain pan cleaning
To clean the inside of the pan use some transmission fluid. It is very important to clean it thoroughly as all the dirt, debris, sludge and metal particles are to be removed. There are magnets of the bottom of the pan. Don’t forget to remove them from all the metal shavings.
Step 6. Replacing the filer
Remove the old filter and replace with a new one. Even don’t try to clean the old filter with the intention to use it again. You must always change the filter changing the ATF.
Step 7. Replacing the gasket
When you clean the drain pan it is always better to change the gasket. Use black RTV adhesive to improve the sealing.
Step 8. Pan installation
When the filter and gasket are at their places, install the pan on the transmission. Screw the bolts in thoroughly and tighten them with a torque wrench. Be careful NOT TO OVERTIGHTEN the bolts.
Step 9. Filling with the ATF
You should use correct type and amount of ATF in your vehicle. For details see the owner’s manual. Usually Dextron III type fluid is used but still don’t be lazy and have a look into the manual in case your car needs another type. To check the ATF level use the dipstick gain. Don’t forget about the running engine. Be careful not to pour too much transmission fluid