the manual transmission fluid is a normal part of maintenance that commonly
gets overlooked when working on your car. Why change the fluid? Just like
engine oil, transmission fluid wears out over time due to heat and wear. In
this tech article, I will go over the steps necessary to drain out the old
fluid and fill the tranny with new fluid. Keep in mind that this article is
written with the BMW E36 3 Series in mind, however this article applies to
nearly every car with a manual transmission.
first step is to get in the car and drive it around a few miles. What this
will do is heat up the fluid. Transmission fluid is a lot thicker than
engine oil, and will drain much easier when warm.
the first step in changing the fluid is to jack up all four wheels. This is
necessary to provide you with the clearance to get under the car, and access
the fill and drain plugs on the transmission. For those of you who are not
familiar with jacking up a car, I highly recommend Wayneís article on
jacking up the E36 (insert link here please) Iíd like to take this time to
stress the importance of safety. It is well worth the money to invest in a
set of quality jack stands. You never want to rely on a jack to keep a
vehicle supported. while working on your vehicle
the vehicle firmly supported, the next step is to crawl under the car and
locate the transmission. It may be a good idea to wear a pair of goggles
while doing this, as dirt, oil and grime can easily fall in your eyes. Crud
like this seems to have a preternatural ability to fall directly in my eyes.
Use goggles and be safe.
look at the transmission, you will see a bolt on the bottom of the
transmission housing, directly behind the bellhousing. This is the
transmission fluid drain plug. Place a suitable drain tray directly under
this bolt. Now, fully loosen and remove the bolt. Be careful not to drop the
plug in the drain tray. Transmission fluid is one of the WORST smelling
substances on earth, mainly due to the high sulphur content. If you get
transmission fluid on your clothes, you will never get the smell off. So use
caution. Let the transmission drain for about an hour. This should be plenty
of time to drain out all the old fluid.
all the old fluid is drained, use a rag to clean up any fluid that may have
splashed or spilled around the transmission. Once clean, re-install the
drain plug and torque it to 37 ft/lbs.
next step is to fill the transmission with the new fluid. Look up at the
passenger side of the transmission. You will see the fill port for the new
fluid. Remove this bolt. This is where you fill the tranny with fresh fluid.
a good idea to use a siphon or pump in order to get the fluid in the tranny
due to the location of the fill port. Just stick one end of the fill hose
into the tranny and start pumping. When transmission fluid starts to
overflow out of the fill port, stop pumping. Overflow indicates that the
tranny is full. Use a rag to clean the outside of the transmission and get
all the old fluid off the gearbox. If you donít, believe me, youíll
start smelling it as the car heats up. For me, this smell is particularly
nauseating. Now clean and re-install the fill plug and torque it to 37
is a good time to clean the surrounding area around the transmission. Now,
carefully lower the car.
Well, there you have it - it's
really not too difficult at all. If you would like
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