Thinking of changing the transmission fluid? (Full Version)

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andyp -> Thinking of changing the transmission fluid? (9/10/2010 19:21:27)

If you've never done it before perhaps the following photos will show what a straightforward little job it is.

Before you start you need to get a few bits in. In addition to the fluid you'll need a new gasket for the pan and a new filter.

Notice I have bought a 1 litre bottle in addition to the 5 litre can. You're not going to need the full 6 litres as a fair bit will remain in the torque converter and not run out when you take the pan off but you try pouring fluid from that big can into the dipstick hole. The bottle comes with a spout so use that and then refill it from the 5 litre can

This is the pan you need to remove. It looks like something you'd cook a turkey in

Work your way around the bolts that secure the pan but leave a couple undone a few turns at the front. These will hold the pan while you gently release it from the transmission. If it is tight don't be tempted to force a screwdriver into the gap to break it free as you'll damage the gasket face. If you check you'll see that the edge of the pan is slightly proud of the transmission casing and can be lightly tapped down with a rubber mallet to break the seal.

When it releases be ready for fluid to pour out so have something to collect it. You can see here how the bolts you left it will hold the pan at an angle while most of the fluid comes out

Once the deluge has finished undo the remain bolts and lower the pan to reveal the filter and other gubbins. If you twist the filter from side to side while pulling down it will release easily. Compare it to you new filter. More than likely the new filter will have a sealing ring on the neck that is missing from the old one. You'll find it left behind inside the hole the filter was plugged into. Being careful not to damage the surface of the metal prise it out with a small screwdriver (if you have a small seal remover so much the better).

Have a look at the fluid that is in the pan. It won't be as clean as the new stuff but it should still be distinctly pink. If it is brown and mucky something has been burning.

Clean the pan out really well looking for any debris that might foretell of future problems. Now comes the most time consuming part of the job. Very carefully clean the gasket face on the pan and on the transmission case. I favour the end of a Stanley blade used flat as a scraper. These surfaces really do need to be flat and clean to ensure a good oil tight seal. You should not be using any sort of goo to get a seal. Clean faces and a new gasket seal perfectly well (and come apart nice and easily next time).


When your gasket surfaces are nice and clean fit the filter

It's now just a matter of refitting the pan. Start with one bolt screwed in just enough to hold as you want the gasket to remain free to move at the moment. Work your way around the pan adding the rest of the bolts, checking all the time that the gasket is in place. Once you have done the lot work around again a couple of times gradually nipping them up to the correct torque.

Add about as much fluid as you took out. Somewhere round about 3.5 litres is about right to start. Start the engine and cycle up and down through the gears before returning to park. Now check the fluid level as per your manual (engine idling, transmission in park - note there are different reading for hot and cold fluid).

That's all there is to it but do remember to look underneah to make sure that everything is oil tight.


jaggythistle -> RE: Thinking of changing the transmission fluid? (9/10/2010 20:05:36)

Great post Andy!
I've got a filter kit somewhere and was putting it off, might just have a wee crack at it now!.....if i can squirm under the van! [:D]

I always appreciate these posts!


bigal -> RE: Thinking of changing the transmission fluid? (9/10/2010 20:33:31)

good post andy as i was going to do the same after the london meet

englishastro -> RE: Thinking of changing the transmission fluid? (9/10/2010 20:41:46)

John, yours shouldn't need changing so soon, they changed fluid and filter on my van before I picked it up

95Tintop -> RE: Thinking of changing the transmission fluid? (9/10/2010 21:36:03)

Nice one Andy, i've made it a sticky so it dont get lost, this also reminds me i have a write up to do for Yankeedoodle regards removing the air bag bulb[:)]

tim1987 -> RE: Thinking of changing the transmission fluid? (12/10/2010 1:29:31)


vortec -> RE: Thinking of changing the transmission fluid? (23/12/2010 20:47:51)

but you could use the mrs's dishwasher to clean the pan, just dont let her find out!!

splendid -> RE: Thinking of changing the transmission fluid? (7/1/2011 19:00:53)

Great destructions, thanks…still need to get this done. Just wondering, what about the fluid left in the torque converter? I'm guessing that won't just pour out? Is there a way to flush it or is there not enough left there to worry about it?

