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Easy and Correct Way to Change Your Transmission Fluid Without Removing the Pan

Contrary to what car manufacturers and dealers are saying, newer model cars actually need a transmission fluid change every 30,000 miles says this popular YouTube channel mechanic. Here’s why and how you can do it yourself without having to remove the transmission fluid pan.


Transmission Oil Change is Necessary Contrary to What We’ve Been Told

According to YouTube channel sensation Scotty Kilmer who has been doing automotive video warnings and helpful demonstrations for years on how to take care of your car and save money with his DIY advice, the idea that transmission fluids in today’s cars never need changing is “bunk.” Sure, the fluid is supposed to be good enough to last the lifetime of the transmission, but that transmission is really only warranted for maybe 60,000 miles.

If you want your new car to last well beyond its transmission warranty and avoid having to buy a new transmission in the future, he highly recommends that transmission oil really needs to be changed every 30,000 miles.

A Review of Past Posts About Sealed Transmissions

Earlier we had learned about how that the non-dipstick modern car with a reputedly sealed transmission for life is really a deception perpetrated by many people in the car business. And, that servicing your automatic transmission yourself as a money-saving DIY garage project is well within the capabilities of anyone with just a few tools and a little common sense instruction.

In those discussions we showed you how to inspect your transmission oil when there is no dipstick for the transmission on the model of car you have, as well as how to change the transmission fluid and inner filter by dropping the pan and reinstalling a new gasket.

In today’s article on transmission care, however, we will learn how to drain the oil without having to drop the transmission pan; and then, refill the transmission to its correct level with Scotty’s tips that makes this a simple maintenance job the car owner can do himself.

Changing Transmission Fluid Simplified

That said, here is a commonsense demonstration of how to save yourself hundreds of dollars in service and $4,000 to $8,000 in replacement transmission costs, by following Scotty’s transmission oil maintenance you can do in your driveway with just a few tools.

A Few Caveats to the Video

While a useful video, there are a few caveats and reminders toward servicing your transmission:

• This method is not a fluid flush, but a fluid replacement. In practice, draining the fluid will not typically result in all of the old fluid being removed, a good amount of it remains within the transmission. However, adding some new fluid replacement is acceptable maintenance. Some people recommended going a few rounds of adding and draining fluid to ensure nearly-all new fluid replacement.

• If you are unfamiliar with your vehicle and the video instruction does not correlate exactly with your car---get familiar. Consult multiple service manuals covering the make and model of your car and/or buy a real service manual specific to your vehicle. If something does not look right---stop. Go back and do some research or find some help until you are sure of what you are doing.

• Always, always, always practice safety. Protective eyewear and good quality jack stand should always be between you and your car.

And finally…

However, if you suspect that your transmission is already on its last gear, here is an informative article on used car transmission problem options you need to know.

For more about car maintenance, care and repair take a look at some of these helpful articles on how to find hidden problems in a used car before buying it; and, what tire repair sealant kits really work when your tire goes flat.

COMING UP NEXT: A review of a used Chevy Silverado and why it is a smart buy.

Timothy Boyer is Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily automotive-related news.


Brien (not verified)    July 1, 2023 - 5:34PM

I watch Scotty all the time and appreciate his advice, though sometimes he is short on details. One major question I had was why is a transmission flush bad even on lower mileage cars. I understood why it could be bad for high mileage situations since something like clogging with the sediments could occur, but Scotty, and your very helpful page here never go into why a flush is not recommended even for lower mileage, and there are no details or mechanics of why. If some people as you say even do a series of changes at one time to get most of the fluid to be replaced isn't that almost tantamount to what a flush does? This makes me think it might be high pressure of a flush that does it all at once, where doing sequential "changes" is less violent to the system. I'm only guessing, but would be curious to know what your knowledge or reasoning on this was based on. Thanks.