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2016 forte 4 dr
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91 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2016 Forte
73,xxx miles

I would like to change the ATF. I understand that it will drain only about 3 qts at a time.

OK. Drain, measure, put back the same amt, run a while, drain, etc. Eventually most of the old ATF will be replaced.

Can I buy ATF from a parts store or Walmart? Dealer ATF is $16 a QUART!
What kind would I look for?
The owner's manual says, "MICHANG ATF SP-IV, SK ATF SP-IV, NOCA ATF SP-IV, Kia genuine ATF SP-IV or other brands meeting the above specification approved by Kia Motors Corp." which is mumbo-jumbo to me 馃檨

I doubt that Kia makes their own ATF.
 

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2021 Forte GT w/GT2, Currant Red, SXTH Element Intercooler Kit, Evilla Exhaust, Takeda S2 Intake
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3,852 Posts
I've seen it as low as $14 per quart - or you can make these guys rich on ebay: 馃槺馃槺馃槺

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2021 Forte GT w/GT2, Currant Red, SXTH Element Intercooler Kit, Evilla Exhaust, Takeda S2 Intake
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3,852 Posts
An alternative is this brand...but it doesn't seem too much cheaper!

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2017 Kia Forte LX
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378 Posts
Unless you're a master mechanic and specialize in transmissions, the best fluid to put back in is the Kia fluid. Even at $14-$16 per quart, it's still a hell of a lot cheaper than paying for a new transmission because of a non compatible fluid.
 

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'21 Forte FE 6-Speed
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244 Posts
Unless you're a master mechanic and specialize in transmissions, the best fluid to put back in is the Kia fluid. Even at $14-$16 per quart, it's still a hell of a lot cheaper than paying for a new transmission because of a non compatible fluid.
If you can find an equivalent it鈥檚 worth it. The fluid for my Volvo is upwards of $20 a quart. Toyota AT-IV is like $6 a quart. It鈥檚 the exact same stuff and worked great in my Volvo
 

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I want to chime in here as I just lost a transmission to aftermarket fluid.

Take my advice or leave it, but here it is:

Transmission fluid is not something you do very often. Most transmission experts recommend at least a drain and fill every 30k miles. Yes, 30k. The dealership/automaker will always tell you something much higher. Still, this is not very often. Nowhere near as often as a 5000 mile oil change.

Do not use anything other than genuine, Kia SP-IV in your transmission. Do NOT go with an "all in one" fluid from Autozone or anywhere else. Do NOT go with a Royal Purple "max" fluid.

Yes, the dealer screws you at $16 a quart or somewhere around there. I've seen as high as $24(!) a quart.

But one drain and fill, that's four quarts. $60. So what. That's what I have to say.

I recently just replaced my transmission after using aftermarket fluid. It isn't right for these sensitive transmissions. Do not try it.

But that's just my advice, so if you don't want to heed it, I do respect that. Then at least listen to this. If you MUST use aftermarket fluid, these are your best options:

Ravenol SP-IV - Made by the Germans to spec (allegedly) of the original Kia/Hyundai SP-IV fluid. Good reviews/reports on Amazon, can also buy on Amazon. But at the price of $60 after shipping, for 4 quarts/liters, I would simply go with Kia's fluid.

AISIN SP-IV - AISIN is the company that makes transmissions for Toyota. They make a lot of small transmissions just like Hyundai/Kia does. After speaking to a transmission specialist, he claimed that this fluid is exactly the same as Kia SP-IV. This is only one transmission shop's opinion. If you must save money, it's $7 a quart.

Honestly, it's not worth the money. You are doing a 70,000 mile change/drain and fill. When will you do it again, 100,000, 150,000 miles?

I don't mean to be abrasive at all, or anything like that. It's just a reality. You are risking so much by using aftermarket fluid. Back in the day (even 15 years ago) you could use any compatible fluid. Today that is not the case. The OEM fluid from the dealership is the only one you want to go with.

