5-Step Guide for Replacing the Old Transmission Pan
If you have a lowered vehicle, the chassis and the transmission are more prone to scraping and denting since they are closer to the ground. The transmission pan is in charge of keeping your transmission from damage. It also keeps the transmission fluid from leaking. So once you've noticed that your transmission slips when you shift into gear, or there is a constant pool of transmission fluid whenever you park your car, then your transmission pan might be leaking due to a crack or a worn-out gasket. Replacing the pan, however, is an easy task. Here's a guide on how to install a new transmission pan.
Required skill level: Intermediate
Needed tools and materials
- Razor scraper
- Socket wrench
- Socket set
- Transmission fluid
- Clean cloth
- Replacement transmission pan
Removing the old transmission pan
Drain the transmission fluid from the pan. Remove the pan from the transmission by unscrewing the gaskets. Keep the screws in a safe place for reassembly later.
Preparing to install the pan
Scrape the surface of the pan using a razor scraper. Make sure that there is no gasket material. Apply a thin bead of oil soluble grease around the top of the pan to prevent the gasket from moving once you install the pan.
Installing the transmission pan
Place the replacement pan to the transmission and bolt them into place using your hands. This is to prevent the bolts to be loose or overly tightened, which may result in leaks. You may retighten them using a socket wrench to seal the pan entirely.
Putting transmission fluid
At the engine compartment, look for the transmission fluid dipstick. It is usually labeled or red in color, and is located at the back portion of the compartment. Pull it out of the tube and then use a funnel to pour the required amount of transmission fluid into it. Now, clean the dipstick with a cloth and replace it into the tube.
Testing the car
Now that your transmission pan is replaced, start the car and keep it on for five to ten minutes. Shift the car from "Park" to the "Low 1" position and back. Check the transmission fluid if it needs to be refilled.
Tips and warnings
- Replace the gaskets or o-rings once you've noticed cracks or other signs of wearing out. This will prevent leaking and loosening of the pan.
- Dispose the old transmission fluid carefully.
Transmission Pan Buyer's Guide
- A car’s transmission is a complex system made up of planetary gear sets for forward and reverse gear ratios.
- Transmission systems, both automatic and manual, use transmission fluid to prevent the gears from prematurely wearing out.
- The transmission pan, as simple and straightforward as it sounds, is essential in maintaining and storing the right amount of transmission fluid.
- Usually, the transmission oil pan is mounted to the bottom of the transmission assembly. It is held in place by at least 6 bolts.
- To know the right specification for your car’s transmission pan, look for a factory service manual dedicated to the exact year, make, and model of your car.
- One of the common causes of transmission pan leak is due to a loose transmission pan.
- With the lack of transmission fluid, the moving parts inside the transmission box may grind against each other and may result in chipped-off metal particles that can ruin the transmission pan and fluid lines.
- You could spend around $8 to $433 on a transmission pan replacement depending on the quality, brand, and the package it comes with.
A car’s transmission is a complex system made up of planetary gear sets for forward and reverse gear ratios. It allows drivers to shift gears depending on the number of speeds that a specific vehicle has.
Transmission systems, both automatic and manual, use transmission fluid to prevent the gears from prematurely wearing out. Regardless of whether it’s a manual or automatic transmission fluid, there needs to be a sump or reservoir for storing the fluid when the car is not running.
In this guide, you’ll learn more about your car’s transmission oil pan, signs for when it needs to be replaced, causes of leaks, and replacement cost.
What is a transmission pan?
No existing transmission system can function without the transmission pan. This component, as simple and straightforward as it sounds, is essential in maintaining and storing the right amount of transmission fluid. Along with it are the transmission pan gasket that prevents the fluid from leaking out even when hydraulic pressure is applied, a fluid drain plug for transmission fluid flushing, heatshield, and a particle magnet.
Where is the transmission pan located?
Usually, the transmission oil pan is mounted to the bottom of the transmission assembly. It is held in place by at least 6 bolts. Now, the location of the transmission assembly may vary per drivetrain. Front-wheel drive vehicles have the transmission either on the left or right underneath the engine bay. Rear-wheel drive vehicles, on the other hand, have it hanging right under the center console hump.
What are the torque specs for the transmission pan?
Since it’s important for the transmission pan to seal the transmission fluid as tightly as possible, torquing the bolts to the right specifications is important. There is no universal torque specification for transmission pan as there are varying shapes, sizes, and designs in the market. To know the right specification for your car’s transmission pan, look for a factory service manual dedicated to the exact year, make, and model of your car.
What causes a transmission pan leak?
