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#1027621 - 11/14/07 02:10 AM Transmission fluid should never be changed. EVER.
Anduril Offline


Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 699
Loc: Perris, CA
"Automatic transmissions are the work of the devil."
- An unnamed BITOG member, quoting another unnamed BITOG member

So, guess what I did today? And if you're about to say I danced around the forest in green overalls singing nonsense about how I deserve a big juicy burger, for the last time, that wasn't me! It's a lie, I tell you.

If you're more sane than that and think I changed my ATF, you'd be right. And from what I'd read over at J-Body.org, I knew the dipsticks over in GM's engineering department took away my precious, well, dipstick, on the 2000 model, but I thought it would be a simple matter of driving the car up on some ramps, removing that famous "check plug" everyone hates so much, and watching all the excess fluid I poured in drain out until it got to the right level. And it would have been quite a simple process, if I hadn't made it infinitely more complicated than it needed to be, but more on that later.

([censored] cell phone pics are all I have because, well, all I had with my was my [censored] cell phone. With a [censored] camera.)

Here is the vehicle in question. It would be (his) in my signature, as opposed to (hers), which comes with a dipstick!!!!!


My oh-so-convenient work area


My Chilton's guide was wrong... I wrote in my own correction for future reference


Pan removed. The old fluid is still it's normal color, and there's not too much sludge on the bottom for a fluid that's gone 8 years and 55,000 miles. I know it's the original fill because the filler cap was so crusted on that it couldn't have ever been opened, and the previous owner was an Asian female who didn't even know which engine the thing had.


My cleaning solutions of choice. Time to get to work.

Ironically, the Simple Green is yellow. But it was Lemon-scented, which is coincidentally the name of the other half's parakeet, so I really had no choice but to buy it.

And here is the little bundle of feathers, provided for your viewing pleasure


All shiny and cleaned up, ready for a gasket and to go back on the car


All that khrap used to be inside my transmission. Now it's probably never going to come out of my towels.


Yes, that box has an orange label on it. No, I don't care \:\)


On a side note, I had no idea that when I removed the filter from inside the tranny, more fluid was going to fall out. So, instead of catching it in my handy-dandy drain pan, I caught it with my clothes. And my hair. And everything in between.

Oh no, I seem to have a hole leftover and no bolt to fit it


But, as I like to tell my wimminfolk, why would there be a hole there if there wasn't supposed to be something inside of it ;).

Of course, at that point the woman in question usually slaps me if she hasn't already. The Chevy, though, appears to be a bit more... Cavalier than that, so I wouldn't expect that type of response from it.

Oh! There it is! Luckily it was just big enough to avoid fitting through that hole there.


All screws are back in their proper holes, reattached to car, and tightened everything back up.


My lubricant of choice

"For TRANSMISSIONS!" That's lovely to know, I thought I might as well swap out the "premium synthetic lubrication technology" in my engine for this stuff as well, but I guess I can't. The label on the bottle has thwarted me again!


So, as I began pouring bottles of fluid into my tranny, I all of the sudden had one of those moments where something amazing dawns on you and you feel like either a complete idiot, or worthy of winning the nobel prize. I felt like the former, as I realized "oh [censored], it's not daylight savings time anymore. And I'm not done yet. And the sun is going down. And I am going to have to do the rest of this by candlelight. In the snow. Uphill both ways. With a candle made out of ice."

So, remember how I said I made the process of getting the fluid level way more complicated than it had to be? Well this is the part where everything starts going wrong, and I do exactly that. So everything I have read has pointed me to the fact that there's a plug somewhere on the bottom of the transmission (I emphasize somewhere because not one of my sources provided me with a specific location, or a picture that made any sense) that I have to pull to allow excess fluid to flow out, leaving just the right amount of fluid in the vehicle.

Unfortunately, once I actually got down there and looked, there is not one, but three plugs on the general bottom side of the transmission. And I only realized this after I had pulled what I thought was the one that I was supposed to remove. Long story short, it wasn't. Instead of draining the excess fluid, this particular plug's purpose was in case I ever want to install a temperature gauge. Which I don't. However, when removed, it has the convenient side-effect of draining almost all the fluid in the transmission. Strike one.

So I go back to Google and try again. I find a halfway decent diagram of my transmission, with the proper plug labeled, so I go with it. However, something gets lost in translation from the diagram to my brain, and I proceed to remove an utterly useless bolt. Oh well, at least nothing drained out, and the transmission didn't fall out of the car completely. I replace the bolt. Strike two.

