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Changing Transmission Fluid

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by LajoieT, Aug 29, 2005.


  1. LajoieT

    LajoieT I won't let your shadow be my shade...

    Oct 7, 2003
    Western Massachusetts
    Is this something I can do myself? I looked around the web and found some information, but it appears that much of the instructions vary wildly from model to model. It generally didn't sound too difficult (I've been doing my own Oil Changes and A/C recharging for over 10 years now...) but there were a LOT of different methods mentioned, from removing the pan to drain it (and change the screen while you've got it off) to draining it out of the main line going to the radiator, to finding the fill and drain plug and doing it that way (which sounds like the most reasonable answer, but didn't look like it did a good job at getting everything out. They also say to refill it through the dip-stick tube?!?!?!?!??! I KNOW I don't have a funnel ANYWHERE near that small!!!!


    Can anyone point me to a reputable instructional web site? In case it matters, we're dealing with a 1995 Nissan Pathfinder 4WD with the Automatic Trans. but if it goes well I'll also be doing my wife's 2002 Hyundai Elantra 5speed Manual.
     
  2. syciprider

    syciprider Banned

    May 27, 2005
    Inland Empire
    Go to the nearest Kragen or Chief's and buy the Chilton manual for your car. This book will have just about every maintenance or repair procedure for your ride.

    Read the portion on tranny fluid replacement and buy the necessary tools and oil. It's a very easy job.

    You will probably need to rent time on a lift.
     
  3. Selta

    Selta

    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Uhm... can I ask why you want to do this? Really, I know vehicles with 400K on the odometer, two rebuilds on the engine, and nothing done to the tranny... I don't think you need to worry about changing tranny oil, ever. Mike N would know better, though.

    -Ray
     
  4. Trevorus

    Trevorus

    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Wrong wrong wrong. The tranny does need it's fluid changed, but a lot of it depends on how the thing has been driven. If the fluid is EVER brown, change it and the filter. Check your owners manual, or a Chiltons manual and see the maintenance schedule. Do it as often as it says.
     
  5. Trevorus

    Trevorus

    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    The best way, usually is to drop the pan, because you always want to change the filter. That filter picks up all the random metal dust and other gunk, and keeps it from wearing your gears and hydraluics further. Refilling thru the dipstick tube is not out of the ordinary, because it is usually larger than an oil dipstick tube. be sure to get a funnel of the right size. Also, if you are doing this, see if you may need to change differentials fluid. Check front and rear on the 4wd. My 85 ranger needs it's rear diff changed every 60,000. I am sure it hadn't been done before I got it. Also, make sure to always use the lubricant that the manual specifies. Though, usually with tranny fluid, you can't find dextron 2 anymore, and 3 is usually used. But make sure that if it uses ATF, get ATF.
     
  6. Ericman197

    Ericman197

    Feb 23, 2004
    Iowa
    Wouldn't it be more efficient to have someone else do it? I'm just throwing things out there :bag:
     
  7. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Lacey, WA
    Hang tight. Mike N will be around to give you the low down. The rest of these guys are just amateurs. :D

    -Mike
     
  8. Trevorus

    Trevorus

    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Hey, punk. I have kept a ford truck running for years, and it's even 20 years old. And I have a saturn with 185k. Amateur, bah! :spit:

    :rolleyes: :D
     
  9. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    If your fluid is brown, and you have more than 100k miles on it, do not change the fluid! More than likely, the dirt is holding it together, so start saving for a rebuild.

    Otherwise, the only way to do it right is to drop the tranny pan. Change the oil and the filter (it'll be there on the valve body once you get the pan off). Make sure you've got ALL the old gasket material off before putting the pan (with new gasket) back.
     
  10. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Agreed. It's a rather difficult exercise to do that kind of thing. Far better to pay a competent tranny shop a hundred and fifty bucks or so, and while they're in there, they'll give you a heads-up on whatever else might be relevant.

    The trick (of course) is to find a good shop - don't go to one of those dumb "instant 10-minute fluid replacement" places, that are filled with people who hardly know anything more than we do here on TB. :D

    There's only two tranny shops here in my (LA-and-Valley) area, that I trust. One of them is a huge operation, that has 12 bays, and a whole boatload of people that are completely trained, but they're relatively expensive.

    The other one is a small outfit, that has two Ukrainian guys and an Iranian, but they're top-notch, they know exactly what they're doing, and they don't rip anyone off.

    You'll have to ask around a little, probably.

    If you do decide to do the job yourself, I'd recommend having a friend right alongside you, that's done this kind of thing before. A Chilton's manual isn't going to cut it (IMO). Chilton's is good for basic knowledge, but until you've done that kind of thing a few times, next to someone who really knows what they're doing, it's only going to hurt you (and probably your car too).
     
  11. xshawnxearthx

    xshawnxearthx

    Aug 23, 2004
    new jersey
    if your car has high milage and you have never had it done, dont do it now. i brought our van in with 145k on it and the guy asked if i had ever had it changed, and i said no. he said he doesnt suggest doing it because the fluid has been in there for so long, that when it comes out, all the seals will dry out and then i will have to replace them as well.


    if you do it as a scheduled thing, it works good for the car.
     
  12. LajoieT

    LajoieT I won't let your shadow be my shade...

