Recently, I completely overhauled my car’s transmission system and drained the torque converter. Somehow, I forgot to fill the torque converter and had the transmission returned and fixed into the vehicle.
At this point, I wanted to know if I could fill my torque converter without necessarily removing the entire transmission system.
Suppose you are new to our page and need clarification on a torque converter. In that case, it is a dynamic-hydraulic coupling that converts rotational power into mechanical power that drives your wheel.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through each step of the industry standard of how to fill a torque converter. Remember, when it comes to car maintenance, there’s no such thing as a small task – every detail counts. So, gear up, and let’s get your hands dirty.
Read more: Symptoms of a Bad Torque Converter.
How do you check torque converter fluid?
To check the fluid level of the toque converter, you have to check the transmission system. The reason is that it shares the same fluid and is attached.
To better explain their relationship, the torque converter comprises three components– the pump, turbine, and stator.
The engine drives the pump, which moves transmission fluid, creating a vortex. Subsequently, the vortex spins the turbine connected to the transmission, generating mechanical energy for the wheel.
Here is an essential guide to checking the transmission fluid of the transmission system:
- Ensure the vehicle is parked flat and the engine is warm and running.
- Locate the transmission dipstick under your vehicle’s hood toward the back of the engine bay.
- Once located, remove the dipstick and clean it. You want to ensure there are no stains on the surface.
- Reinsert the dipstick fully into its position and pull out again
- Check the fluid level and condition of the fluid indicated on the stick.
- You must change the fluid if the fluid is black or very brownish, with a burnt smell. If it is also low, you should replace the fluid.
Remember, vehicles differ, and their method may differ slightly, but this step is general and gives an idea about what to do.
How to drain and refill a Torque converter
There are various methods to fill your Torque converter, which will be discussed in this article.
Before we dive into the procedures, it’s essential to understand that different vehicles may require different methods. Always consult your owner’s manual or a trusted mechanic to understand which method is best suited for your car.
Method one: Draining Through the Torque Converter Plug
This was the method I used for my vehicle in the scenario discussed in the introduction. I was too lazy to lose the entire transmission system to get to the torque converter.
Note: this method will only work if your torque converter has a drain plug and the plug is accessible.
Locate your torque converter plug: You will need to go under the vehicle, so make sure your car is secured safely during the lift. (Never rely too much on a jack stand).
Firstly, put on the engine and leave it running for about 10 seconds. Next, shift the gear to neutral and switch off the ignition. (You shouldn’t be able to remove the key because of the neutral gear.)
You may find it had to locate the plug even after exposing the torque convert underneath the car. In this case, find the crankshaft using a socket or a ratchet and adjust it till the drain plug becomes visible.
Place a drain pan beneath the drain plug: You don’t want to get the fluid everywhere, so ensure you have a drain plug or pan to collect the fluid.
Loosen the plug and allow fluid to flow: The drain may be slow because there isn’t air in the torque converter to allow proper flow.
Allow all fluids to flow out: you want to wait till the tickle stops.
Replace the Plug: Once drained, replace and tighten the plug.
Refill the Transmission Fluid: Now that the old fluid has been drained, you can refill it with new transmission fluid.
Method 2: Draining and Refilling through the Transmission
- Locate the Transmission Pan: This is typically located at the bottom of the transmission.
- Drain the Fluid: Remove the pan by loosening the bolts, allowing the fluid to drain into a pan.
- Replace the Filter: Once the pan is removed, replace the transmission filter.
- Reattach the Pan: Secure the pan back onto the transmission.
- Refill with New Fluid: Using the transmission fluid dipstick tube, refill the system with new fluid.
Method 3: Power Flushing (Professional Mechanic Recommended)
A professional mechanic should ideally perform power flushing as it involves connecting a machine to the transmission to flush out the old fluid and replace it with new fluid.
Will the torque converter fill itself?
A torque converter will fill itself when the vehicle’s engine is started. The transmission pump circulates the fluid, filling the converter in the process.
However, it’s critical to add some fluid to the converter before installing it to avoid dry start and unnecessary wear. Despite this self-filling mechanism, it’s important to regularly check your transmission fluid level to ensure the system is adequately filled and functioning properly.
How to install a torque converter?
Installing a torque converter begins with lubricating its hub and pump seal with transmission fluid. Then, align the converter’s input shafts with the transmission pump’s slots and gently push the converter into place. You’ll feel it ‘drop’ into each slot, usually three in total. Rotate the converter while pushing to ensure it’s fully seated.
Incorrect installation will cause transmission fluid leaks, overheating, slippage, shuddering, or high RPMs with delayed vehicle speed (poor acceleration). There might also be unusual noises like grinding or whining.
Will a torque converter fill on its own?
A torque converter will fill itself as the engine runs and pumps fluid into it via the transmission. However, it’s crucial to initially add fluid before starting your vehicle after a service.
Do you need to pre-fill a torque converter before installing it?
To pre-fill torque converter with transmission fluid is generally a good practice before installing it. This helps to prevent a dry start, which can cause premature wear or damage. However, avoid overfilling, which can lead to other issues once installed.
How much fluid is in a torque converter?
The amount of fluid a torque converter can hold varies greatly depending on its size and the specific model of the vehicle. However, on average, a torque converter typically holds between one and three quarts of transmission fluid. Always refer to your vehicle’s manual for exact specifications.
Does a torque converter get fluid from the transmission?
Yes, a torque converter does receive fluid from the transmission. The transmission pump, driven by the engine, circulates transmission fluid through the system, including the torque converter. This fluid transfer allows the converter to transmit power, aids in cooling and helps lubricate transmission components.
What is the gap between the torque converter and Flexplate?
The gap between the torque converter and flexplate should be minimal, usually around 1/8 to 3/16 of an inch or roughly the thickness of a small washer. This gap ensures that the torque converter is fully seated into the transmission and allows for proper operation without causing any damage.
Understanding how to fill a torque converter correctly is vital to maintaining your vehicle’s transmission health. Whether installing a new converter or servicing an existing one, it’s crucial to ensure it’s correctly filled with the appropriate transmission fluid.