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Changing your transmission fluid Changing your transmission fluid
lqh2552
05-03-2012

I recently changed my transmission fluid and figured it wouldn't hurt to share how I went about it. It's pretty simple as I assume many on this forum have already done it, but hopefully this might help someone. Although the fluid is listed as "fill for life", I figure it wouldn't hurt to change it since I was at 125k miles.

Here are the repair manual instructions:



The transmission fluid:



I believe the official fluid capacity is 1.7 quarts, but I used both bottles and let whatever it didn't need spill out. I bought the fluid from Crate Engine Depot along with some FE5 rear shocks. It's pretty expensive, but I figured since I'll probably do this only once or twice in this car's life, it's no big deal.

Stuff I used:

-8 mm short hex key
-8 mm hex key socket
-8 mm socket
-3/8" extension (6")
-3/8" extension (3")
-1/2" to 3/8" adapter
-1/2 extension (10", I believe)
-Flexible funnel (I got it for $1.99 at Harbor Freight; it's literally called "Transmission Flexible Funnel" or something like that. It's cheap and flimsy, but got the job done.)

1. Per the manual, drive the car around to warm up the fluid. The manual says about 15 miles of highway driving, which is around what I did.

2. Jack up the front end and take off the front left wheel. ***At this point, you're probably thinking, "Doesn't the car need to be level to fill the transmission fluid accurately?" Well, you can go ahead and put all four wheels up, but I don't think it makes noticeable difference to just lift the front end up. Look at the repair manual transmission side diagram above and do what you feel here based on what you think is right.

3. Remove the top filler/level plug (labeled "2" in the repair manual instructions). It's a bolt with an 8 mm hex key hole.



You have limited space, so you'll have to use some ingenuity here to get to that bolt. This is what I came up with with the extensions and 8 mm hex key socket I listed above:



It gave me just enough room to break the bolt loose.



Once you break the bolt loose (and I might add that I had to give it a pretty good tug; they really meant "fill for life" because it seems they torqued it to infinity), you can loosen the bolt with your hands. I will note here that no fluid spilled out when I removed the bolt, indicating the fluid level is below this fill hole.

4. Place an oil pan or whatever to catch the fluid and remove the bottom drain plug (labeled "1" in the repair manual instructions). It's also a bolt with an 8 mm hex key hole. This one is trickier to get to because there's only about 1.5" of clearance before the subframe gets in the way. My normal 8 mm hex key was too long so I got a short 8 mm hex key for cheap (again at Harbor Freight --- yes, I'm a poor and cheap bastard.).

This is how much room you have:



This is my little setup:



The extensions give me a long enough handle to break the bolt loose.



Again, once you break the bolt loose, you can removed it the rest of the way by hand. Take a look at the amount of metal shavings on the bolt (Friggin magnets, how do they work? )



Let the fluid drain and clean the drain bolt of the metal shavings. I noted that the red fluid coming out didn't look that bad, but meh . You can apply the sealant they refer to in the manual or you can just rinse and put the plug back in like I did. The manual says to tighten it to 37 lb.ft., but because of the limited space, I could not fit my torque wrench in there. I just tighten it to as much as I thought it needed (keeping in mind 37 lb.ft. is not that much).

5. Using a flexible funnel into the top fill hole, fill the transmission with the fluid. Here's a picture of the setup:



Again, space was limited, so I had to be patient here because the funnel is shallow and the flexible tube was small. I carefully poured in a little bit of transmission fluid at a time and let it fully empty into the transmission before adding some more to the funnel. Even a screw-up like me did not spill anything here, so if you take your time, you should be good. I poured both quarts in there and let the rest spill out into the pan. When no more fluid overflowed, I rinsed the filler plug with a bit of transmission fluid and bolted it back in. This time I was able to torque it to the specified 37 lb.ft.

6. Well, you're pretty much done. Just clean everything up and make sure the two plugs are tight enough and go for a test drive. In all honesty, I didn't notice a difference in shifter feel, but it gave me peace of mind that I had new fluid in there, I guess. I checked the plugs a little bit later to observe any sort of leakage; there was no leakage, so I guess they're in there tight enough.

Good luck!!!
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  #1 (permalink)  
Vyperpunk on 05-04-2012, 08:47 AM
Very nice writeup bud. I've been meaning to do this for a while now, but I've just been lazy. The car sits in the garage most of the time anyway, so it's not really urgent that I do it.
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  #2 (permalink)  
RLProfessional on 05-04-2012, 01:58 PM
Great write up. Sticky worthy
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  #3 (permalink)  
BluelinePWR on 05-04-2012, 03:06 PM
Nice write up. I thought we were supposed to fill up the tranny fluid wile the car was level?
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  #4 (permalink)  
GMRedline on 05-12-2012, 03:08 PM
Nice write up.

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  #5 (permalink)  
GMRedline on 05-12-2012, 03:09 PM
This is the original Saturn fluid.

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  #6 (permalink)  
habby on 09-27-2012, 04:25 PM
has anyone ever used royal purple gear oil for theres?
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  #7 (permalink)  
iAaron on 09-27-2012, 05:07 PM
I know a few have, personally redline mt-90 works amazingly, and is cheap


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  #8 (permalink)  
GMRedline on 09-27-2012, 05:16 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by iAaron View Post
I know a few have, personally redline mt-90 works amazingly, and is cheap


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How many miles have you been running it in your RL?
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  #9 (permalink)  
iAaron on 09-27-2012, 07:13 PM
30k now, uh oh. Is it bad long term? O.o


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