Replacing my transmission was a disaster. I did it myself, but it took four months in my home garage, a $1000 transmission from kia (had to rent a U Haul to take the old one back to them). I spent about $1000 in tools, and paid about $1200 to get a Diagnostics tablet from Autel (you have to reprogram a new transmission).

$3200, 4 months of time, and endless grief. If you have the dealership do this, they will ask you for $6000-$7000. A shop, maybe $4000+. But will they do it right?

Do not ever put anything into your Kia transmission that is not SP-IV from the dealership. We are talking a savings of like $50 here. It is not like engine oil. Engines are entirely different. They are way less sensitive than modern transmissions, which are 100% computer-controlled and timed to the millisecond. They are engineered and tested only to work with the OEM fluid, as they were tested on in the lab when being manufactured. Trans fluid is not like engine oil. It isn't just for lubrication. It lubricates, it creates pressure for proper hydraulics (which make shifts happen), and it is the coolant for the trans. It serves multiple purposes. It is literally a part of the transmission and it isn't something where you want to go aftermarket.

I change my transmission fluid often but I simply go and buy a case of 10 quarts from the dealership ($120-$140) for 10 bottles, every year or two. This is a drop in the hat compared to the price of a replacement trans, or the price of the car itself.

My 2锟.

Really, really think about it.

Also, Highly recommend you pay the $19 for 72 hours access on Kia Tech Info, READ the transmission fluid change and level check procedure, and WATCH the video on changing the fluid. You can print out the process and save it for next time. But the video is of utmost importance to watch.


Kia's are tricky when changing the fluid. You must have the car running while checking the level, and you must have the car on jackstands, NOT RAMPS. The vehicle has to be completely level, with all four jackstands at the same level on level ground, as if the car was on a hydraulic lift in a shop.

If you do a level check on ramps, or on uneven ground, you will not get an accurate level of fluid and the trans will be under/overfilled and this will kill it.

It's not the same way it is with Honda or other makes (which tell you to simply wait until fluid drips out of the level check hole). This is easy on my wife's Honda. With her car, car is off, fill until it drips out of the hole, close it up. Run it through the shifter, refill, again and recheck level, done.

With the kia (any Kia post 2014ish, Forte, Optima, etc) it's a step or two harder.

With car on level jackstands on level ground:
  1. Drain fluid out of drain hole, about three quarts will come out. Recommend you replace the crush washer.
  2. Overfill it a bit through the top eyebolt, by about half a liter (so put 3.5 liters in, it's not so important to be specific here). Must remove the airbox (easy) and the eyebolt pops out with a ratchet extension if you pull it back.
  3. Turn on the car. You must wait about 15-20 minutes until the car is warm. The engine temp gauge should be right in the middle. If you don't do this you will not get an accurate fluid level.
  4. While the car is still running and on stands, get in the driver seat. Foot on brake the whole time, go through each gear one by one (P, R, N, D, N, R, P). Stay in each one for about 3-5 seconds. Don't skip this step, Allows extra fluid to be pulled into the transmission.
  5. Now you can go check the level. Unplug the level check plug, excess fluid will pour out until it dribbles. In the service manual they call this a "thin stream". Highly ambiguous and hard to describe. This is why I HIGHLY recommend you watch the video from Kia Tech Info.
  6. Close up the level check hole while it is at that perfect "dribble/stream" point. This is the hard part. The video will answer all your questions about this. Kia also recommends you replace the rubber gasket on the level check hole, you can get it from dealership for like $10, your choice. I know for a fact you can get away with not replacing it a few times. But after a few fluid changes you probably should. Risking a leak is not a good idea.
Transmission is now drained and filled to the proper level.

There's about 5 different ways you can mess this job up. This is by design. Kia doesn't want you touching the transmission fluid, they want you driving on dirty fluid until the car dies at so many miles so that you can buy another from them. That's all automakers these days, it's more $$$ for them. But the fluid is changeable and will drastically extend the life of the transmission. If you can do it properly and do it right, it's an excellent thing to do to keep your car going longer.

It's a few succinct steps and some instructions/video you need to look at, but once you do it once, you know how to do it. Every step is important.

