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Old 08-14-2005, 12:04 AM   #1
David Harleyson
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: The Republic of Texas
Posts: 412

2005 VUE 3.5L
Default HOW TO: 3.5 Auto Trans Fluid Change

Here is the quick and dirty on how to change the transmission fluid yourself.

You will need:
A pan capable of catching and holding AT LEAST 5 QUARTS of fluid. The one I used is a 15 quart, round drain pan.
A 3/8 drive ratchet or breaker bar with a short extension.
A 10-12 inch piece of 3/8 fuel or oil line.
A small funnell with a 3/8 tip opening.
Several old rags.
At least 5 quarts of new trans fluid.

A word about transmission fluid.
Trans fluid is the life blood of your transmission. A quality trans fluid is more important to your trans than a quality oil is to your engine. As heat in the trans goes up, the life of the fluid (and your trans) goes down. Sadly most people ignore the transmission until it breaks and then swear XX car company makes cheap transmissions. The Honda transmission REQUIRES a Z1specification fluid. IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT BRAND YOU BUY AS LONG AS IT CARRIES THE Z1 RATING. ASSUME NOTHING, TURN THE BOTTLE OVER AND READ. As of this writing Mobil 1 Synthetic ATF DOES NOT meet the Z1 spec. I am personally a cheerleader for synthetics in general, so I used Amsoil ATF. Use anything you like, as long as it has the Z1 rating.

The procedure:
Park the Vue on level ground, put it in park, and set the parking brake. Make sure the engine is at FULL operating temp. This will make the refill process more accurate and quicker. Turn the wheels all the way to the left, and turn off the engine.
Jack up the front end of the Vue 5-6 inches. It is not necessary to put it on ramps or jackstands for this job. Keeping the Vue as level as possible will help you get as much fluid as possible out of the trans.
Looking under the Vue from the front, the transmission is the large cast aluminum part closest to the drivers side tire. Running from front to back along the trans is a row of cad plated (gold tone) hex bolts. They all look alike, except for is slightly bigger and has a 3/8 square drive head instead of a hex. This is the drain plug. Put the drain pan as close as practical to the drain plug while still allowing yourself enough room to use the ratchet and extension to loosen the plug. Once the plug is loose, it will come out with just your fingers. Work SLOWLY, and keep the drain pan close to your work. The fluid comes out FAST. MUCH faster than draining engine oil. Wipe up what you spilled and let the trans drain for several minutes. The drain plug has a magnet on the end. Wipe it off with a rag. These metal particles should be VERY tiny, almost like metal powder, and be a silver gray color. The draining fluid should be dark red, with only the slightest tinge of brown. It should NOT smell burned.
While the trans is draining remove the dipstick. It is low on the front drivers side of the engine bay, almost directly under the radiator hose. You will see a loop of wire with a piece of rubber on it. Pull it straight up and out of the fill tube. Notice I said fill tube. Here's a trick. The tube is slightly larger than the 3/8 fuel line. Dab a little trans fluid on the end of the 12 inch piece of hose and carefully but firmly push it over the end of the tube. Push the funnell in the other end and you have the perfect "fill tube extension".
Replace the drain plug and tighten snugly. Pour in the trans fluid of your choice and check the level after EACH quart of fluid. There is no way to know exactly how much fluid you drained with this method. THIS PROCEDURE DRAINED 4.8 QUARTS OF FLUID FROM MY TRANSMISSION. YOUR DRAINAGE MAY VARY. FOLLOW THE CHECK PROCEDURE IN THE OWNERS MANUAL!! I can not be resopnsible for your decision not to follow the check procedure in the owners manual EXACTLY.

Last Thoughts:
This is a quick change procedure only. A full fluid change out is only possible with a pressure flush machine from the dealer or oil change place. I believe a pressure flush SHOULD be done every 50,000 miles or so. This is a great intermediate step.
There ARE filters in the Honda trans, they are small and built into the inside of the trans case. I do not believe that they are servicable by the do-it-yourselfer.
NEVER let anyone tell you that this is a "sealed system".
Good luck with yours!
David Harleyson


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