Imagine having to remove the oil pan to drain the oil from the engine in your car. This is the procedure you generally have to follow when changing the fluid inside the automatic transmissions of most cars made since the early 1970s.
There is no drain plug, to make it easy to drain the fluid.
Instead, it is difficult – and messy. Because there is no drain plug.
Like the oil pan, the transmission pan is held in place by about a dozen bolts that have to be removed before the pan can be lowered. But that’s not easy, either – especially if you’re laying on your back, underneath the car, trying to prevent it – and all the fluid it holds – from dumping out all over you . . . and all over the garage. There are about 4-5 quarts of oily, lubricious fluid in the pan – and by now some will have spilled and your hands will probably be soaked, along with your hair and clothes, too.
It is likely the pan will slip out of your hands as you attempt to lower it – and all of that fluid will be all over you.
This can be prevented (maybe, somewhat) by using a floor jack to – gently – support the pan while you remove the bolts and then – also gently – lower the jack while balancing the pan, which can then be tipped over into a large catch can, to catch all the fluid. Even so, it’s a hassle – and a mess.
Queuing up Church Lady (from ancient Saturday Night Live days) voice, could it be that the car companies don’t want you to change the fluid in your transmission?
Want you to go the dealer – to pay to have it changed?
Interestingly – conveniently – there are some new cars that come without engine oil drain plugs, too. The oil is not drained; it is sucked out – via a special probe that’s inserted into the oil fill tube. A tool the owner of the car probably doesn’t have.
Wonder why that is . . .
Ever try removing the hater core from a late model anything? Step one . . . remove the dashboard.
Another fun one – about which I’ve written in the past – is the little plastic stopper plug inserted into a hold drilled into the brake pedal of many late-model vehicles, including my Nissan Frontier pick-up truck. This rubber stopper causes a small pin inside a switch to be depressed when the brake pedal is released. This, in turn, completes an important circuit – the brake light circuit.
Inevitably, the rubber stopped ages – and shrinks. And falls out of its little hole. Resulting in the little pin not being depressed when the brake pedal is released. Causing the brake lights to stay on all the time. Including when the ignition is off. The fix is to either replace the plug or disconnect the battery whenever you have to leave the truck parked.
Guess which is easier to do . . .
Now, why would Nissan – and it’s not just Nissan – drill a hole in the clutch pedal and fill it with a rubber plug guaranteed to eventually fall out and which is exceedingly awkward to replace with a new plug? The procedure requires holding the brake pedal to the floor – so as to be able to see (and reach) the hold, in order to insert the new plug.
It takes gymnastics – and determination.
There are a few grateful exceptions to these practices. Subaru – name mentioned because praise is deserved – mounts the engine oil filter on top of the engine, where you can put your hands on it without having to lay on your back. It can be removed without using tools – other than your hands – and because it is mounted upside down, it does not make a mess when you remove it, as most of the oil within it has already drained back into the engine.
As opposed to all over the engine – as was the case, infamously, with the no-longer-made Cadillac “Northstar” V8 engine.
The oil filter was mounted up top, but very hard to reach and in such a way – at such an angle – as to all-but guarantee oil would spill all over the top of the engine, resulting in not just a mess but also smoke, as the heat from the running engine cooked off the mess.
Maybe I’ll get a drain plug kit – for next time!
. . .
If you like what you’ve found here please consider supporting EPautos.
PS: Get an EPautos magnet or sticker or coaster in return for a $20 or more one-time donation or a $10 or more monthly recurring donation. (Please be sure to tell us you want a magnet or sticker or coaster – and also, provide an address, so we know where to mail the thing!)