They make it hard on purpose, but you can get it done right if you are willing to put in the money and the time to know how to do it right. Don't cut corners with this one. Every step is important.

THE ONLY way you could possibly get around all these crazy steps is that you skip the level check procedure entirely, by measuring the amount that comes out, and measuring the amount you put in. This is the only way around that. It is possible. If you go on Amazon and buy two 4L measuring jugs, one for NEW fluid, one for OLD fluid (never switch them, mark them with sharpie or tape). You can measure every drop of the old fluid that comes out, and then put the two jugs side by side to compare, and fill up the second jug with new fluid to exactly the same level of the old fluid jug, and pour the new fluid in, not spilling a drop. This way, you can totally skip the level check procedure, you don't have to have the car running while doing this job, you don't have to worry about it being level because you are totally skipping the level check procedure. This can work. But you have to measure exactly, never switch the jugs, and get every last drop coming out and going in. There are people who do it this way. All you have to do is drain the old out the bottom, and get the same exact amount of new fluid in the top. Done. That's probably the easiest way to skip all the BS and get it done easily. But if you mess up measuring or spill, not a problem, but now you have to do the level check way with the jackstands and the car running and everything.

Sorry for the length, but it's necessary. This is a difficult but doable job. I learned that the hard way. Once you do it a time or two, it's less scary, and you realize the ins and outs of doing it properly. There is leeway, but not much. You pretty much have to do everything to a T. You can't skip any steps, you can't do anything against what the instructions recommend. If you do, you're better off not touching the fluid at all.

Put in the time (an hour or so to look over the instructions/video) and the money (a couple hundred bucks) and it is worth it.

You can also pay the dealership I think about $200-$400 to do it, but they will often fight you on it or refuse to do it. But this is an option, just try another dealership, tell them you drive in demanding conditions.
 

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2017 Kia Forte LX
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That is one hell of a good read and write up, man. Very informative and well thought out. One of the mods here should make a sticky out of it so we can all reference it when we need to. Thanks for posting that. Great advice.
 

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'21 Forte FE 6-Speed
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Nice write up. If you want to be safe and don鈥檛 mind spending the money, get the overpriced Kia stuff, but I t鈥檚 worth noting that if the Toyota fluid is actually identical, there鈥檚 no point spending the extra money. The Toyota and Volvo fluids are identical, so I saved a bunch of money when I changed the fluid in my Volvo by using that Toyota fluid. Also, I got my Volvo dealer scan system for $50 all in - someone on a Volvo forum distributes a version of the official Volvo dealer system, so if someone does the same thing for Kia it could save you a ton of money for the reprogramming.
tl;dr nice writeup, I鈥檓 cheap lol
 

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Nice write up. If you want to be safe and don鈥檛 mind spending the money, get the overpriced Kia stuff, but I t鈥檚 worth noting that if the Toyota fluid is actually identical, there鈥檚 no point spending the extra money. The Toyota and Volvo fluids are identical, so I saved a bunch of money when I changed the fluid in my Volvo by using that Toyota fluid. Also, I got my Volvo dealer scan system for $50 all in - someone on a Volvo forum distributes a version of the official Volvo dealer system, so if someone does the same thing for Kia it could save you a ton of money for the reprogramming.
tl;dr nice writeup, I鈥檓 cheap lol
Great info mobile, wondering if transmission shops do the Kia procedure as you posted? Get one step wrong and it鈥檚 over for the transmission鈥robably get some type of warranty from the shop,but the down time of the vehicle will cost some headaches; getting rides to work,unable to cruise the local strips at night鈥ike a total bummer dude! 馃槼
 

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2016 forte 4 dr
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91 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks to all. I think draining into a calibrated container, then replacing with same amt of Kia fluid, is the way to go. Maybe a couple of times 馃檪
 

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2021 Forte GT w/GT2, Currant Red, SXTH Element Intercooler Kit, Evilla Exhaust, Takeda S2 Intake
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3,852 Posts
Thanks to all. I think draining into a calibrated container, then replacing with same amt of Kia fluid, is the way to go. Maybe a couple of times 馃檪
I think the consensus is 3 times.
 
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