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Honda Pilot ATF Fluid Replacement Guide
How to change the automatic transmission fluid in a 1st generation 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 & 2008 Honda Pilot.

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2006 Pilot AWD VTEC 3.5L V6
Right (Driver) Side of Engine
ATF Filler Hole Bolt
This automotive maintenance tutorial was specifically written to assist owners of the first generation (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008) Honda Pilot AWD SUV equipped with the VTEC 3.5 liter V6 engine in draining the old automatic transmission fluid and refilling with new ATF fluid.

Owners of other Honda or Acura vehicles such as the Accord, Civic, Crosstour, CR-V, CR-Z, Fit, Insight, Odyssey, Pilot, Ridgeline, ILX, TSX, TLX, TL, RLX, RDX, NSX and MDX may also find these DIY instructions to be helpful.

The recommended replacement automatic transmission fluid is genuine Honda ATF DW-1.

If necessary, you can also use any other Dexron III ATF.

The tools needed to complete this procedure include a 17mm socket, an extension bar, a 3/8" drive ratchet, a used oil catch basin, a long ATF funnel and at least 4 U.S. quarts of ATF.

17mm Socket On Filler Bolt
Loosen Counterclockwise
Spin Out By Hand
The first two steps are to open the hood and then move to the right (driver) side of the engine bay.

The ATF filler bolt should be removed to help prevent a vacuum from forming and allow the old fluid to drain out more quickly.

Look behind the air intake hose and down to locate the ATF filler bolt.

It is situated in between the brake fluid reservoir and the plastic engine cover. The letters "ATF" are stamped on the bolt head.

Attach the 17mm socket to a long extension bar and a 3/8" or a 1/2" drive socket.

Loosen the ATF filler bolt by turning it counterclockwise. The bolt was very tight on this 2006 Pilot and we had to use a long breaker bar (actually we had to use a bicycle seat post). I recommend wearing gloves to prevent from busting your knuckles.

If you have difficulty removing the filler bolt even with a breaker bar, try warming up the engine for 10-15 minutes or spray a very small amount of penetrating oil on to the bolt.

Some Pilot owners with especially stubborn filler bolts that will not budge, opt to simply refill the transmission fluid by using a plastic hose inserted in to the dipstick tube or by sliding some slightly larger vinyl tubing snugly over the dipstick tube.

If you choose to refill the ATF by using the dipstick tube, it will take a bit longer and require some patience.

Once the filler bolt is loose, spin it out the rest of the way by hand to prevent from having it fall down in to the engine bay.

(If you have an early 2003 or 2004 model year Pilot that underwent the automatic transmission recall, the filler bolt may have been replaced with an "A/T Oil Jet Kit". You can remove the jet kit by loosening the single 12mm bolt and refill the ATF. Or you can just refill through the dipstick tube with a vinyl hose or a narrow diameter funnel.)

ATF Filler Bolt Removed
Inspect Washer
ATF Filler Hole
Inspect the washer on the ATF filler bolt and replace it if necessary. We chose to re-use the old washer since it appeared to be in excellent condition.

The correct replacement 24mm washer part number is Honda 90441-PK4-000.

ATF Drain Bolt
Use 3/8" Drive Ratchet
Loosen Counterclockwise
Slide under the driver side of the engine bay and locate the drain bolt on the ATF oil pan.

Insert the 3/8" drive ratchet directly in to the square shaped opening in the drain bolt.

Loosen the ATF drain bolt by turning it counterclockwise.


Position Used Oil Catch Basin
Draining Out Old ATF
Check Drain Plug Magnet
Move the used oil catch container to just below the drain bolt.

Spin out the drain bolt the rest of the way by hand.

Be careful when you remove the drain bolt. The transmission fluid might still be hot enough to burn your fingers.

Allow the ATF to drain out for at least a few minutes or until the flow slows down to just an occasional drip.

If you want to be certain of how many quarts of old fluid you removed from the transmission, make a gallon jugged measured out with quart markings on the side. We drained out about 3.5 U.S. quarts.

Clean off any metal shavings or debris from the magnet on the drain bolt.

Inspect the washer on the drain bolt and replace it if necessary.

The 18mm drain bolt washer part number is Honda 90471-PX4-000.

Square - 3/8" Drive Bolt
Long ATF Funnel
Valvoline Max Life ATF
We chose to buy a 1 gallon (4 U.S. quarts) jug of Valvoline Max Life ATF for this drain and refill.

Honda recommends using genuine OEM Honda ATF DW-1. The original fluid was ATF-Z1 which has been discontinued.

A "power flush" of the ATF is not recommended and can lead to problems. If you would like to perform a "flush", I recommend performing a drain and refill, driving for 5 miles and then repeat the procedure a few more times. Performing a drain and refill of the ATF several times should replace at least eighty to ninety percent of the original fluid.

Replace Drain Bolt
Drain Bolt Secured
Insert ATF Funnel
Re-insert the ATF drain bolt and spin it in a few turns by hand in the clockwise direction to prevent it from becoming cross threaded.

Use the 3/8" drive ratchet to tighten the drain bolt in the clockwise direction to just past hand tight.

If you have a torque wrench, the service manual specification for tightening the drain bolt is 36 lb-ft of torque.

Double check that the drain bolt is tight before moving on to the next steps.

Insert the long necked automotive funnel in to the ATF filler hole.

Funnel In Filler Hole
Partially Remove Dipstick
Pour In New ATF
Lift the dipstick up about an inch or two to allow air to escape when you pour in the new fluid.

Slowly pour the new ATF in to the funnel.

Since we measured that 3.5 U.S. quarts were removed, we poured in 3.5 quarts of new ATF.

(This Pilot model has AWD: all wheel drive. The fluid required might be different for the FWD, front wheel drive, vehicles.)

If you don't want to measure the amount of old fluid, I recommend only pouring in 3 quarts, start the engine, run the transmission through the gears, turn off the engine and check the transmission fluid level.

Here's the service manual procedure for checking the transmission fluid: 1. Park the vehicle on level ground. 2. Warm up the engine to normal operating temperature (the radiator fan comes on). 3. Turn off the engine. (Do not allow the engine to warm up longer than the time it takes for the radiator fan to turn on twice. 4. Check the fluid level within 60 to 90 seconds.

Push Down Dipstick
Check Dipstick Level
1/2 U.S. Quart Left Over
Push the yellow plastic handled ATF dipstick down in to place.

Pull it out, wipe it clean, re-insert it and pull it out again to check the fluid level.

If necessary, slowly pour in more fluid and re-check the dipstick until the level reaches just at or below the upper hole on the tip of the dipstick that indicates the "Maximum" or "Full" line.

You should have about 1/2 quart of ATF left over that can be used for the next drain and refill in about 45K miles or 30K miles if you have "severe" driving conditions such as towing or stop and go city driving. If you drive mostly on the highway, you could stretch that maintenance interval to 60,000 miles.

Push the dipstick back in to place.

Be sure to record the ATF change in your SUV's service records.

For more, check out all of my 2003-2008 Honda Pilot DIY Repair & Maintenance Guides.

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