How to Remove and Replace and Automatic Transmission RWD
We are a team of ASE certified technicians that created this guide for
you to save money by doing the job yourself, or at least see what you are paying for
when having the job done by a repair shop or dealer.
What Goes Wrong?
An automatic transmission is designed with many internal parts which over
time can fail causing the unit to malfunction. In this case the unit must be
removed for a rebuild or replacement. There are other reasons for removal as
well such as a rear main seal or engine oil pan gasket replacement.
How Much Does it Cost?
A shop will charge "book time" on a job like this which can range from 5 to 9
hours depending on the vehicle's configuration. When doing this job yourself 4
jack stands, a hydraulic jack and a set of tools are needed along with a
transmission jack rental from the local auto parts store. For
exact labor times and instructions on specific models please visit
AllData DIY or
ask one of our experts to help.
Let's Jump In!
Start with the vehicle on level ground and
safely up on four jack
stands, be sure to have plenty of clearance to work under the vehicle. Have
the negative battery cable disconnected. A fluid catch basin will be used as
well to gather any fluid that might spill during the job. Also, put the vehicle in neutral with the parking brake off.
Start by removing the
drain plug to help drain the fluid from the
unit, have the fluid catch basin ready. If a drain plug is not featured,
loosen the transmission pan and allow the fluid to drain, once complete retighten
Spray the exhaust mounting bolts with WD40 or equivalent to aid in the
removal of the exhaust system.
This will add clearance helping to make the job easier and more accessible.
Start by removing the oxygen sensors or wiring connectors, once the system is removed set the system off to the
Use a marker or piece of chalk to scribe a line to help keep the
orientation of the driveshaft in relation to the differential. This helps
keep the driveline balanced which avoids vibrations while the vehicle is
operating. Remove the bolts from the driveshaft and gently side it out of
the transmission tail shaft.
Remove the starter
motor, this is why the battery needs to be disconnected to avoid
electrical sparks. There will be an upper and lower mounting bolt or nut,
also use care when removing the battery cable and trigger wires to not crack
the solenoid. Carefully remove the starter and set it to the side.
There will be an electrical connector which controls the transmission
and various sensors which will need to be disconnected. These connectors can
be mounted on the transmission or slightly away somewhere in the wiring
On the drivers side there will be a shifter cable which comes from the
inside of the car that controls which gear you are in. Remove the mounting
clips or bolts to disconnect the cable (electrically shifted vehicles do
not have this feature).
There is an inspection cover which is used to access the torque
converter mounting bolts or nuts that needs to be removed. Some transmission
will have a torque converter cover which serves the same purpose.
Fluid cooler lines run from the transmission to the radiator. Use a
line wrench (not
shown) and back up the line fittings with a normal wrench (shown), remove
both lines, a small amount of fluid may drip out.
The transmission torque converter is attached to the flex plate of the
engine. This is achieved by nuts or bolts, first remove the access port (if
equipped). If you don't see the nuts or bolts, a breaker bar can be used at
the front of the engine (balancer bolt) to rotate the engine (clockwise
only) until you can see the fasters, there will be three or four,
continue until all are removed.
Bell housing bolts are used to hold the transmission to the engine,
there will be two on the left side, two on the right side and two on the top
(most cases). These must be removed or loosened in stages, loosen the bottom
bolts one on each side, then remove the remaining bolts on each side. The
top bolts we will address further down this guide.
Watch the Transmission Removal Video!
When completed continue down the guide for additional helpful information
A transmission jack will need to be used at this point of which there
are two types. The one featured in this guide is the type that is used with
a car lift, most likely the one you will be using is a floor model which is
Position the jack cradle under the pan and secure it using a chain or
strap which will keep the transmission from wandering around on the jack
while maneuvering it during removal. Raise the transmission slightly to take
the weight off on the crossmember.
The rear of the transmission is mounted to the vehicle by the
transmission crossmember and transmission mount. Remove the mounting bolts both at the frame and
at the transmission mount and remove the crossmember.
Now, we can lower the rear of the transmission which will help us gain access to the
top two transmission bell housing bolts.
Here is one of the two bolts, use a long 1/2 inch extension and a
universal impact socket, loosen and remove the bolt, repeat this procedure for the
opposing top bolt as well.
These are the last remaining bolts before the transmission will come out
from the vehicle, one on each side, remove the bolts and wiggle the rear of
the transmission, it should break loose from the engine and be freestanding
on the transmissions jack. You may need to use a large pry bar between the
engine and transmission and if that doesn't work recheck making sure all bell housing bolts have been removed.
The transmission will need to be slid back slightly before it detaches from
Now, gently lower the transmission while looking for any wiring or
cables that you might have missed. Also, hold the
torque converter in place so it
doesn’t fall forward and out of the transmission.
If you are rebuilding or having the transmission rebuilt there is no
worries when reinstalling the unit, but if you have a replacement
transmission make sure they are the same by checking the driveshaft spline,
torque converter mounting studs or bolts and the electrical connectors.
Reinstall the new or rebuilt transmission onto the transmission jack
using the safety hold downs.
If your torque converter is designed with studs you must line them up
with the holes in the flex plate before you start installing the bell housing
bolts or you will damage the transmission.
A main point when reinstalling the transmission is the alignment from
the engine to the transmission, when correct it makes the installation much
easier. This is done by eyeballing the gap between the engine and
transmission, also make sure any loose wiring does not get caught between
Reassemble the remainder of the job in reverse order of the removal, once
complete reconnect the battery while checking for heavy sparks (which is
telling the starter wiring is attached incorrectly), then tighten the cable.
Pour the correct type of transmission fluid (about five quarts) into the
dipstick tube using a funnel. Some transmission's will not have a fill tube,
in this case the fluid is pushed into the transmission through a fill port
on the side or pushed upward from a port in the fluid pan. Then start the
car and allow it to idle, finish filling the transmission with fluid until
full. Recheck the job for leaks and then the fluid level after several miles of
When replacing an automatic transmission consider changing the transmission fluid cooler as well. This
cooler is located inside the radiator and can contain metal partials from the old transmission so it's a good idea to
replace the radiator so it does not
affect the new unit. Transmissions are heavy and a little awkward but removing a transmission is not as
difficult as it sounds. A transmission can fail in many ways but some of the
most popular malfunctions include clutch slippage, internal breakage and fluid
leaks. While some repairs can be done with the transmission in the vehicle for
major repairs the transmission must be removed.
After Start Up
Inspect under and inspect for fluid leaks, recheck fluid levels.
Listen for strange noises or irregular shifting patterns and report them to
the manufacturer or builder.