- 6 Min Read
- By: Adam Goral
How To Service The Automatic Transmission On A Volvo P2, P3, & SPA Chassis (XC90, S60, V70, & More)
For years, Volvo has been using Aisin transmissions due to their compact layouts and efficient operation. Utilizing extremely tight tolerances, Aisin has achieved a family of automatic transmissions that are extremely versatile to complement Volvo’s engine and powertrain requirements.
However, there’s a catch. The compact transverse nature of these automatics, as well as tightening environmental oversight relating to manufacturer lifetime service intervals, means some sacrifices had to be made. For our Volvos unfortunately, that was assigning the “lifetime fill” stamp of death and omitting the large transmission oil pan and filter that many mechanics are familiar with on other cars.
Volvo models and years applicable:
This DIY is being completed on a 2015 Volvo V60, although it applies to many different models with the 6-speed TF80SC or the 8-speed TG81SC. The fluid service kit you purchase will depend on your exact vehicle, however. You should use our vehicle selection tool to confirm that you're purchasing the correct kit.
What are the symptoms of needing to service a Volvo automatic transmission?
Fluid changes were only prescribed as reactionary for hard shift issues, and for transmissions that had specifically difficult lives such as frequent towing in harsh conditions. The result of this is piles of otherwise good cars sentenced to junkyards due to transmission problems. Pay attention to these two warning signs to prevent your car from ending up as another atop the pile.
- Difficulty shifting or delayed shifting, especially when cold
- Hard shifting
Mentioned above, Volvo calls their transmission fluid "lifetime fill". What this really means though, is just the lifetime of the warranty and not the lifetime of the vehicle. We recommend replacing your automatic transmission fluid every 30,000 to 40,000 miles as with any automatic transmission. Not only does this keep fresh fluid flowing through the transmission, but it allows you to inspect for the early warning signs of potential transmission failure.
How long does it take to service a Volvo automatic transmission?
Book time to complete the job is 3 hours. If you're doing the job yourself for the first time, it would be a good idea to set aside a full day to be as careful as possible.
How much does it cost to complete a service on a Volvo automatic transmission ?
If you plan to take your car to the dealer to have this job done, you'd be looking at it costing around $300. By purchasing the parts through us and doing this job yourself, you will only pay a fraction of that. If you still have the , you can make use of our Lifetime Replacement Guarantee.
Tools required to service a Volvo automatic transmission:
Parts required to service a Volvo automatic transmission
We offer a multitude of kits designed to complete a fluid change service on many different models of Volvo. Tolerances are extremely tight in these transmissions which makes it crucial that you choose the right kit for your car. Below is a list of each, but you should use the vehicle selector in the "My Garage" tool on the top right of our website.
- KIT-521830: Early TF80SC transmissions using the JWS 3309 Spec Aisin fluid
- KIT-521825: Early TF80SC transmissions using the Genuine Volvo fluid
- KIT-521827: Later TF80SC transmissions using the JWS 3324 WS Aisin fluid
- KIT-519014: Later TF80SC transmissions using the Genuine Volvo fluid
- KIT-ATFWSKT: Kit for TG81SC transmissions using JWS 3324 WS Aisin fluid
- KIT-ATFWSKT2: Kit for TG81SC transmissions using Genuine Volvo fluid
Steps required to service a Volvo automatic transmission:
Step 1: Make sure the car and transmission is warm
Start by removing the two 10mm bolts on the driver’s side. Then, remove the plug from the mass airflow sensor and loosen the outer hose clamp in the intake tube. Gently lift up on the tab of the mass airflow sensor plug and pull it off of the sensor. A long flat-blade screwdriver can aid in lifting the tab.
Step 2: Remove the airbox
Using a flathead screwdriver, loosen the hoseclamp at the top of the airbox.
Next, disconnect the Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF).
Next, remove the 6 T25 Torx fasteners that hold the airbox cover in place.
Once those are removed, you can lift the airbox cover and air filter out and place it to the side.
With the air filter out of the way, you now have access to remove the zipties and clips that hold the wiring to the airbox. The smaller ziptie clips can be removed with pliers while the larger ones must be snipped.
Now that everything is disconnected, the airbox housing can be removed. This isn't held in place by any fasteners, instead it's held in only by bushings and a single compression clip. We recommend using a 3/8" socket to compress the clip as you pull up on the airbox.
Step 3: Loosen the transmission fill plug
Using a T55 on an extension, loosen the transmission fill plug. You want to do this before draining any fluid out of the transmission just in case the fill plug can't be removed. This way, you won't be stuck with an empty transmission and an immobile car.
