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How to perform an 8
quart ATF Flush on a 2006 Mazda3 2.3L Sedan
READ FIRST: A number of people are asking me where they can buy a transmission
fluid pump. Well the answer is YOU ALREADY HAVE ONE... It's installed in your
car and all you have to do is start your engine (in park) and the pump will
automatically cycle automatic transmission fluid through the OEM transmission
cooler. To take advantage of this, all you have to do is disconnect the
"output" fluid hose that connects to the existing OEM cooler, and then you
attach a clear vinyl tube to the "output" nipple. THen start your car and your
car will AUTOMATICALLY spew old atx fluid out of the clear vinyl tube and into a
container. Once the old fluid has come out, you replenish the fluid via the
dipstick for the ATX fluid. Remember not to let the transmission pump ALL of
your ATX fluid out of your car and to stop once it's pumped about 3 quarts of
fluid out. Then replace that 3 quarts and do it again to avoid getting air
trapped in the system.
1. Drain old fluid from pan (~3-3.5 quarts)
IF YOU DON'T DROP THE PAN, SKIP TO STEP 4
2. (optional) drop pan and clean circle magnet and replace filter if necessary
3. (optional) replace pan with new high temp silicone gasket maker
4. Refill with new fluid through dipstick hole
5. Attach clear tube to outlet of your atx fluid cooling block into collection
6. Pump out 3 quarts of old fluid by putting car in drive with e-brake and
regular brake on
7. Refill with new fluid through dipstick hole
8. Repeat Steps 6-7 until fluid coming out of clear tube is red and bright. (or
the same color of your new mercon V)
9. Top off the fluid level, test drive, check for leaks, re-check fluid level
after fluid is warmed up and top off if necessary.
Basic Metric Socket set and pliers to remove clips that hold on transmission
line. (Look up the oil change "how to" in order to remove the black skid plate,
and battery covers)
Metric Hex to remove transmission pan drain bolt. (It's either 6mm or
6-8 feet of 3/8" I.D. clear tubing available at Home Depot for ~$6. (Get a clamp
too) (My writeup suggest 5/16" I.D., but this is very tight and will need a
little stretching and some oil as lube to get it to fit)
Container or bucket to catch old transmission fluid and tape to secure the tube
so it doesn't move when draining.
Funnel that fits in the ATF dipstick to put fluid in. Get one that u can shove
in there so you don't have to hold the funnel while you pour. (When pouring, do
this slowly or else it will burble and splash ATF fluid all over the engine
8-9 quarts of ATF Mercon V. Keep putting in fluid until the fluid comes out
bright red. You'll want to make sure you save some fluid for the end for
topping it off to the "max" fill level.
Transmission filter (if you want to replace this while you drop the pan) To get
the filter I suggest you visit your local dealership and order the filter that
your car requires. You'll have to give them your VIN, and I believe this to be
an easy way to get the right part. Keep in mind that changing your ATF filter
is not mandatory and mine looked very clean. I will probably change my filter
at 80k miles or more. I do not think that this filter is a regular "Mazda"
maintenance item to be replaced on a certain interval.
1. I recommend jacking up car and put front on jack stands, then remove black
plastic skid plate. It probably can be done if you drive on ramps, or perhaps
flat on the garage if you have not lowered your car. First, drain old
transmission fluid by removing the hex bolt in the middle of the black
transmission fluid pan and observe color and odor of fluid. If there is a burnt
smell and flakes then begin to worry. If it's dark red or brownish and no
strange odor then this is normal. If it's pink, then there may be coolant/water
mixed with your transmission fluid. Mine is normal, though darker than I'd like
it to be after having done a double 3qt flush about 8k miles ago. My car has
23k miles on it right now.
2. (OPTIONAL) Drop the transmission pan by first removing bolts, and then
gently prying off pan with wide flat head screw driver or plastic scraper and
remove and clean circle magnet. Try not to scratch the metal. Scrape off
silicone best you can and replace with high temp silicon gasket maker when you
re-install pan (I used permatex high temp silicone RTV sealant/gasket maker).
Replace the filter if you bought one, I didn't have one so I didn't and just
removed the filter and emptied it. I found NO gunk whatsoever and minimal
residue on the magnet. Spread a thin coat of the liquid gasket on the rim of
the pan. Once the pan is back and the drain bolt is tightened, re-fill with
transmission fluid till it's full on the dip stick. (This is considered the
drain and refill since it only does about 3-3.5 quarts at a time)
Keep in mind that there is a higher chance of a leak, the more old silicone you
leave on the transmission pan rim. Also, DO NOT leave any harsh solvents or
cleaners in the pan or on the filter. This will mix with your ATF fluid and may
3. Now locate the OEM transmission oil cooler which is the cylinder shaped
cooler next to your transmission. It's maybe the size of a can of tuna and has
one inlet and one outlet for oil. Locate the "line out" of the cooler and
attach the clear tube to this and run it to a container that can hold a couple
gallons of fluid.
