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Automatic Transmission
Fluid and Filter Change

How to Change Fluid and Filter in an Automatic Transmission - Step by Step DIY Procedures


  Note: Honda automatic transmissions have an internal filter,
which is not accessible through these procedures.

  Things you will need
Transmission Filter
Transmission Oil Pan Gasket
Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) 
Tube of Gasket Sealer
Floor Jack or Ramps
Jack Stands
Ratchet and Socket Set

Drain "Catch" Pan
Brake Cleaner or Degreaser
Shop Rags

safety first
fluid change 


Park vehicle on a solid level surface

Set the e-brake

Pull hood release

Place wheel chocks or wooden blocks in front of and behind one of the rear tires

Raise the hood

Using a floor jack, raise the front of the vehicle

Secure with jack stands

WARNING: When working underneath 2 tons of metal, you must be certain the vehicle is secure on the jack stands and that the jack stands are on a hard level surface.  NEVER work underneath a vehicle secured by a jack only.


From underneath the vehicle,My Automatic Transmission position a catch "drain" pan underneath the transmission oil pan.  If your transmission has a drain plug, loosen/remove the plug to drain the fluid.  Many transmissions do not have a drain plug so you will need to remove the fluid pan to drain the fluid.  To do this, remove the bolts from the front and sides of the oil pan.  Then loosen the bolts at the rear of the pan.  (See image).  This allows the pan to tilt downward on one end so the fluid can drain.  Once most of the fluid has drained, hold the pan level and remove the remaining bolts.  Lower the pan and empty the remaining fluid.

NOTE: The pan may require a light tap on the sides with a plastic or rubber mallet to separate it from the transmission.


Using a plastic scraper, scrape the old gasket from the pan.  Then use a wire brush, in needed, to remove any remaining gasket material.  DO NOT gouge the oil pan or transmission mating surfaces or you may end up with a leak.


Using brake cleaner or degreaser, clean inside the pan thoroughly.  Clean clutch debris and/or metal flakes from the magnet.  Fine metal flakes is normal but large metal flakes is indicative of excessive wear of internal parts. 

NOTE: If the magnet is covered with metal - have a transmission technician check out the transmission at your next opportunity.     


If the pan bolts have ever been over-tightened, the area around the bolt holes will be bent inward.  This surface must be flat otherwise a leak may occur.  Follow the procedure shown below to flatten the flange surface of the pan, if needed.

Transmission Oil Pan Check closely around the pan bolt holes.  If pan is bent around the holes, position the pan flange on the edge of a work bench or other solid surface and tap the area with a hammer to flatten, as shown in this illustration.


Back underneath the vehicle, remove the screws holding the transmission fluid filter in place and then pull the filter down and out of the transmission.  The O-ring should be replaced with the new one that comes with the new filter.  If your filter uses a "cup" type seal instead of an O-ring, you can reuse the seal.  Install the new filter in reverse order.  Torque filter mounting bolts according to manufacturer's specifications or tighten snug using a ratchet and socket.


Inspect and clean the pan mating surface.  This is a "machined" surface, therefore if the surface needs to be scraped clean, use a plastic scraper to avoid gouging the surface.  Once clean, apply gasket sealer to the pan flange and press the gasket onto the pan.  Position the pan to the mating surface of the transmission and hand tighten all the transmission bolts.  Tighten transmission pan bolts in a crisscross pattern - tighten per the manufacturer's bolt torque specifications. 

CAUTION: If you do not have the manufacturer's bolt torque specifications readily available, just tighten the pan bolts so they are good and snug.  Pan bolts are easily over-tightened and are easily stripped.  You must be very careful not to strip these bolts.      


The work underneath the vehicle is complete.  Remove catch pan and tools from underneath vehicle.  Using the floor jack, raise the vehicle slightly and remove the jack stands.  Lower vehicle.


In the engine compartment, locate the transmission dipstick.  Pull the dipstick out of the filler tube and set aside.  Insert a small tipped funnel into the filler tube and poor in 3 quarts of transmission fluid. 

Start the engine and allow to warm up to normal operating temperature.  With the brake pedal depressed, move the shifter lever through all gears (pausing slightly between each shift) and then back to Park.  With the engine still at idle, check the fluid level and add more fluid as needed.

Avoid Overfilling: To avoid overfilling, add only a small amount of transmission fluid before rechecking the level.  Repeat until the dipstick shows "Full" or in the "Full Range".  If you overfill with fluid, you will need to drain some of the fluid out.  The easiest way to do this is to remove one of the transmission cooler lines where it enters the radiator.


Check underneath for leaks and then test drive vehicle.  Upon returning from the test drive, check for leaks and then check fluid level again.  Adjust fluid level as needed.  Mark the date and vehicle mileage in a vehicle maintenance log book for future reference.

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