How to change transmission filter and transmission flush

  • 2001 KIA SPECTRA
  • 2.8L
  • 4 CYL
  • 135,000 MILES
My car's transmission fluid is burnt! Is there a DIY video or something, on changing transmission fluid and filter?
Do you
have the same problem?
Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 AT 3:19 PM

1 Reply

You're trying to save something that likely is beyond saving. When the fluid is burned, it's because the clutch plates have been seriously overheated and the friction material is going to start flaking off and chewing up the rubber seals. New fluid isn't going to solve that or prolong the life of the transmission.

Replacing the filter is pretty much the same on any vehicle so if you're looking for a video, it doesn't have to be for your specific model. The only thing that might make it easier on yours is a lot of imports include a drain plug in the pan. For all others, you have to remove most of the pan bolts, and just loosen a couple to act as a hinge, then you tap, poke, pry, or pound as necessary to break the seal on the pan gasket. One side will drop down, and most of the old fluid will end up in the drain pan, but you'll still get splashed with some. The goal is to take a shower in transmission fluid, not a bath!

Most pans don't use a gasket anymore. They typically use sealant from a tube. The old stuff has to be fully cleaned off both surfaces. Unbolt the filter to replace it. More fluid will run out from there and down your arm. If the new filter came with a pan gasket, I'd still use a light film of sealant on both sides to make removal easier next time. The number one cause of leaks is over-tightening that gasket and splitting it.

If you need to use sealant in a tube, be absolutely certain there is no hint of transmission fluid on either surface or it won't bond there and seal. For extra insurance, use a tube of the gray sealer, (not the black stuff), from the Chrysler dealer's parts department. That stuff will bond through a film of oil but it's harder to get the pan off next time.

It's smart to use a torque wrench on the pan bolts, especially to prevent splitting a new pan gasket. When just sealant is used it is still real easy to over-tighten-pan bolts and strip the threads. I have a couple of fixes for that, that do not involve removing the pan again.

Be aware that only half of the old fluid drains out when the pan is removed. The rest is in the clutch packs, valve body, and passages. To get it all out you need a professional flush machine and lots of new fluid. Before you start this procedure, be sure you have a dipstick tube where you can refill the system. Some cars, Fords in particular, have gone to sealed transmissions that require special equipment to inject the new fluid. The only purpose of that I can think of is to force more do-it-yourselfers to go back to the dealer.
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Friday, October 24th, 2014 AT 1:20 AM

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