How to Change Transmission Fluid


Check fluid levels before changing the fluid.
Learn how to check transmission fluid
Repair Difficulty
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Easy Medium Hard

Things You'll Need

Transmission Fluid
transmission fluid image

Oil Pan
oil pan image

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Transmission Fluid 101

What is Transmission Fluid, and why is it important to me?


The automatic transmission is one of the most complex components in your vehicle. It has dozens of moving parts, typically under electronic control, and does a lot of work. Most manufacturers recommend periodic automatic transmission fluid changes.


Even though some of the newer automatic transmissions are sealed, most of the automatics still on the road rely on something called Automatic transmission fluid (orATF).
ATF is a light combination of oil and hydraulic fluid used to lubricate the transmission, and also to activate the clutch on high pressure.


Things You'll Need

Transmission Fluid
transmission fluid image

Oil Pan
oil pan image

Step-By-Step Transmission Fluid Change Instructions

Tap each step to check off which ones you've completed
1
Use a car jack to raise your vehicle above the ground.

When using a jack, exercise caution to ensure no accidents. We also suggest installing wooden blocks to the wheels of the opposite end being lifted.

2
Place a container (or drip pan) under the oil pan to catch all the old oil.

Before draining the fluid, make sure the transmission is at normal operating temperature.

3
Loosen the pan fasteners to allow for draining. Once loose the fluid will immediately gush out.

A tip to help keep things clean: Removing all, but the last 4 fasteners at the back of the pan will allow fluid to drain with minimal splatter.

4
Once completely drained, tighten the fasteners.
5
Open the hood, pull out the automatic transmission fluid dip stick, insert a funnel, and pour the new transmission fluid through the funnel.

Check your owner's manual for the recommended type and quantity of transmission fluid.

6
Pull out the funnel, add the dipstick back in, and close the hood.

Transmission Fluid Videos {{ !ctrl.make ? 'by Car' : 'for Your ' + ctrl.make.nm }}

Transmission Fluid 101

What is Transmission Fluid, and why is it important to me?


The automatic transmission is one of the most complex components in your vehicle. It has dozens of moving parts, typically under electronic control, and does a lot of work. Most manufacturers recommend periodic automatic transmission fluid changes.


Even though some of the newer automatic transmissions are sealed, most of the automatics still on the road rely on something called Automatic transmission fluid (orATF).
ATF is a light combination of oil and hydraulic fluid used to lubricate the transmission, and also to activate the clutch on high pressure.


How to Check Transmission Fluid



Step-By-Step Transmission Fluid Check Instructions

Tap each step to check off which ones you've completed
1
Open the hood of your vehicle, and locate the transmission fluid dipstick.

The dipstick will typically have a yellow handle, and may be difficult to reach.

2
Pull out the dipstick using the handle, and wipe off any fluid residue from the stick. Re-dip the stick fully, and pull it back out to see the fluid level on the stick.

Wiping it clean ensures you are measuring the actual fluid level, and not including any splashed-up residue that may falsely indicate higher levels.

3
Check the fluid level on the stick to make sure it's in the right operating range. Refer to the manufacturers recommendations (in your owner's manual) to determine if you need to replace your transmission fluid.

When checking the fluid, be sure to gauge the condition of the fluid. If it's older, it tends to get darker, and in some cases, you can smell a burnt odor. The latter could be a bad sign and may suggest something is wrong with the transmission.