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Old 06-19-2011, 06:45 PM   #1
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DIY Transmission fluid and filter change


I changed my ATF and filter yesterday and thought I'd pass along what I learned. This was on a GM 3T40 on a 91 Olds Silhouette.

1) it's unbelievably messy. You need a tarp and a big pan under the tranny. I would have gotten one of those big plastic under bed boxes if I'd have known. I drained 4 quarts into the pan and still had a huge stain on my driveway.

2) Getting the pan off isn't hard, but getting it clean and the gasket scraped is time consuming. I used acetone and brake cleaner to clean the pan and a carbide gasket scraper to get the gasket off. Who ever last serviced the tranny put a bead of sealer on the pan, which is what you AREN'T supposed to do. Made getting the gasket off somewhat difficult.

3) the filter/gasket kit I got at autozone came with a nitrile gasket. All the bolt holes were small and held the bolts in place while I repositioned the pan. I just had to hold it up, finger thread the bolts and that was it to get it on. Piece of cake.

4) I used a 1/4 inch torque wrench for the intall, 80 inch pounds on all of them, then up to 120 inch pounds. This worked fine. No leaks.

Here are some pictures

http://stevelutzphoto.smugmug.com/Ot.../atf-002-M.jpg

http://stevelutzphoto.smugmug.com/Ot.../atf-003-M.jpg

http://stevelutzphoto.smugmug.com/Ot.../atf-004-M.jpg


Last edited by Bigplanz; 06-19-2011 at 06:49 PM.
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Old 06-20-2011, 12:02 AM   #2
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DIY Transmission fluid and filter change


You're right about it being messy!

I've often wondered why they don't put some sort of small drain plug in one of the low corners of transmission pans. That'd sure make it easier to drop that bad boy off there without getting that smelly fluid all over everything - including yourself.

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Old 06-20-2011, 06:34 AM   #3
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DIY Transmission fluid and filter change


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You're right about it being messy!

I've often wondered why they don't put some sort of small drain plug in one of the low corners of transmission pans. That'd sure make it easier to drop that bad boy off there without getting that smelly fluid all over everything - including yourself.
Some do and some don't. My Toyota has this, but my Chrysler and GM does not.

As far as getting the pan off without it going everywhere, I usually loosen all of the bolts. Then, take one corner and loosen it, let it drain. I work that corner by loosening, but not removing all of the bolts and remove them slowly until the pan stops dripping. Once it does, I support the pan remove the rest of the bolts and lower it. I usually don't get any on the ground.
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Old 06-20-2011, 09:12 AM   #4
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DIY Transmission fluid and filter change


When I started loosening the bolts the fluid started trickling, then gushing, out. I should have used a plastic garbage can lid in addition to the oil pan I had. A drain plug seems fairly obvious on a system that requires periodic fluid changes. Don't know why most cars don't have them. Once the pan was off it really wasn't that hard to do the rest of the job. The filter was easy to change. The pan was a mess but just took a little time to clean. Putting the pan back on was easy, since the gasket kept all the bolts in place. Torque wrench is essential, though! My harbor freight $16 torque wrench has done fine for both a water pump install (last summer) and now a transmission pan. No leaks!
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Old 06-20-2011, 01:23 PM   #5
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DIY Transmission fluid and filter change


ahm, because they want you to go to a dealer. is it really that hard to figure? of course, official bs will be different, but the real reason... it's $600 ATF change on Mazda 626... too good to pass on...

you can remove that pan next time, take to your buddy Bill Torch, and have him weld a nut inside and install drain plug into it. voila. you don't really have to change filter every ATF refill.

many modern cars do not have gaskets anymore, it's goop now. personally, i always run a beed of silicone before i install gaskets, to keep them in place. you don't want it to drip inside the trannie, otherwise - no harm and helps.
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Old 06-20-2011, 01:47 PM   #6
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DIY Transmission fluid and filter change


On this van, I had let it go way too long. I bought it in 2001 and it had 119K miles on it. It now has 179K and I decided it needed to be done.