    Oct 7, 2003
    Western Massachusetts
    As for why I want to do it myself, I'm just that kind of guy, I've been the type to take things apart and put them back together since I was a little kid. And if I can save some $$$ and gain a bit of experience in the process, all the better, and my kids will learn in the meantime too since they love to hang out and watch/"help". So I'll be rasing another generation of people who know at least a little bit about the technology that they rely on daily. I've found that a LOT of routine auto maintinenece is MUCH easier than it sounds (the A/C recharge was so simple, I've even done my home Central Air system.) and just needs a bit of research (and sometimes a spare vehicle to get parts you forgot or didn't know you needed before you started) I just had some work done on it because the Check Engine light was on and it turns out the O2 sensor was shorting out. They did that work and the shop gives you a comprehensive list of the condition of the vehicle. I've been using the shop for 20+ years, and trust them explicitly, but I'm also a cheap bastard and don't want to pay for something I can do myself. They're busy enough doing things people can't do for themselves. From their evaluation I'm looking at new Trans Fluid, new belts including the Timing Belt, and possibly new CV joints since the boots are torn. The truck is kinda on the beat side, I've had it for about 6 years and it's pushing 170K or so miles (but still running strong, where's some wood to knock on...) and I'm just trying to get 2 more years out of it till the wife's car payment is done. We really can't afford 2 payments right now since she's at home with the kids.

    I've heard the same thing about Chiltons manuals.

    BTW, the Trans Fluid was changed at least twice that I know of. Once when I bought it (around 60K) and a few years ago when the shop recommended it (a bit after 100K).
     
  13. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    I think what Pacman and Shawnx are saying happened to my wife. She has this '95 Ford Taurus that was handed down to her from her dad and she had a tranny job done on it (At a reputable shop) and just a month or less later she had to have her transmission rebuilt. I can't wait to get rid of that POS. We're getting her a new car in October I think.

    brad cook
     
  14. Dan1099

    Dan1099 Dumbing My Process Down

    Aug 7, 2004
    Michigan
    A competent Tranny shop, non? Jeez, I mean, I knew california was bit more accepting of this kind of thing, but you actually have entirely transgender-staffed automotive shops? Wow. :) :)
     
  15. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    I know what ya mean! I don't remember if you posted in my "Fixing things is fun!" thread but you probably saw it.

    Are you going to change your timing belt yourself? I'm coming up to the point where it needs to be done in a few thousand miles and I don't know if it's hard or not.

    Doing my own stuff has been a valuable thing...especially during times of unemployment and whatnot. I don't do my own oil changes since Wal-Mart gets it done for barely more than it would cost me for the materials and they've always done a competent job but I do stuff like flush the coolant and I'm planning on changing out my fuel filter soon.

    I need to get one of those Chilton manuals too. Can those be had at Autozone or Pep Boys or something?

    brad cook
     
  16. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Fair enough. If you have a broader interest than "rapid replacement", I support you 100%. It's a labor of love though (as I'm sure you know, judging from your post).

    I wish I could spend time like that on my car. There's nothing I'd like better than to tinker with the innards of automobiles.

    But I have friends that are much better than I am, at that kind of thing, and have vastly more experience in that area.

    All I can suggest is, "make use of your resources". And "don't waste your time". Your car is going to go out the window anyway, in five years or whatever, so why bother? Your house is a lot more important though - (I could tell you a pretty funny story in that regard - I actually had Nicky get up on the roof last month, and fix the swamp cooler, which is a huge joke compared to central A/C, but it's the best we've got right now).

    Be smart. Don't waste your time with tinkering - much as it might appeal to your sensibilities - the next car you're going to get, is going to be considerably different from the one you've got right now.

    Unless you want to be one of those guys driving around an old 'Ghia, and keeping it up, and that kind of thing.

    :eyebrow:
     
  17. LajoieT

    LajoieT I won't let your shadow be my shade...

    Oct 7, 2003
    Western Massachusetts
    Was that the one about the Microwave? I posted a bit in that one, but I don't remember if that was the title or not. I was on vacation for a while a bit ago and might have missed a bunch of posts, didn't have time to go through 87 pages of posts....

    I don't know if it's hard or not either (yet). I'm going to look into it because it sure is expensive(!!!!) They said I probably had more than a year on it, but not likely the 2 that I'd like to get out of it.
     
  18. xshawnxearthx

    xshawnxearthx

    Aug 23, 2004
    new jersey
    timing belts can be extremely hard depending on the car. plus you need a timing gun to get it just right after its done.

    i would suggest bringing it to a mechanic or i would call the car manufacturer and ask him if it will damage the car if it breaks. some cars can be driven until the belt breaks, others if the belt breaks, the car is toast.
     
  19. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB

    Jan 28, 2001
    New York
    There's a few ways you can approach the tranny fluid change.

    1) Drop the pan and change the fluid, filter and pan gasket.
    2) Drain the fluid thru the drainplug, if equipped
    3) Have a shop do a tranny flush and filter change.

    Imo and ime #3 is the best way, because you get all the old fluid out that way. Just draining and/or dropping the pan will leave 3 to 4 quarts in the torque converter, and tranny cooler. And (imo) if you're not going to change all the fluid, why bother?

    Beware though, with 170K the tranny can crap out anytime. Even with regular maitenance, things do wear out.

    I also agree with Pacman, if the fluid is really nasty, leave it alone. You'll probably create more problems than you'll solve.

    DigMe- that tranny in a 95 Taurus was probably junk before she had it serviced. They are weak trannys and generally don't last much beyond 100K.

    Fwiw tranny fluid should be changed every 30K miles, unless you do alot of towing, snowplowing etc..... In my case I change mine once a year.
     
  20. Dan1099

    Dan1099 Dumbing My Process Down

    Aug 7, 2004
    Michigan
    I think you mean that the tranny in that 95 taurus was probably junk when it rolled off the assembly line. So was the engine, if it was the 3.8L.