ATF Change on the 2003-2007 Accord

The procedure is detailed with pictures as usual. It’s been 2 years since I did my last ATF change; used Honda ATF Z-1 then, but since its discontinuation, I am upgrading to the Honda ATF DW-1. Please note that if you still use ATF Z-1 for your Honda automatic transmission, you are most likely buying a counterfeit product. After the 1st ATF change on this model, ATF should be replaced every 30,000miles or 2years (whichever comes first).

Before you commence this procedure you will need to warm up the transmission. I recommend driving about 10 miles. Hot ATF will better remove any deposits or sludge. Also remember that on this model, ATF level is checked on a hot non-running vehicle.

A word of warning, especially for those of us in Nigeria; Honda automatic transmissions are quite selective of ATF’s so don’t go pouring ABRO, Seahorse etc. down there. If you do, you may be booking a transmission job!

Materials: 3/8 square wrench (a 3/8th ratchet or breaker bar will do), drain pan, Honda ATF DW-1 (for 4cyl models: 3quarts, got 4 quarts just to be safe, but still ended up using 3 anyway. Capacity for V6 models is 3.1 quarts), support stands, funnel, and hand protection.

1. After driving the car to operating temperature, park on level ground and jack up the right front end and support on stands (never work under a vehicle supported by a jack only. Jacks can fail). Pop the hood, locate the ATF dip stick and remove it. The dipstick can be found to the left of the battery.

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ATF dipstick, partially pulled out,

2. Underneath the vehicle, locate the ATF drain bolt and remove using the 3/8th wrench. I needed to attach an extension bar to the wrench in order get enough leverage to break the seal on the bolt.

ATF drain bolt

Location of ATF drain bolt

ATF drain bolt removal

Breaking the seal on the ATF drain bolt.

3. Unscrew the bolt and allow the fluid to drain into the drain pan. Bear in mind that the fluid is hot and would come out with some force. So set the pan some inches from the drain hole and move closer as the flow slows to a trickle. My technique for removing the bolt without it falling into the drain pan is to unscrew and at the same time keep tension on the bolt (tension is applied as if you are pushing the bolt into its hole). This way when the bolt is fully unscrewed, it still plugs the hole and you remove with one fast withdrawal sweep.

ATF draining

ATF draining

4. Once the ATF is drained, wipe the ATF drain bolt with a clean rag, refit and torque to 49Nm.

Torque on drain bolt

Setting 49Nm on torque wrench

5. Initial Refill: Haynes manual recommends you start your refill by pouring in 1/3rd of what you drained through the dipstick hole (However, I feel this is not practicable for two reasons: a. your drain pan may not be calibrated. b. What if your tranny was overfilled ab initio?). My technique is to add a third of the recommended refill volume, in this case 1 US quart (or one can). This you will do with the engine off.

ATF refill

ATF refill in progress

6. Graded Refill: Start the vehicle and commence the graded refill by adding half a pint of ATF per time and cycling the gear shifter through its positions (P-R-N-D etc) after each ½ pint. Luckily, one side of the Honda ATF DW-1 is graded and 1 pint is indicated! Continue these repetitive steps till you are 1pint shy of 3 quarts i.e. you have added 2.5 quarts to the tranny. Then check the level of the ATF on the dipstick after each graded refill cycle. Bear in mind that it will take about ½ a pint to bring up the ATF from the lower to the upper mark on the dipstick in a hot engine. It’s better to take it easy. Overfilling transmissions can shorten their lifespan. Stop you refill when the ATF is near or at the upper mark (dot) on the dipstick

Calibrated ATF can

Calibration on ATF can

7. My final step is to take the car for a drive the next day and after about 10miles gauge and top off if necessary (You must be on level ground). My tranny levelled off at the exact 3 quarts the owner’s manual stated.

NB: If you have been using a different ATF for your Honda transmission other than the recommended, you will need to do a X3 drain and fill. Drive a few miles and repeat steps 3-6 for 3 times. It is also recommended if your drained ATF is really dark-black. The X3 drain flushes the torque converter of ATF. The torque converter will usually not be drained in an simple ATF change, but if you change your ATF regularly, this shouldn’t be a problem.

7 Comments

  • Why is Honda Transmission fluid 10 times the price at Honda service center compare to the regular market

    • Hello,
      This is usually a trend observed across service centres because of larger overheads. I would however ask that you ensure you get the original stuff. There are so many knockoffs in the regular market in Nigeria. Will be good to procure from a trusted seller.

  • Sandra

    I want to replace the filter that is inside the tran as well. does that consist of just dropping the pan, and I am looking at it???? pull off? replace? And will I need a new gasket? My vevicle only has 68,000 plus miles but someone put wrong fluid in and I want to replace everything, as far as entire tran fluid and filters.

    • Hello Sandra,

      The response depends on the vehicle make and model. Without reference to those, if it’s a Honda a X3 drain as described in the quote above should suffice if a wrong fluid was used. As per replacing the transmission filter, it also depends on the make. The vehicle I did this procedure in has an external filter so no need to drop the pan. I also did a procedure of how to replace the transmission filter on 2003 accord 4cyl (if this happens to be your vehicle). See link below;

      https://www.diyautoworksng.com/replacing-the-transmission-filter-on-2003-2007-accord/

  • Mcgeehee

    Recommend draining the ATF (3 qts) during every oil change. That way, the car gets its 3X drain over a year and a half, or so. Same thing with p/s fluid. Use a turkey bastor to siphon all the power steering fluid out of the reservoir and replace with new. That way, I never have to bother with removing hoses for a p/s flush, and the p/s fluid gets the equivalent of a 3X drain stretched out over 18 months as well.

  • Paul Scotting

    Great guide very useful thank you, can you explain what an X3 drain is please?

    • Thanks Paul for reading.

      A x3 drain is draining and filling the transmission 3 times with driving some miles in between the drains. It’s usually used to refresh the residual fluid that is left in the torque converter following a simple drain and fill.

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