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Old 03-06-2008, 08:15 AM   #1
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Default How To Install a Transaxle Cooler w/pics

If you have a an automatic transaxle, this is a mod you should really consider doing. It could save you an expensive repair down the road. I'm not a pro and if you have some comment about a better way to do this, please post.

JACKING SAFETY You will need to raise the front of the car either on ramps or jack stands. Before you get under it, please try to knock the car off it's supports. If you succeed, you might have just saved yourself serious injury.

You'll need to drain the fluid, so you might as well do this while you're doing a change.

Remove the intake resonator and filter box. Then get under the car and remove all the plastic under the radiator. It's held in place with 4 plastic rivets.

Remove the cooler and all parts from it's packaging. Be careful handling it. It's very easy to bend the cooling fins. Next connect the ends of the hose to the cooler outputs. Do not cut the hose at this time.



The return line is the one closest to the filter. Go ahead and disconnect it at the transaxle by squeezing the tabs and let it drain. Now's a good time to verify that it comes from the bottom of the radiator. If it doesn't, you'll need to swap it with the other line at the transaxle.

Next unscrew the bottom transaxle cooling line at the radiator and pull the line out. In this case, I had to use vice grips to get the line loose at the radiator. The kit should come with a fitting that should work. So, it's okay to do that. I like to use the original quick disconnect fitting to do this job. So, it's time for some bench work on that hose to get the fitting out. I used a 3" pneumatic cutoff wheel but, I don't see why this couldn't be done with a hack saw or even a file. Cut some slots in the end clamp and gently pry it off with a screwdriver.



If you don't booger up the old radiator fitting with vice grips, you might want to do the same thing to it. It looks a little cleaner.

Now remove the two radiator retaining brackets at the top of the radiator with a 10mm socket. Pull the radiator up out of its lower mounts and push it back. If you have AC (I do), that will give you enough room to unscrew the two 10mm screws that hold the condenser on. It'll drop down.

Next get the cooler ready to mount by sticking the foam pads to the cooler and pushing the retainers through the cooler.



Now mount the cooler to the condenser by pushing the retainers through the condenser. To do this requires a pulling the retainers back through the cooler a bit.



Put the locking disks on the retainers, cut off the excess, and get the condenser and radiator back properly mounted.

Mount either the original fitting or the one that came with the kit in the lower radiator hole. Now route the hose that comes from the top of the cooler to the lower radiator fitting and cut. Do not put it on and clamp yet.

Put the quick disconnect fitting from the original hose back into the transaaxle and route the hose from the bottom of the cooler to it. Cut off any excess.

Lastly and this isn't absolutely necessary but, I like to put plastic conduit on the hoses to protect them. You can get it at any parts store for around $2. Get the conduit on the hoses and clamp down the ends.



Install the new transmission filter. Reinstall all the plastic and the air filter box. Expect the transaxle to require 1 to 2 quarts more ATF.
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Old 03-06-2008, 09:14 AM   #2
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Default Re: How To Install a Transaxle Cooler w/pics

That's one big cooler for a little car. Insurance cubed!

With what it costs to work on automatic transmissions these days, a cooler is a really good investment on almost anything that doesn't already have a decent cooler from the factory.

This one should hit the how to library. Dollar for dollar probably one of the biggest repair saving threads you could find after keeping the oil filled.
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Old 03-06-2008, 10:17 AM   #3
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Default Re: How To Install a Transaxle Cooler w/pics

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That's one big cooler for a little car. Insurance cubed!
Yeah, I kind of overdid it but, it won't hurt to have it a little cooler and the car's going to my sister in-law, meaning I'll be seeing it again for any major repair. So, a little extra insurance doesn't bother me. Besides it was only about $10 more.
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Old 03-06-2008, 11:11 AM   #4
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Default Re: How To Install a Transaxle Cooler w/pics

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That's one big cooler for a little car. Insurance cubed!

Wow. I think thats bigger than the one I put on my Suburban. The ones I use on Saturns have four tubes.
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Old 03-06-2008, 11:45 AM   #5
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Default Re: How To Install a Transaxle Cooler w/pics

Cooler should be put in before the radiator,removing the superhot fluid temp,then flow through the radiator cooler ,to maintain operating temp.
Yes from trans through cooler ,then through radiator,back to trans.
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Old 03-06-2008, 11:52 AM   #6
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Default Re: How To Install a Transaxle Cooler w/pics

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Cooler should be put in before the radiator,removing the superhot fluid temp,then flow through the radiator cooler ,to maintain operating temp.
Yes from trans through cooler ,then through radiator,back to trans.
I've seen that one argued both ways and I don't intend to argue it here. I went for maximum cooling.
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Old 03-06-2008, 11:56 AM   #7
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Default Re: How To Install a Transaxle Cooler w/pics

my oil cooler is 4 tubes and is infront of the rad. just like his
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Old 03-06-2008, 01:24 PM   #8
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Default Re: How To Install a Transaxle Cooler w/pics

do these saturn transmissions pump in park? meaning...is there fluid circulating in the cooler lines when it's idling in park?
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Old 03-06-2008, 03:34 PM   #9
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Default Re: How To Install a Transaxle Cooler w/pics

Pump in park ? NO
pump in neutral ? still NO,most other trans. do pump in neutral though!
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Old 03-06-2008, 03:57 PM   #10
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Default Re: How To Install a Transaxle Cooler w/pics

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Pump in park ? NO
pump in neutral ? still NO,most other trans. do pump in neutral though!
That's interesting, I would have said yes but, I didn't know for sure. I'm afraid now that this is going sound like a smartassed question when I'd really like to know the answer. If the fluid's not circulating in park, whys does it say everywhere I've ever looked to check the fluid while hot and in park with the engine running? If the fluid's not circulating, you could check it just while it's hot with the engine off.
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Old 03-06-2008, 04:55 PM   #11
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Default Re: How To Install a Transaxle Cooler w/pics

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That's interesting, I would have said yes but, I didn't know for sure. I'm afraid now that this is going sound like a smartassed question when I'd really like to know the answer. If the fluid's not circulating in park, whys does it say everywhere I've ever looked to check the fluid while hot and in park with the engine running? If the fluid's not circulating, you could check it just while it's hot with the engine off.
I have no answer for that, smartassed or legitimate.