Step 4: Remove the splash shield from underneath the car
It's time to now get underneath the car. Whether you're using a jack and jack stands or an automotive lift, always practice safe lifting procedure. Once underneath the car, use a T30 Torx socket to remove the 8 fasteners holding it in place. It's not uncommon to find these replaced with non-standard hardware as they do take a beating underneath the car.
Additionally, there are two flat clips that hold the shield in place on either side. A flathead screwdriver makes quick work of these.
Step 5: Remove the transmission drain plugs
The drain plug on these transmissions is a dual stage plug. To remove it, first remove the inner plug using a T40 Torx socket. This is the first drain of the transmission so be careful, the fluid will still be hot.
Once the fluid stops draining from the T40 drain plug, you can go ahead and use your 17mm hex socket to remove the second stage plug. An additional 3-plus quarts of fluid will drain from this, so be ready to catch it all.
Step 6: Reinstall the transmission drain plugs
The next step is the reverse of step 5. You want to loosely reinstall the drain plugs so that you can flush out the remaining old fluid inside the transmission. First start by threading the 17mm in by hand, and then the T40 afterward. Neither need to be more than hand tight as they seal with o-rings, but it does help to use your T40 Torx socket to make sure it seats fully.
Step 7: Remove the transmission fill plug completely
Back up in the engine bay, you want to completely remove the transmission fill plug that you loosened in the beginning. To do so, use your T55 Torx socket and an extension on your ratchet.
Step 8: Perform the first transmission fill and flush
With the plug removed, use a funnel to fill the transmission with 4 liters of fluid.
Once you do this, replace the transmission fill plug just hand tight. It will have to be removed again, so there's no sense in torquing it completely.
Step 9: Replace the airbox and mass airflow sensor
This isn't quite the reverse of step 2, as you don't need to fasten everything down. You want to make sure the airbox is roughly in place and that the MAF is plugged in. You are only doing this to prevent any check engine lights or codes from being thrown in the ECU.
Step 10: Start the car and cycle through the gears
This step is to ensure that you adequately mix the 4 liters of fluid you just added to the transmission with the nearly 3.5 liters that should have been left in the transmission.
Start by placing your foot on the brake pedal and cycling through the gears, from reverse, to park, to drive, and back once again. You only need to stay in gear for 5-10 seconds per gear.
Step 11: Repeat step 5 to remove drain plugs and replace o-ring
Back under the car, you want to remove the drain plugs just as you did in step 5. Have something ready to catch a little more fluid that what poured out the last time.
While that's draining, you can replace the o-ring on the drain plug. You can use a screwdriver or tool pick to remove the old o-ring. The new one you simply slide down and into place.
Step 12: Reinstall transmission drain plugs
Start by reinstalling the outer 17mm hex drain plug. This is torqued to 35Nm.
The inner drain plug you only want to snug to hand tight using your T40 Torx socket. This will have to come out one last time.
Step 13: Remove the airbox and fill transmission
Once again, go back up to the engine bay and remove the airbox. This should be the last time you have to do this. Once the airbox is out of your way, remove the T55 fill plug and add your remaining 4 liters of fluid. Snug the fill plug to hand tight, it doesn't need more than that.
Step 14: Reverse step 2 to reinstall the airbox completely
For this, reverse the method in step 2. This isn't coming back apart again, so you can snug everything down properly.
Step 15: Use a scan tool and bring the transmission up to temperature
Start by getting in your car and starting it with a scan tool that can read transmission temperatures plugged in. We recommend the Autel MX808 for this job, but this is up to your preference.
With your foot on the brake, run the car through the gears like you did after the first fill. You can then put the car back in park and leave it running. You want to let the car run until the transmission oil temperature is between 50 and 60 degrees Celsius.
Step 16: Final transmission fluid level set
With the car still running and completely level, you want to get back underneath and remove the T40 Torx drain plug once more. The goal here is to let the transmission fluid drain from this plug until it is dripping only one drop at a time. Use caution at this stage as the transmission fluid will be extremely hot.
You can now install the drain plug for the last time. At this stage, you want to torque it to 8Nm.
Step 17: Replace the splash shield
The last step in this process is to replace the splash shield on the underside of the car. To do so, follow step 4 in reverse.
Volvo P2, P3, & SPA Transmission Service Torque Specs
- 17mm hex transmission drain plug - 30Nm
- T40 Torx transmission drain plug - 8Nm
If you're interested in more DIYs for your Volvo, you can visit volvo.fcpeuro.com or subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Adam can often be found in the FCP Euro catalog department when he’s not elbow-deep in a European car in the shop. When the weather is warm, you’ll usually find him on pegs of his sport touring motorcycle exploring the American Northeast. He’s been a pit crew fueler (aka ‘the wick’) for a professional race team, as well as built his own Lemons racing car. One thing is for sure—if it involves going fast and making loud noises, he’s in.