The final item on the Land Rover’s extended maintenance was to change the transmission fluid and filter. Despite having done that once before (the change interval is every 2 years/ 20k miles) I’d forgotten how miserable it is to do.
Here is how you do the transmission service on a Land Rover in 22 easy steps:
- Drain the pan. No matter how long you leave the pan to drain, there will always be more fluid to drip, so you’re not really sure why you bothered.
- The pan is held in by 6 bolts with little clip things to pinch the pan. These will fall on your face. If you’re lucky you won’t lose any but I wouldn’t hold your breath.
- After dropping the pan you have to undo three torx bolts to remove the filter. Don’t worry, transmission fluid will be dripping into your face, hair, and floor this whole time.
- After getting the filter out, don’t forget that it too is somehow full of fluid that will happily spill on the floor, down your sleeve, or, preferably, both.
- Oh and the place where the filter attaches also has a torrent of fluid it would like to share with you.
- Putting in the new filter isn’t so bad except for the aforementioned constant dripping from every exposed part.
- Fitting up the pan is pretty not bad as well as long as you have four hands and perfect future vision. Threading six bolts into gritty holes while making sure the clip is aligned, the gasket didn’t shift, and you’re not cross-threading the bolt is a thankless job.
- If you’re very, very lucky the bolt+clip combo will just fall somewhere harmless like you face or eyes, and not ricochet into far corners of the garage when they inevitably fall out after you think you got it threaded but you actually didn’t.
- After somehow getting those in and realizing that your torque wrench doesn’t go down to 6 ft/lbs. You keep meaning to buy an in/lbs wrench but then you don’t. You guess at the torque and move on to filling, resolving to forget to buy an in/lbs wrench before the next time you do something like this.
- Filling the transmission involves squeezing both ends of a fluid pump that swears it would fit a gallon jug, but only if that gallon jug was made in the 70s before we started doing wide neck pourers, while trying not to knock over said gallon of transmission fluid and making sure the fill hose stays in the fill hole.
- Success here means, best case, you’re going to leak transmission fluid on SOMETHING as an indication you are done. More likely you’re going to get it in your eye. Is it poisonous? Best not to think about it. It hurts a lot less than you expect, which is worrying. Also at least 20% of it will end up on the garage floor. Then the REAL fun begins!
- Now you have to start the car, run it through the gears, and then wait for the transmission to get to 104F. Meanwhile the catalytic converters that flank the transmission are gradually warming up the the approximate heat of the surface of the sun.
- When you get tired of waiting, again start your awkward pumping ritual until you can’t feel your arm.
- Switch arms and severely burn some part of your body on one of the cats.
- Continue pumping while swearing loudly.
- Run out of transmission fluid even though you swear you checked the capacity before you bought half as much as you need.
- Consider pumping in the used fluid because it wasn’t that bad after all and this whole thing was pointless, but then go ahead and go to the parts store and pay their insane prices on fluid.
- Return to the car a broken human, and continue pumping.
- Like many things that require tedious pumping, you’ll know when you’re done with fluid starts hitting your face. Seriously. The way to tell if you’ve got enough fluid in there is: “With engine idling, continue filling gearbox until a 2 mm bead of oil runs from oil filler/level plug hole.”
- Frantically search for the filler plug which was JUST IN YOUR POCKED OH MY GOD DID IT FALL OUT WHERE IS IT WHY AM I SO ALONE IN THIS WORLD.
- Find said plug, clean all the dirt and grit off of it from being stuck under the creeper for who knows how long, and try and thread it as all the fluid you’d been working so hard at putting into the transmission is leaking out.
- Swear loudly, close garage, and go get a beer. You’ll clean it up tomorrow. Try not to touch anything before you throw away everything you were wearing.
I need a lift.
And a beer.
And about 50lbs of kitty litter.
And another beer.