Engine oil is a worry to many car owners, and it is right because the oil is necessary to make your car move. Without the oil, the engine can’t run. However, power is transferred from the engine to the wheels with the help of transmission fluid. This means if something is wrong with the transmission fluid, then the wheels will not be receiving the power they need to move, and this too will make you glued in one place.
Therefore, as much as you worry about the engine oil as a car owner, you need to be concerned about the transmission fluid. This transmission fluid is the lifeblood that covers torque converters and gears. It is magenta-colored. For optimum performance of transmission components, various cars use transmission fluid to lubricate them.
Transmission fluid is classified into the manual and automatic transmission fluid. Transmission fluid keeps the car cool in cars having automatic transmission fluid. On the other hand, plain motor oil is used as a transmission fluid in manual cars.
Today, many vehicles feature automatic transmissions, and as a result, the fluid is referred to as automatic transmission fluid. The switching of gears takes place when there is a change in pressure within the fluid. Even on short drives, e.g., riding from the workplace to your home, the transmission fluid does a lot of work.
The fluid can be hot, say above 170 degrees Fahrenheit, which is too high to a driver. However, this is usual for the transmission fluid. The transmission can keep the vehicle moving even 100,000 miles if the temperatures within could remain 170 degrees Fahrenheit. But most of the time, fluid temperature is more than the optimal level.
For example, several driving situations, such as riding up and down valleys, traveling long distances, transporting heavy stuff, and stopping frequently overheat the fluid. The overheating breaks down the fluid, and you begin to notice a slow and rough gear shifting.
Car producers advise you to drain transmission fluid after covering approximately 25,000 miles. If you can pay, you can have the fluid drained from a local service department, a quick lube station, or a repair shop. However, you can do it yourself.
You only need a guide on how to do it and several tools. Becoming a home mechanic will save you monies because you can do several repairs by yourself, so learning to drain transmission fluid will improve your skills in car maintenance. Below is a guide on how to drain transmission fluid:
1. Find Out How Much Fluid Is Available
Before you go on to drain the transmission fluid, you need to be sure it requires draining. A dipstick is necessary for this process. It is located next to the motor oil dipstick and is red. If you look keenly, you will see a cold and hot reading. Considerations to be made are:
You do not need to drain the fluid if the amount remaining is low, but the reading shows excellent quality. You may only need to top up the amount.
In case the fluid is sludgy and has changed color, you need to drain it. Once you have reached the maximum mileage for change of fluid, it does not matter even if it still seems clean. Drain and replace it.
Use the cold reading to get readings of the fluid if you stay in cold places and have not turned on the engine for some time.
2. Fluid Warming
After identifying the fluid needs to be replaced, you need to drain it, and the first step is to make it warm. To do this, allow the engine to run for a moment or go for a short ride. This process stirs the transmission fluid and makes it easy to remove.
3. Get Required Equipment
You need the following items before you begin the job.
- A jack
- Protective Gear (i.e., goggles and gloves)
- Transmission oil for replacement
- A wrench
- New gasket
- New filter
- A drain pan
4. Jack up the Vehicle
Transmission fluid pan is typically located underneath the vehicle, and so you will need to get under the car to drain it. Therefore, using a jack and its components, lift the car so you can easily maneuver.
5. Put on Protective Gear
You do not want debris to enter your eyes because you know how sensitive they are, so wear goggles. Also, you wouldn’t like your hands to look filthy, therefore put on gloves and an overall to avoid dirtying your clothes.
6. Find the Transmission Fluid Unit
It is not hard to see the transmission fluid unit once you are under the vehicle. It is broad in size. After finding it, locate the drainage plug. This will assist in draining the fluid.
7. Find Whether the Pan Has Leaks
It is essential to find leaks on the transmission pan as these can lead to damage. This damage is not the loss of fluid, but when water and air enter the pan, they can erode its inner components. If you can see leaks, find out how big they are. If they are small, block them, and in case they are big, replace the pan. Most of the time, when you inspect the pan, you can tell whether it needs to be replaced or not.
8. Removing Transmission Fluid
It is time for the most significant step, removing the transmission fluid. It is an easy process that should not take much of your time, and there are two ways of doing it. You can remove the entire fluid pan to drain it, or you can use the drainage plug. Make sure you have a container the same size as the fluid pan to use in collecting the fluid. Using these methods, you will drain 50% of the fluid. To drain the remaining fluid, you need to get a suitable spray.
You may ask whether a transmission fluid can be bad. Yes, it can be bad, so you need to be careful as it can be hot. If it gets on your body, it can burn you.
9. Fluid Examination
To know the condition inside the transmission pan, you have to examine the fluid. You may find small metal pieces which are as a result of car wear and tear. This is normal, and it should not worry you. But if you see large objects, it is something to bother you. Contact a specialist for advice.
10. Pan Cleaning
To remove all metal pieces and sludge, you have to clean the pan before reinstalling it.
11. Install New Filter and Gasket.
Although it is not a must you change the filter and gasket, replacing them is advisable. However, it becomes a must to replace them when they are cracked, too dirty, or have leaks. When reinstalling a new gasket, apply the particular sealant specified by the manufacturer to fasten them effectively.
Your car may have filters as well. You need to clean them. A solvent is necessary for this task, and you can reuse them once they are dry. Sometimes, the filters are made of cotton or paper. In such a case, you need to replace them when changing the transmission fluid. Besides, in case you want to do the job professionally, you have to install a new pan and plug and fasten it correctly. A new filter ensures clean transmission, and a new gasket ensures there are no leakages.
12. Pour in New Fluid
The transmission pan is clean now, you have reinstalled new gasket and filters, and now it is time to pour in new fluid. Vehicles vary, and so do the transmission fluid. Ensure you follow the manufacturer’s guide to purchasing the right transmission fluid. You will add the fluid from the location of the drop stick. Make sure you use a funnel.
13. Fluid Level Check
Overfilling is not suitable for performance. Therefore, when you are refilling the transmission pan, make sure you put in the correct amount. To know the amount you need to add, consult the user manual. You call also use the drop stick to measure. Also, ensure the vehicle is in the correct checking gear. Several vehicles need to be in a neutral state to give an accurate reading, while others need to be in the park.
14. Start the Engine
You do not need to drive the car. After starting the engine, leave the car for about 20 minutes. This process warms the transmission fluid and spreads it through all transmission components. In case there is a problem with the transmission fluid or the transmission itself, you can identify it within those 20 minutes.
15. Get Rid of Old Fluid
Safely disposing of the old fluid is a critical process because the transmission fluid can cause negative impacts on the environment. Disposing of in water catchment areas can harm marine and aquatic life.
Wash your hands after getting rid of the transmission fluid. Moreover, it is better to take the old transmission fluid to body shops and auto parts shops because they have recycling techniques and programs. In case you do not live near these shops, you can dispose of the fluid in a drop off point.
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You want your car to last longer and to give you a smooth ride throughout its lifespan. For that to happen, it is beneficial to check the quality and level of the transmission fluid frequently. You also need to replace the transmission fluid when its quality starts deteriorating or once you hit the mileage limit.
New vehicles seem hard to service or repair them by yourself. The job can be challenging, and it can be correct when you have to change the transmission fluid. But with the right information, you can do it as if it were a professional. Do not underestimate what you can do. Most of the car repairs you take to mechanics you can do them yourself saving resources.
In case you get stuck while draining the transmission fluid, you can contact a professional for guidance. Professionals are resourceful in terms of information, and it is good to utilize them. But hopefully, with this guide, you will do the job successfully and get your car running smoothly.