The worst thing you can face is a transmission fluid leak. A leak can occur in various places where the transmission fluid flows. Among the common places where it can occur is the transmission pan.
One of the common causes of transmission pan leak is due to a loose transmission pan. As mentioned, the transmission pan should be torqued to specification to ensure a tight seal. Make sure to tighten all bolts in the correct torquing pattern whenever after replacing the filter.
If your transmission pan is tightly sealed but you’re still losing transmission fluid, inspect the drain plug and the surface of the pan. Leaks can come out of an unsecured drain plug or cracked transmission pan. Rocks and road debris can easily damage the transmission pan, especially at high speeds, as there’s nothing to protect its underside. This type of damage may require an immediate replacement.
Another common cause of transmission fluid leak is warped or worn-out transmission pan gasket. But even when the gasket is in great condition, leaks can still happen due to warped edges of the transmission pan where the gasket sits. Thoroughly inspect the transmission pan if you are suspecting a leak.
Symptoms of a leaking transmission pan
A faulty transmission pan will eventually lead to low transmission fluid levels. Low transmission fluid is harmful to all parts inside the transmission system. With the lack of transmission fluid, the moving parts inside the transmission box may grind against each other and may result in chipped-off metal particles that can ruin the transmission pan and fluid lines.
You’ll know your transmission fluid is depleting if you experience one or more of these symptoms. Remember that symptoms may differ depending on the severity of the leak.
Burnt sweet smell
Healthy transmission fluid should have a clear red or light brown appearance. Low transmission fluid won’t be enough to lubricate all moving parts inside the transmission box. As the metal parts grind, the fluid slowly burns out and turns dark.
The burning will be accompanied by a burnt smell. Transmission fluids have a unique smell when burnt and it’s almost the kind of bad sweet smell.
Dark brown puddle underneath your car
Leaking transmission pan can be easily traced by observing the ground under your vehicle. If you see a thick dark brown puddle forming directly under the location where the transmission is mounted, there’s a strong chance your transmission pan is damaged and is needing an immediate fix.
Low transmission fluid level can also affect engine performance as it often leads to transmission failure. Transmission failure can cause your engine to stall on occasions. But if the damage is severe, you may face frequent engine stalling and rough idling.
Difficulty shifting gears
Transmission failure can make it difficult for the gear to shift smoothly. Shifting problems include jerking or surging every time the car is shifting gears. Seek a mechanic’s help as the transmission may be tricky to troubleshoot.
Unusual noises when shifting gears
You may also hear weird noises as the gears grind with other metal parts inside the transmission assembly. These sounds are characterized as whining or metal clunking. This is the beginning of part wearing and is never a good sign. Act immediately if you notice any of the symptoms listed.
How much does a transmission pan cost
Prices for OE transmission pan replacement may vary based on where you’re getting them. You could spend around $8 to $433 depending on the quality, brand, and the package it comes with. There are individually sold transmission pan for regular replacement jobs while kits are also available for bigger needs.
To find the right part for your vehicle, indicate your vehicle’s year, make, and model under the search bar. This will narrow down the results shown on the page for an easier and hassle-free online shopping experience.
AC Delco vs. B&M: The Clash of the Transmission Pans
More than serving as a reservoir for the transmission fluid, your car's transmission pan also contributes to the overall efficiency and performance of your car. That is, if you have a pan with a larger fluid capacity for better transmission cooling. But if your pan is already leaking due to cracks or a worn-out gasket, then it should be replaced immediately. Several OE replacement brands promise that their products are durable and of high quality. We put into test two brands that offer OE replacement transmission pans: AC Delco and B&M.
B&M offers three material types for transmission pans: steel, cast aluminum, and aluminum. AC Delco, on the other hand, manufactures only steel transmission pans. Clearly, B&M has the advantage for car owners who are particular with the materials of replacement car parts.
B&M transmission pans have a deeper and larger reservoir, providing about four quarts of increased fluid capacity, compared to AC Delco pans. This means that B&M pans can offer more cooling effect to the transmission due to their deep style.
Ease of Installation
We installed AC Delco and B&M pans to two Chevrolet Cavalier vehicles to know which of the pans is easier to install. Since the two pans are direct-fit products, we didn't have a hard time installing them. The B&M transmission pan, however, didn't require modifying the dipstick, but the AC Delco pan did.
We compared the prices of the steel transmission pans of AC Delco and B&M. B&M steel pans cost from $50 to $60, while AC Delco offers pans as low as $18 up to $90. So if you have a tight budget when buying a replacement transmission pan, you should go for AC Delco.