4. Remember to have NEW transmission fluid in your car... Set your parking
brake firm, depress the brake (Hold the brake) and then safely start your engine
and put the car into drive. This will allow fluid to flow through your torque
converter (at least on most cars). The old fluid will be gushing out of the
clear tube and into the catch pan. If it's not, then maybe you chose the wrong
outlet on the OEM transmission cooler. DO this until 3 quarts have emptied into
the container and stop your engine. I eyeballed it, but you can mark the
container with tape at the 3 quart line. Refill the drain pan via the dip stick
tube again. Turn your engine on and wait until it fills a couple more quarts
and your fluid turns RED again easily visible through the clear tube. Your last
3 quarts are reserved to fill up the drain pan.
5. Re-install transmission line, (recommended to replace the clamp, or at least
put the old clamp in its original position when reinstalling the oil line) Put
everything back together and you're good to go.
So by starting your engine, your OEM ATX fluid pump will automatically be
pumping fluid through your OEM ATX cooler. So by letting this pump fluid OUT of
your car, it will be taking fluid from the transmission pan/reservoir. So you
have to make sure your ATX pan has NEW fluid in it to make sure you're getting
almost all of the old fluid out.
Yes this method can be done without taking off the ATX pan, and it will save
some time. It just is more of a complete job if u drop the pan and clean it.
EDIT: Take the following link to my SECOND ATX flush after about 15k miles.
More pics, and more info:
For another walkthrough more detailed on dropping the transmission pan and
changing the ATX filter see this link:
(Though I suggest you use a more material friendly tool and more careful prying
methods for removing the pan and gasket material from the atx pan)
How to install an axillary
transmission oil cooler on a 2006 Mazda3 2.3L Sedan
This cooler adds a secondary cooling ability to the car with the purpose of
pro-longing transmission life, and reducing overall engine temperature. Engine
coolant serves the purpose of cooling the transmission fluid in the OEM setup
and I believe that a LPD (low pressure drop) cooler can safely and effectively
reduce temperatures without decreasing ATF pressure too much. It will also add
ATF capacity by approx. 1 quart.
The idea is to run the new cooler AFTER the OEM transmission cooler, then back
to the transmission. You have to remove the two front skid plates and maybe
your OEM intake. I have a CAI so there was plenty of room for me to work and
find the transmission oil inlet on the transmission from the top of the engine.
It will be somewhat difficult to find this from the bottom. I used about 4-5
feet of rubber tubing plus the cooler (i discarded the old oil line that goes
from the OEM cooler outlet, to the transmission fluid inlet). I tried to not
have tubes bend with a curve of more than 3.5" radius. I also protected the
tube with the plastic tech flex at the area where it curves around the radiator
and secured the flex in place with electric tape.
I'm just going to post my installation pictures. It's pretty straight forward
and the cooler is behind the air bag sensor at the bottom of the radiator. It
is attached with 2 regular zip ties, and one long "rod" type zip tie that came
with the transmission cooler kit.
The tru-cool transmission cooler kit I got was ~$40 shipped from Bulkparts.com
If you want an anodized aluminum fin type cooler, check out the coolers from
hotzoneperformance which are $40ea. I chose the least "flow" restrictive
cooler. If you want a complete kit with stainless steel lines and instructions
then check out the $160 kit at SCI.
For the record, I bought 5 feet of goodyear transmission cooler rubber pipe from
Autozone for $1 per foot. (even though my kit came with tube)
TEST IT: Run the engine top off your ATF fluid since this will increase your
fluid capacity. If you bought 8 quarts to flush your ATF, then you'll need an
extra quart if you do the cooler too, so that makes 9 quarts total to be on the
safe side. (I got 10 quarts of MerconV)
Run your engine, check for leaks, drive it around before you put the two skid
Warnings and disclaimer! - Hopefully you'll find the best possible routing of
the lines and maybe you went with stainless steel lines. I don't want something
rubbing on the line to wear through the tube and cause a fluid leak and
transmission failure. I take no responsibility for anything that is written on
this page so work on your car at your own risk.
Do not overfill your transmission fluid, or underfill.
Reinstall all tubes securely so there are no leaks, route all tubes so that they
do not damage anything or become damaged themselves.
Use a Mazda factory manual if you are unsure what does what and "where", etc.
If my transmission fails due to a high pressure drop as a result of my
transmission cooler or installation I will let everyone know. This IMO is one
risk. Another risk is warranty on your transmission, as well as there is an
increased likely hood of leaks due to more connections and tubing to watch out
I lubed the tube and inlet/outlet to facilitate sliding the oil tubes over the
metal nozzles... Boy is this the PAIN, as is removing them. You'll need
gloves, patience, and twisting motion. (don't damage any surround parts please,
and don't break anything)
I can't specifiy whether it lowered fluid temperatures or engine temperatures
because I have no way of accurately measuring transmission temps.
I put approximately 10,000 miles on this cooler and my fluid still looks red and
shifting quality remains consistent. I plan on changing my fluid with a 9qt
flush after 20k miles.
The cooler is robust and only minor paint chips in it since the cooler is right
behind the front lower grill. There also has never been a leak and my ATX fluid
level has been the exact same.
Right after the install, my transmission felt smooth and pretty much the same as
Perhaps "slightly" less jerky.
The only reason I changed the fluid and added the cooler was to hopefully
"prevent" anything bad from happening, prolong transmission, and for diagnostic
I'll probably edit and revise this as necessary.