Buying Lube for Your Automatic Transmission System
As you know, driving an automatic transmission vehicle requires far less effort than driving a manually configured one. Automatic transmission vehicles are indeed easier to drive, but of course, there's a catch. There always is when things are made easier for you. That catch is increased maintenance. Automatic transmission vehicles require more maintenance than their manual counterparts. It isn't much of a big deal though since most of that only revolves on having to occasionally change the automatic transmission fluid (ATF).
What is ATF? What does it do, exactly?
Automatic transmission fluid is a highly specialized mineral oil. In layman's terms, it's basically lube. ATF is normally of red or green color, which sets it apart from other automotive fluids such as the brake fluid or motor oil. ATF helps keep transmission system components in good condition by cooling and lubricating them. For its vital function, you're going to want to a new supply of ATF flowing through your system every now and then.
When should you change the ATF?
Generally, it's advised that you change your automobile's ATF every 30,000 miles. It still varies though. If you still have your car's manual, the recommended ATF specifications can be found there. You can also check online resources for that information.
Once it's time to change the TF, don't delay in doing so. Not replacing the ATF on time can cause considerable damage to your transmission components as they wouldn't be properly cooled or lubricated. You wouldn't want that of course as that will set you back more cash due to parts repairs or replacements.
What ATF to Buy?
There are numerous variants of automatic transmission fluids in the market. Most of them function pretty much in the same manner though. Basically, all you've got to do is to choose the type of ATF that's appropriate for your car (again, check the manual or online resources for this info) and decide how much ATF you need. One quart of ATF has a price range of $10-$30. You can also opt to buy in bulk (a pack of 12 one-quart bottles), which can cost anywhere from $80-$130. It's up to you whether you want to stock up and save money on ATF by buying in bulk or to merely purchase three to six bottles (the number needed for a full replacement). .
For your convenience, below is a list of automotive brands and the type of ATF that's appropriate for each of them. Obviously, it's impossible to enumerate all brands in here. If your car's make isn't on the list, you can easily find it on the Internet, as always.
- General Motors ? Dexron III to Dexron VI
- Ford ? Mercon, Mercon V, Mercon LV, Mercon SP
- Chrysler ? ATF-plus to ATF-4plus
- Honda ? CVT, Z1
- Toyota ? WS, TO-4
- Nissan ? Nissan Matic-D, J and K
Transmission Basics: Changing Automatic Transmission Fluid
Yes, automatic transmission vehicles are easy to drive, but it won't be smooth sailing for you if you don't change its automatic transmission fluid (ATF) from time to time. Generally, an automatic transmission vehicle needs new ATF every 30,000 miles (to be sure of the exact figure though, refer to your car's manual or online resources). When that time comes, it's recommended that you provide your automatic transmission system with a fresh supply of ATF. Not doing so can lead to damage in the system due to the lack of proper cooling and lubrication. There's no need to worry as we'll guide you in draining your car's old ATF and replenishing it with a new supply.
- 3-6 quarts of ATF (make sure that it's the right kind for your vehicle; again, you can check the manual or online resources)
- New transmission pan gasket
- New transmission filter
- Torque Screwdriver
- Large pan
- Long neck funnel
Step 1: Make sure that your vehicle is parked on a level surface. Afterwards, let the engine idle for a few minutes then turn it off.
Step 2: Use jack stands (or a ramp if you have one) to raise the car.
Step 3: Pop the hood and find the dipstick. The transmission pan, the part that you'll have to work on, sits directly under the dipstick. Now that you know where the pan is, locate it under your car. Depending on your automobile, you may have to remove a few exhaust system parts or the oil pan before you can access the transmission pan.
Step 4: Once the transmission pan is in plain view, it's time to drain your old ATF. FYI, some transmission pans have a convenient drain plug. The drain plug would save you a lot of time as all you have to do is to pull the plug to drain the old ATF. Unfortunately, most transmission pans aren't equipped with a plug. If yours doesn't have one, you'd have to remove the whole transmission pan first. But before you do that, get a large pan and place it directly under the transmission pan. Afterwards, you can start loosening the transmission pan's bolts (don't remove them yet). Be warned that the ATF will start to leak once the pan's bolts are loose. Now, carefully remove the bolts on one side of the transmission pan. The ATF should spill on that side of the pan; therefore, position your catch pan under that area. Once most of the old ATF has been drained, remove the rest of the bolts and pour the remaining ATF into your catch pan. Set the catch pan aside after that.
Step 5: Remove the transmission filter.
Step 6: Use a rag to clean the transmission pan. You may find metal debris in there. You don't have to worry about small particles, but you may have serious transmission system problems if you find particularly large ones.
Step 7: Remove the gasket and its residue from the pan. You can use a screwdriver to carefully scrape off the sticky residue.
Step 8: Install the new transmission filter. Make sure that the filter is positioned properly then reattach the clips or the bolts that secure it in place.
Step 9: You can reinstall the pan (use your new transmission pan gasket) once it's dry. Make sure that you don't over-tighten the bolts (this is where the torque screwdriver comes in) as doing that could damage your new gasket.
Step 10: Finally, you can add the new ATF. Place your long neck funnel in the dipstick tube and start pouring 3 quarts of ATF.
Step 11: Start the engine and check the ATF level on your dipstick. If necessary, add more ATF.