And then there was one. It had to be the correct bolt, and it was. Unfortunately, it was located right next to both my exhaust pipe and my oil pan. And as the engine had to be idling to produce the proper fluid level, both of these tended to be very hot. So with the utmost of care and a few curse words I threaded an extension socket around both of the aforementioned items, possibly inventing a new style of yoga in the process, and removed the bolt. Fluid poured out, into the drain pan that I almost forgot to put there to catch it.

But my reign of stupidity was not over. I put the pan there, yes, but I forgot to remove the lid. So, while fluid did indeed pour onto the pan, it did not pour into the pan. It just collected in the little basin on top. And I had to reach my hand into the mess it created to remove the lid. Did I mention that fluid that's been sitting in an idling transmission is also hot?

Moral of the story? I am never again driving a vehicle without a transmission dipstick.


Edited by Anduril (11/14/07 02:49 AM)
_________________________
4 wheels: 2000 Chevy Cavalier 2dr (His), 1999 Chevy Cavalier 4dr (Hers)
2 wheels: 2009 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 (His), 2013 Hyosung ST7 (Hers)

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#1027632 - 11/14/07 03:28 AM Re: Transmission fluid should never be changed. EVER. [Re: Anduril]
Black_Thunder Offline


Registered: 09/23/06
Posts: 788
Loc: Wisconsin
yup i've done my fair share of tranny fluid swaps and i've made quite a big mess several times, its definitely not a fun experience thats why i try to do it when cold ;\)

another thing i use to clean the pan is chlorine-free brake clean, works very good to remove the crud and it evaporates after severl minutes so no need to wipe out any remaining residue.

and thank [censored] all my vehicles are rear-wheel drive oriented so the pan is somewhat easy to get at ;\)

and i will never own a vehicle without a dipstick unless it is indeed with a manual transmission :D
_________________________
I'd buy Callahan autoparts if I could.

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#1027665 - 11/14/07 06:50 AM Re: Transmission fluid should never be changed. EVER. [Re: Black_Thunder]
road_rascal Offline


Registered: 12/09/02
Posts: 736
Loc: Twin Cities, MN
I've done the same service to my sister-in-laws 2001 Grand Am and mother-in-laws 2001 Intrigue. I still used the fluid vac snaked through the inspection plug on the side and sucked about 90% of the fluid out to reduce the mess. Still a pain in the rear.

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#1027678 - 11/14/07 07:18 AM Re: Transmission fluid should never be changed. EVER. [Re: road_rascal]
wantin150 Offline


Registered: 02/27/06
Posts: 1899
Loc: Columbia, SC
Best read all day!

\:\)
_________________________
2003 Toyota Matrix XRS 87,000 miles
2008 Scion xD 14,500 miles
2007 Yamaha YZF600r 8,400 miles

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#1027686 - 11/14/07 07:36 AM Re: Transmission fluid should never be changed. EVER. [Re: wantin150]
XPR Offline


Registered: 09/12/07
Posts: 569
Loc: USA
Sometimes its worth it to pay someone else to do a job
_________________________
A 3,000 mile OCI is a waste! Use a full synthetic oil!

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#1027731 - 11/14/07 08:59 AM Re: Transmission fluid should never be changed. EVER. [Re: XPR]
benjamming Offline


Registered: 01/03/04
Posts: 5665
Loc: northern Alabama
XPR,

but we wouldn't have this great story then and he wouldn't have this great story to tell his grandkids one day.

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#1027882 - 11/14/07 12:12 PM Re: Transmission fluid should never be changed. EVER. [Re: benjamming]
crw Offline


Registered: 05/31/05
Posts: 1608
Loc: Pocatello, ID
Gee, doing this on my VW without a dipstick was a breeze. Piece of cake. Best of all, the fluid that comes out smells like a really good hamburger. Yummmm!
_________________________
2004 Mini Cooper -- 1975 BMW 2002 -- a bunch of others...

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#1027899 - 11/14/07 12:27 PM Re: Transmission fluid should never be changed. EVER. [Re: crw]
Dad2leia Offline


Registered: 09/06/05
Posts: 1192
Loc: Glenshaw, PA
I don't do transmission pans anymore....period.

If it's a plug (like on Honda) then yes, I will, but pan..nope.
_________________________
Yeah, whatever..at least for now.

