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This past weekend I "flushed" the auto trans on my 2001 CRV SE. I just bought the car and had noticed the strained shifting prior to purchase; I knew a trans fluid change was in immediate order. All the gears were shifting pretty consistently between 3-4k RPM.

I picked up 10 US qts of Honda OEM ATF from the local dealer. Got back, car was in normal operating temp (make sure it's warmed up before you change the trans fluid!). Pulled into the garage and got to work. Mileage was 221,711 at time of service. I assumed some risk in changing the fluid—some say for a car this old that hasn't had the trans fluid serviced in a while ... who knows what little pieces of metal have broken off in there. But I got this car for super duper cheap and decided its season of neglect was over :)

  • Trans drain plug is under the front passenger's side of the engine, super easy to access. Hit it with PB Blaster cracked it loose with a 3/8" drive wrench. Boy, did that fluid come out dark...about 2.7 qts worth of it.
  • Magnetized end of drain plug was covered in sludge, the most I've ever seen. Did not surprise me though. Gave that thing a good cleaning.
  • After fully drained, I threw on a new drain plug washer (18mm) and re-installed the drain plug, tightening to 36 ft-lbf with a 3/8" drive torque wrench per Honda spec.
  • First gripe: the location of the trans fluid dipstick on this car is brutal. Had to disconnect part of the intake (prior to pulling the dipstick; don't want dirt falling into the trans!) in order to fit a long funnel into the fill hole. All worked fine in the end.
  • Filled trans with 3.1 US qts Honda ATF per the FSM. Checked dipstick level: perfect. REMEMBER: do not use anything but Honda ATF. They highly discourage any non-OEM fluids in their trans. Honda trans, I'm coming to learn, are pretty particular.
  • At this point I did NOT follow the letter of the law in terms of running/cycling the trans. I went out for a 15-minute drive, making sure to shift through ALL the gears. I did switch into N and back into D a couple times while I was driving.
  • Pulled back into the garage and repeated the drain-and-fill 2 more times (bought 10qts ATF, 3.1 for each fill so I have 0.7 qt left over).
  • Second time through, obviously the fluid came out much cleaner, red but still slightly cloudy. Third and last time, fluid looked the same as it came out of the bottle, nice and clear and bright red—good sign!

I'd like to report that this trans fluid self-service went without a hitch. While my suspicions were confirmed in that the trans fluid had been neglected, getting the gunk out of there did nothing but improve performance. I drove the car to work today and it shifted—easily and calmly—at 2500rpm all the way up and down.

Given how simple this service is to execute, I will undoubtedly be changing the fluid with every oil change from here on out.
 

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Everything in Moderation
2006 CR-V EX, 5MT
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12,186 Posts
starclassic said:
getting the gunk out of there did nothing but improve performance. I drove the car to work today and it shifted—easily and calmly—at 2500rpm all the way up and down.

Now that you have more than 95% new ATF in your car, you don't need to do a D&F more often than every 30,000 miles.

THANKS for the follow-up!
 
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