ATF fluid drain and fill question - am I a boob?
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Thread: ATF fluid drain and fill question - am I a boob?

  1. #1
    crv|oc Rank: Member
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    ATF fluid drain and fill question - am I a boob?

    Hi guys:

    To save $90, I drained and refilled the trans fluid, and now feel like a complete idiot.

    Everything I have read says that the capacity is about 3 quarts for a drain and fill (slightly less). I have added about 3.5, but cannot get a reading on the dipstick unless the vehicle is cold. At cold it is slightly below the cold line.

    I have followed the manual guide for checking hot (running it until the fans run, shut down and wait 60 secs before checking), but do not see fluid on the stick (some on the back side - smeared).

    I don't want to overfill - and there have been no leaks previously - so I cannot decide if I am completely incompetent with a dipstick. What am I doing wrong? Only thing I can think of is that the trans was under-filled by the dealer at some point. (I don't recall seeing the maintenance minder for transmission, but the service may have been handled by my wife at the dealer I suppose).


    2009 EX-L

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  3. #2
    crv|oc Rank: Silver
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    Are you sure the fluid isn't so clean that it's hard to see on the stick?

    I know when I do an oil change (crankcase) it is really hard to see the fresh oil on the stick. You have to look for the reflection in the light to see it.
    2013 EX FWD 5AT - Mountain Air Metallic (wife considers it HER's)
    2011 Accord Coupe V-6 EX-L w/NAV 5AT full HFP treatment installed at the factory (Honda Corp was 1st owner) Taffeta White (wife won't even ride in it now that we have the CR-V)

    2002 Accord V-6 EX-L 4-dr Taffeta White (sold)
    2000 Ody EX Granite Green Metallic (sold)
    1983 Accord EX 4-dr 5-spd Metallic Grey (sold)
    1980 Accord 2-dr 5-spd Sand Beige (sold)
    (and at least 3 others that the kids have owned while they were at home)

  4. #3
    crv|oc Rank: Member
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    Good point - the fluid was pretty clean. I had the same problem with the crankcase (made the jump to synthetic finally - which seems REALLY clear). I even looked using a flashlight still couldn't tell. We finally have some hot weather and tonight I checked it after the car sat for a bit. ATF fluid was about halfway. I hope this is accurate after sitting. I'm used to domestics and checking with a running vehicle. The CRV dipstick location is also a bit of a problem - seems like I always hit the radiator hose on the way out.

    It just surprised me that the fill spec was off by so much - or my level was so low despite not showing any leaks.

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  6. #4
    crv|oc Rank: Junior
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    No boob, just careful...

    Quote Originally Posted by chet96 View Post
    Good point - the fluid was pretty clean. I had the same problem with the crankcase (made the jump to synthetic finally - which seems REALLY clear). I even looked using a flashlight still couldn't tell. We finally have some hot weather and tonight I checked it after the car sat for a bit. ATF fluid was about halfway. I hope this is accurate after sitting. I'm used to domestics and checking with a running vehicle. The CRV dipstick location is also a bit of a problem - seems like I always hit the radiator hose on the way out.

    It just surprised me that the fill spec was off by so much - or my level was so low despite not showing any leaks.
    I think the average on these pages is close to 3.5 from guys that actually measure how much comes out.

    If the vehicle is on a slope with the drain lower than level, you will likely get more out. I believe someone got 4 quarts out by parking on a slope on purpose.

    I say the more you can get out the better.

    It sounds like yours will be full up with around 3.75?

  7. #5
    crv|oc Rank: Member
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    It was probably low to begin with, possibly due to a previous change. Just slowly add and re-check as you go.

  8. #6
    crv|oc Rank: Member
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    You have to hold the dipstick at just the right angle to see the fluid/oil. And new ATF and synthetic oil is very clear.

  9. #7
    crv|oc Rank: Member
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    thanks....appreciate the info. I'll just keep adding slowly - it's pretty close when hot now. so I just have to add a few more ounces. probably over-engineering this a bit....

  10. #8
    crv|oc Rank: Junior
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    Does it shift different?

    Quote Originally Posted by chet96 View Post
    thanks....appreciate the info. I'll just keep adding slowly - it's pretty close when hot now. so I just have to add a few more ounces. probably over-engineering this a bit....
    It came with Z1 as my '07 did, when I did a x3 drain, drive, drain it made a BIG difference in shifting - MUCH smoother.

    Since then I have a 1x drain/refill every three years with all other fluids. My dealer gives a very good discount for doing several at the same time. That is with oil/filter at 15% or one year which I schedule with the other services.

  11. #9
    crv|oc Rank: Freshman
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    To answer your original question...No, you are not a boob.

    Never be ashamed in doing things yourself and asking questions...live and learn.

    I find that the transmission fluid level is very sensitive to even the slightly incline...you have to make sure that you are on level ground as much as possible...I find that a house garage is the best.

  12. #10
    crv|oc Rank: Member
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    thanks folks. figured out the issue. went back to my receipts. I had a drain and fill done a few years back at the dealer. so I guess they botched it and underfilled it a bit. all straight now.

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