If you look at the picture of the pan before I cleaned it, you will see the goo at the bottom. The filter wasn't much better. Shifts are smoother now!
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Old 06-20-2011, 02:13 PM   #7
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DIY Transmission fluid and filter change


good job!! yeah, someone really had it with red goop... i just smear some with finger tip, to tack gasket in place... but i have 07 camry hybrid, there's virtually no gaskets on it. sealant only.
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Old 06-20-2011, 05:17 PM   #8
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One other thing.... The manual said the tranny takes 4 quarts to refill. Not so. It took 5 and a half quarts to fill mine when the tranny is hot. Check it when the thing is hot!
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Old 06-21-2011, 06:04 AM   #9
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DIY Transmission fluid and filter change


I changed the transmission fluid in the new first car I owned...a new 75 Monte Carlo. What a mess!!!!!. I vowed never to do it again and never have, and there is no way I would have a dealer do it for the price they would charge. There have been quite a few cars since that 75 MC, between my wife and kids. None ever had the transmission fluid changed. A few to note, the 88 Century had over 300k miles on it...never had fluid change. the 2000 LeSabre had 170k on it...original fluid when I traded it. My latest car is coming up to the owners manual recommendation for a fluid change, and it will not be changed.
I am a stickler for preventative maintenance, except for transmission fluid change. Perhaps if I was pulling a trailer now and then, or the fluid got somehow burnt, I would, but as far as I am concerned it is a needless chore for the DYI person, or a dealer money maker. Besides, if it was meant to be changed, the pan would have a drain plug.
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Old 06-21-2011, 07:50 AM   #10
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DIY Transmission fluid and filter change


That's an interesting POV, but judging from the gooey sludge at the bottom of my pan and the condition of the old filter I think a periodic ATF fluid and filter change is prudent.
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Old 06-21-2011, 09:05 AM   #11
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DIY Transmission fluid and filter change


^Agreed. Maintenance isn't a guarantee that problems will not occur, but it increases the odds dramatically. Personally, I follow the severe service recommendations on all my cars. If you really look at the parameters, most cars fall within severe service anyway. While I know folks that don't service their tranny's, I could never recommend it to anyone. The only thing I don't recommend is the fluid flush with detergent. That stirs up grime that clogs the valve body and causes early transmission failure. A simple fluid change w/filter is all that is needed. And like you pointed out above, you can feel the difference in shifting.

It really isn't messy if you do it right, slowly drain the pan from one corner while slowly loosening the bolts to increase the angle while supporting the pan. I also use a cement mix tub which catches everything. My Toyota has a drain plug on it even though service isn't recommended until 100k miles. It is pretty simple to pull the drain plug, let it drain and refill with 4 qts of fluid (I do use Toyota fluid though). I will change the filter at the normal scheduled interval.
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Old 06-21-2011, 12:22 PM   #12
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DIY Transmission fluid and filter change


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Originally Posted by Bigplanz View Post
One other thing.... The manual said the tranny takes 4 quarts to refill. Not so. It took 5 and a half quarts to fill mine when the tranny is hot. Check it when the thing is hot!

all you did was refill. COMPLETE REFILL is normally about 4 times what you drain out of transmission pan. you have a lot of it in torque converter, lines, ATF radiator. basically, you just diluted it with fresh ATF.
there's way to do complete trannie flush with full refill, at home, but you can not do it without drain plug. i mean - you can, but you'll have to remove pan 4 times. not feasible.
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Old 06-21-2011, 07:52 PM   #13
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DIY Transmission fluid and filter change


This was the first tranny fluid/filter change I've ever done on a car I've owned and I'm 54.

This van is also the 'newest' car I've ever owned and it's 20 years old. I changed the ATF because it had at least 55k miles on it since the last change and I need to keep this thing going for as long as possible. Plus, of course, to me stuff like this is fun.
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Old 06-22-2011, 08:32 PM   #14
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DIY Transmission fluid and filter change


give that van some Lucas ATF oil. good medicine. i am in 56 yo body, and still tare my cars apart. don't give us no cheap excuse, big.

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