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#1027911 - 11/14/07 12:45 PM Re: Transmission fluid should never be changed. E [Re: XPR]
Anduril Offline


Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 699
Loc: Perris, CA
I'm beginning to share your opinion, but hey, there's a first time for everything, right? It's not so much the fact that I made a huge mess (it was all outside, and spraying the pavement down with simple green and a hose removed all the oil that didn't quite make it to the drain pan), but the fact that I ran out of light that made this such a difficult thing to do. Messing around under the car with nothing but a flashlight looking for something that you don't quite know where it is can be a real pain.

Smacking your head on the oil pan because the engine cooling fans come on (left it idling too long) and startle you isn't a high point of my day either.


Edited by Anduril (11/14/07 12:49 PM)
_________________________
4 wheels: 2000 Chevy Cavalier 2dr (His), 1999 Chevy Cavalier 4dr (Hers)
2 wheels: 2009 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 (His), 2013 Hyosung ST7 (Hers)

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#1027923 - 11/14/07 01:07 PM Re: Transmission fluid should never be changed. E [Re: Anduril]
EricZoom Offline


Registered: 05/10/04
Posts: 582
Loc: South FLorida
After reading that,almost makes doing a drain-refill on my Mazda6 a pleasure. Drain plug and dipstick included.
_________________________
04 Mazda6s - M1 EP 5w20
11' Cad SRX - No more DIY OC's, All covered under warranty

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#1027937 - 11/14/07 01:21 PM Re: Transmission fluid should never be changed. E [Re: EricZoom]
Master ACiD Offline


Registered: 10/15/05
Posts: 2364
Loc: sebring, florida
i dont get why people make such a big stink about auto trans not having dipsticks. rear ends dont have dipsticks and no one cares. manual trans dont have them and no one cares. windshield washer fluid bottle usually dont have them and no one cares.

it isnt any more difficult to replace or check the fluid in an autowithout a dipstick as compared to a manual without one.

the only thing that might be more complex is the pan and filter. but thats not dipstick related.
_________________________
"Kerosene that is fully additive formulated may make a good oil." -aehaas

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#1027961 - 11/14/07 01:37 PM Re: Transmission fluid should never be changed. E [Re: Master ACiD]
Anduril Offline


Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 699
Loc: Perris, CA
You don't have to be under the car with the engine running, burning yourself on the exhaust and oil pan to check/fill a diff or manual tranny.
_________________________
4 wheels: 2000 Chevy Cavalier 2dr (His), 1999 Chevy Cavalier 4dr (Hers)
2 wheels: 2009 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 (His), 2013 Hyosung ST7 (Hers)

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#1028076 - 11/14/07 04:45 PM Re: Transmission fluid should never be changed. E [Re: Anduril]
Master ACiD Offline


Registered: 10/15/05
Posts: 2364
Loc: sebring, florida
transmission don't normally need level checking though. thats why they removed the dipstick.

its just like a gearbox or a rear end as i stated earlier. you don't check the rear end and gearbox fluid at every fuel fill up do you? of course not. no need to check the auto trans either.
_________________________
"Kerosene that is fully additive formulated may make a good oil." -aehaas

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#1028131 - 11/14/07 05:45 PM Re: Transmission fluid should never be changed. E [Re: Master ACiD]
Alan Offline


Registered: 07/13/03
Posts: 1462
Loc: MD
Love my Yota and Benz.

On the Yota just pull the pan ad differential plugs and refill through the dipstick tube(4qts exactly).

On my benz just pull the plugs on the pan and the torque converter ad refill with 7.5qts.

DONE!
_________________________
2011 Toyota Camry

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#1028256 - 11/14/07 08:09 PM Re: Transmission fluid should never be changed. E [Re: Master ACiD]
Anduril Offline


Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 699
Loc: Perris, CA
 Originally Posted By: Master ACiD
transmission don't normally need level checking though. thats why they removed the dipstick.

its just like a gearbox or a rear end as i stated earlier. you don't check the rear end and gearbox fluid at every fuel fill up do you? of course not. no need to check the auto trans either.

If I just replaced all the fluid, it's kind of important to get the level correct afterwards, no?
_________________________
4 wheels: 2000 Chevy Cavalier 2dr (His), 1999 Chevy Cavalier 4dr (Hers)
2 wheels: 2009 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 (His), 2013 Hyosung ST7 (Hers)

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