But it seems like an excellent question if the car doesn't pump fluid in park.




As for the operating temp and routing thing, I've seen way too many debates on it myself, but have yet to hear of actual damage to a transmisson run too cold.
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Old 03-06-2008, 04:59 PM   #12
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Default Re: How To Install a Transaxle Cooler w/pics

The question was, does it pump through the cooler ?
the pump is running ,fluid is flowing ,it just passes out a port on the valvebody, back to bottom of case .........
I thought the same thing,even told someone to check flow to cooler ,while in (N ) ,only to discover later that no flow occurrs in (N)or (P)
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Old 03-06-2008, 05:34 PM   #13
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Default Re: How To Install a Transaxle Cooler w/pics

Ahhhh thanks for clearing that up.

BTW Just so everyone knows. It was my intent to get Charlie to move this to the How-To library after giving people a suitable time to tell me that I did it wrong. So far no one's done that but, I'll let it make it topage two before asking him to do it.

To take care of the one disagreement. I'll just say if you want the fluid to flow throught the cooler and then through the radiator, just reverse the hose arrangement.
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Old 03-06-2008, 05:51 PM   #14
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Default Re: How To Install a Transaxle Cooler w/pics

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To take care of the one disagreement. I'll just say if you want the fluid to flow throught the cooler and then through the radiator, just reverse the hose arrangement.
Gosh, BarnOwl, I never woulda thought of you as "pro-choice" .
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Old 03-06-2008, 05:55 PM   #15
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Default Re: How To Install a Transaxle Cooler w/pics

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Gosh, BarnOwl, I never woulda thought of you as "pro-choice" .
C'mon!!! You know I'm a libertarian!!!
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Old 03-06-2008, 06:23 PM   #16
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Default Re: How To Install a Transaxle Cooler w/pics

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Originally Posted by Dr B View Post
Cooler should be put in before the radiator,removing the superhot fluid temp,then flow through the radiator cooler ,to maintain operating temp.
Yes from trans through cooler ,then through radiator,back to trans.
What i did on mine was skip the rad. cooler altogether.The original one had a leak which let coolant into the trans cooler and into the trans. $1,200 later to fix the trans,i added an external cooler and have never used the stock one since.
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Old 03-06-2008, 10:03 PM   #17
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Default Re: How To Install a Transaxle Cooler w/pics

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If the fluid's not circulating in park, whys does it say everywhere I've ever looked to check the fluid while hot and in park with the engine running? If the fluid's not circulating, you could check it just while it's hot with the engine off.
Back in the dark ages (of plugs, points and condensers.. I'm seeing a theme here..) I was taught to check the ATF at operating temp, running the trans through R, N, D, R for 10 sec. each, then back to P, and then check with it the engine running the whole time. I always thought that's what's in the owners manual as well?? (didn't get one with the Sat. to check) Isn't that still the standard procedure?

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Old 03-07-2008, 12:22 AM   #18
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Default Re: How To Install a Transaxle Cooler w/pics

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Pump in park ? NO
pump in neutral ? still NO,most other trans. do pump in neutral though!

Only reason I asked is I know most stock Chrysler transmissions don't pump fluid in PARK. Even in Jeep owner manuals, it says avoid extended idling because the trans could over heat. When I had the trans rebuilt HD in my old black Grand Cherokee, the shift kit was already modified to pump fluid in park as well. My XJ with a AW4 japanese automatic does indeed pump fluid through the cooler in park/neutral.

GM trucks and cars pump fluid through the lines in park, the one's I've flushed out anyway. I just guessed that the saturn wasn't any different and pumped through the lines in park too
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Old 03-07-2008, 04:24 AM   #19
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Default Re: How To Install a Transaxle Cooler w/pics

Would it be ok to just skip the rad cooler as stated above? Y put hot fluid back into it?

Ive never really delt with autos...Im a slamin gears kinda guy.....
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Old 03-07-2008, 07:26 AM   #20
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Default Re: How To Install a Transaxle Cooler w/pics

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Would it be ok to just skip the rad cooler as stated above? Y put hot fluid back into it?

Ive never really delt with autos...Im a slamin gears kinda guy.....
You're asking about the debate Dr B and I didn't get into. I'm of the school that says if I'm going to cool a transmission, I'm going to cool it as much as I can. So, I routed the fluid through the radiator first then through the cooler. That way the radiator cools it and the cooler cools it more.

The other school of thought is that the transmission needs to maintain a certain temperature. So, you don't want to cool it too much. If you think that, you'd want it to go through the cooler first then through the radiator. That way, if the cooler cools it too much, the radiator will get it to operating temp.

For what it's worth, I suspect that geography has as much to do with the difference in Dr B's and my way of thinking as anything else. Around here, ambient is almost always warm enough for the tranny to shift smoothly. There are places where that's not the case.

Now what sc2dave did is skip the radiator because he had a rare failure. The Radiator failed and allowed coolant to mix with the radiator fluid. I've only heard of that once before and it wasn't on a Saturn.
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