WINNER: AC Delco
An affordable AC Delco steel transmission pan is backed by a one-year or 12,000-mile limited warranty. Unfortunately, a B&M steel pan is not covered by any warranty by the manufacturer. The brand offers the warranty to their cast aluminum and aluminum transmission pans only.
WINNER: AC Delco
If you are looking for an affordable transmission pan that comes with a warranty of up to one year, then an AC Delco steel pan is your bet. But if you are willing to spend for a durable and more efficient transmission pan for your car, then you should go for a B&M aluminum or cast aluminum pan.
How to Choose a Good Transmission Pan
To keep your transmission components on the right track, you need to keep them lubricated every time you drive your car. You see, proper lubrication reduces the heat generated by friction coming from two meeting parts. Your transmission fluid is kept safe and secure by the transmission pan?a container that serves as an oil catch basin when you turn off your vehicle. Overtime, this component can get busted due to the extreme under-the-hood conditions within your ride. If this glitch is left unchecked, you can end up with a cracked or broken pan that is going to give you more problems on the road. To address the problem, you'd better get a good replacement transmission pan right away.
Getting a replacement part for your faulty transmission pan is no joking matter. To make sure you equip your vehicle with the best, look for a pan that is strong, leak free, and easy to maintain. Here are a few choices that you can consider in terms of material:
- Steel - has a polished look; long-lasting
- Aluminum - has a polished look; durable; effectively dissipates heat
- Cast aluminum - efficient; effectively dissipates heats
Since heat is your transmission system's worst enemy, find a pan that will keep your transmission fluid cool and intact. We recommend a pan that is made of aluminum because this type of material conducts heat quickly.
A typical transmission pan will cost you about 50 to 100 USD. To save money, find one that comes with its own mounting hardware. This will ensure precise fitment that will make your installation a piece of cake.
You will find a lot of OEM replacement transmission pans in the market today. To make sure you get the best for your ride, go for tried and tested brands such as AC Delco, TCI, and Spectre.
If you want better cooling for your hard-working ride, you can install a bigger transmission pan that can contain higher amounts of transmission fluid.
Basic Steps for Transmission Pan Replacement
Are you experiencing difficulties while shifting your gears? If you are, you'd better check your system right away because this might be caused by a faulty transmission pan. You see, this component conserves your transmission fluid by serving as a catch basin once your vehicle is turned off. Overtime, this container can become damaged due to its constant exposure to extreme under-the-hood conditions. When this happens, you'll have transmission fluid shortage and your components will not be lubricated properly. This will definitely cause stress on some components in your assembly, so the best thing you can do is replace your damaged pan, and get your vehicle back on track in no time.
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Things to Prepare:
- Drain pan
- Drain bucket
- Socket set
- Socket wrench
- Transmission fluid
- Jack and jack stands
- New transmission pan
- New transmission pan gasket
Step 1: Before you start, make sure that the parking brake is set and the rear wheels are chocked.
Step 2: Raise and support your vehicle using the jack and jack stands to get a better view of your assembly. Locate your oil pan under your car and place the drain pan right beneath it.
Step 3: Start to remove the mounting bolts of the pan one by one. You can start at one side and gradually make your way towards the other end. Since a lot of oil will spill when you remove the pan, it would be best to take out a few bolts first to allow the fluid to flow. Make sure your drain pan is positioned right below so it can catch the oil right away. To increase the flow of fluid, you can pry out the pan to open it.
Step 4: Once the transmission pan has been completely removed, there will still be a lot of fluid coming from the transmission itself. Also, the torque converter might seep out some fluid, so to avoid making a mess out of your garage, place the drain bucket right beneath where your transmission pan was installed.
Step 5: Changing your transmission pan gasket is very ideal if you're changing your transmission pan. To attach the new gasket, lay it flat around the surface of your new pan using your hands. For proper installation, make sure the holes for the bolts in the gasket and pan match each other.
Step 6: Mount your brand-new transmission pan by bolting it using your hands. Once all the bolts are in place, use a socket wrench to tighten them in a crisscross pattern. Double check your mounting hardware to see if they are securely in place.
Step 7: Remove the drain bucket underneath your assembly and slowly lower down your vehicle to the ground.
Step 8: Open your hood and remove the transmission fluid dipstick that's located at the back of the engine compartment. Replace the dipstick with a funnel and pour the necessary amount of transmission fluid in your system. Return the dipstick and pull it out again to check your fluid levels. Repeat this step until your system's transmission fluid is fully replenished.
Step 9: Start your and car and leave it for 5 minutes. Slowly shift your gears to test your transmission. After a while, park your car and keep it running while you check your transmission fluid levels once again. Refill it if necessary.