Many thanks.

ringotwinky9650 -> RE: Thinking of changing the transmission fluid? (7/1/2011 22:46:15)

Hi Splendid
The longer you can leave it open the more you will get out
but quite a bit will be left in the torque converter.
Make the next change a little earlier diluting the old oil

orange -> RE: Thinking of changing the transmission fluid? (8/1/2011 12:48:53)

I think the only way to get the fluid out of the torque converter is have the transmission flushed, normally just changing it is enough, the only other thing you could do but it's a bit of a pain is change the fluid again after a few hundred miles so the old stuff in the torque converter has been mixed with the new but I wouldn't bother. I don't know why they never fitted a drain plug on the transmission pan it would be much easier, although you can buy an after market one with a plug. When I changed my fluid I put a thin plastic pipe down the transmission filler tube and used a suction pump to remove most of the fluid, it takes longer but when you remove the pan there not much oil to spill.
Don't forget to use the correct fluid which for a 96 is stated to be Dexron III spec. it says 5 quarts (4.73 Ltrs) if not flushing the torque converter which seemed about right when I did mine.

splendid -> RE: Thinking of changing the transmission fluid? (10/1/2011 10:57:35)

Thanks guys! Will change again in a few thousand miles.

splendid -> RE: Thinking of changing the transmission fluid? (19/5/2011 17:06:09)

Finally got round to doing this yesterday, what an amazing difference! Much smoother gear change, no more clonking when pulling away. Cleaned off about 5mm of metal gunk from the magnet so def in need of a good clean out. Couldn't get the filter seal out though, it looked like it had already been replaced with the newer version. Left it in and the new filter seemed to fit in ok anyway… :-)

Guest -> RE: Thinking of changing the transmission fluid? (5/9/2011 13:26:27)

About to order some service parts for my 1996 Astro from Rockauto including a transmission filter kit. Some of the kits refer to 'shallow' and 'Deep' pan - sounds like pizza to me [:D]

Does anyone know which filter kit I need?

Thanks in advance


Great post Andyp - I may even try this procedure myself!

orange -> RE: Thinking of changing the transmission fluid? (5/9/2011 18:02:18)

The standard pan fitted to the bottom of the transmission is what they call shallow, However it can be replaced for a deeper pan, the idea is it  holds a bit more transmission fluid to help keep it cooler. So if you change the filter and you have an after market deep pan you need a filter with a longer tube on it or the filter wouldn't reach the bottom of the pan. Now you just have to know what pan you have, chances are its the standard shallow factory fitted one but I guess you will have to peer under and take a look to make sure. Just look at the  pictures andyp has included and you should be able to tell quite easily if yours looks deeper.

Guest -> RE: Thinking of changing the transmission fluid? (6/9/2011 9:42:09)

Cheers Orange, I will take a look.



Ben -> RE: Thinking of changing the transmission fluid? (20/9/2011 17:56:34)

Sorry to bump this thread again but link a numpty I forgot to order the transmission filter when I did the major service and have only just realised!

The van is fitted with a shallow sump so I am guessing the correct filter is the one in the link below?

If someone could let me know I'm on the right track before I order it i'd really appreciate it. Should the filter come with a gasket or is that ordered separately?

orange -> RE: Thinking of changing the transmission fluid? (21/9/2011 11:57:55)

That looks like the correct one, the shallow pan is the normal standard fit so most filters sold will these, the deep pan is an after market item so deep pan filters will be much less common. Many UK suppliers should have these in stock as it's a normal service item.

Ben -> RE: Thinking of changing the transmission fluid? (21/9/2011 12:15:24)

Thanks Orange, I was waiting for you to pop in and reply. Thanks again for your help and knowledge, should this come with a gasket or will I need to purchase one separately?

chevydancer -> RE: Thinking of changing the transmission fluid? (21/9/2011 13:03:30)

The filter should come with a new gasket, mine did.

orange -> RE: Thinking of changing the transmission fluid? (23/9/2011 15:12:57)

As chevydancer has said they normally come as a kit which includes filter, filter seal (or o-ring) and new transmission pan gasket, Mine did when I ordered it from US Auto. If you order one from Rock though what you receive may depend on which make of filter you buy.

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