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Old 06-18-2018, 07:35 PM   #1
bonbarrett
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Default transmission fluid change on 2002 SL2 automatic

I have a 2002 SL2 automatic. My garage recently added 2 quarts of Dexron VI transmission fluid, due to a leak. When I got home I decided to do some checking on Dexron VI. I found the thread from Nov. of 2013 here that says this is definitely the wrong fluid for the car and references GM Bulletin #04-07-30-037E. I have been checking with a number of other sources including the Saturn Owner Assistance line, the GM live chat, a local GM dealer and ACDelco. All recommend Dexron VI although none could explain the issue with the previously mentioned bulletin. Since the thread that I found was almost 5 years old I thought perhaps things have changed. Can anyone give me advice on this?

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Old 06-18-2018, 07:41 PM   #2
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Default Re: transmission fluid change on 2002 SL2 automatic

Drain it all out fast.
The Saturn S series must only use Dexron III compatible. nothing else.

Being that it's now mixed up and into the torque converter, unless you remove the trans hard lines threaded into the rear of the radiator, and drain from there, you will otherwise need to do several regular trans drain and refills to completely remove that Dex iV stuff.

Oh, and Welcome to the Forum!

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Old 06-18-2018, 07:52 PM   #3
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Default Re: transmission fluid change on 2002 SL2 automatic

The GM Bulletin concerning Dexron VI says that it is compatible with any former version of Dexron for use in automatic transmissions.

And, thanks for the Welcome.

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Old 06-18-2018, 08:22 PM   #4
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Default Re: transmission fluid change on 2002 SL2 automatic

Read the back label on the bottle of Dextron VI. Here is a link to a photo of it

http://www.saturnfans.com/photos/sho...om-b/cat/12963

Refer to the second paragraph....it basically says except Saturn S Series among a list of other GM models.

Here is a link to the bulletin it referenced on the label >> http://www.revbase.com/BBBMotor/Tsb/...dPdf?id=168779

It notes except Saturn S Series 1991-2002.

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Last edited by trottida; 06-18-2018 at 08:33 PM..

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Old 06-18-2018, 09:54 PM   #5
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Default Re: transmission fluid change on 2002 SL2 automatic

Like I and others have said:

"Drain it all out fast.
The Saturn S series must only use Dexron III compatible. nothing else."

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Old 06-19-2018, 06:04 AM   #6
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Default Re: transmission fluid change on 2002 SL2 automatic

Quote:
Originally Posted by bonbarrett View Post
The GM Bulletin concerning Dexron VI says that it is compatible with any former version of Dexron for use in automatic transmissions.

And, thanks for the Welcome.
This bulletin you found is INCORRECT. The bottles of Dexron-VI fluid will have clear print stating that it is NOT to be used in the Saturn S-Series transmission.

Dexron-VI has too low of viscosity index at 100C(212F), which is a specification used by oil companies when they test the lubricating properties of a hydraulic oil.

As Toggenburg has already stated, and in addition to the thread you have found, you ONLY use Dexron-III in these cars.

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Old 06-19-2018, 06:52 AM   #7
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Default Re: transmission fluid change on 2002 SL2 automatic

I honestly think the OP has bigger issues if that much fluid needed to be added. Also on one of the tans fluid changes I did on my own I had I accidentally followed a recommendation on here to use the red bottle of Valvoline Maxlife Synthetic only to find out it was a Dexron VI type fluid.
Bottom line nothing happened (though I did not let it stay in there long enough to really test that) I changed it out with 2 quick succession fluid changes using Valvoline Multi Vehicle Import Synthetic in the blue bottle.
B4 anyone thinks that odd, if you look at the TRUE specs of the vehicles it's recommended for all those vehicles in their owner's manuals recommend Dexron III or their own fluids ONLY.
I went on to use this fluid for the rest of the life this car until it was totaled in a wreck at about 220k miles with a completely "untouched" trans that still worked perfectly.

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Old 06-19-2018, 08:03 AM   #8
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Default Re: transmission fluid change on 2002 SL2 automatic

Quote:
Originally Posted by underthehood View Post
I honestly think the OP has bigger issues if that much fluid needed to be added. Also on one of the tans fluid changes I did on my own I had I accidentally followed a recommendation on here to use the red bottle of Valvoline Maxlife Synthetic only to find out it was a Dexron VI type fluid.
Bottom line nothing happened (though I did not let it stay in there long enough to really test that) I changed it out with 2 quick succession fluid changes using Valvoline Multi Vehicle Import Synthetic in the blue bottle.
B4 anyone thinks that odd, if you look at the TRUE specs of the vehicles it's recommended for all those vehicles in their owner's manuals recommend Dexron III or their own fluids ONLY.
I went on to use this fluid for the rest of the life this car until it was totaled in a wreck at about 220k miles with a completely "untouched" trans that still worked perfectly.

I recall posts stating similar and IIRC at least one member used the Dex VI for 15-20,000 miles before realizing it wasn't intended for S Series cars.

I've also seen evidence that at least in some applications, the lack of approval for certain transmissions is simply due to a change in the material used for certain seals. One of the people that did fluid testing and approvals on Allison transmissions stated such in the heavier transmissions, and stated that otherwise Dex VI would be a great fluid. He also said that he knew of no actual failures in the seals when people used the Dex VI, and it was frequent in the truck transmissions (both light and heavy) due to it involving specific years that the seal type changed.

I suspect that much of the speculation on viscosity and such is just that... speculation. It's not as if any auto tranny has a crazy specific spec for the viscosity, otherwise everyone would be running full synthetics so the fluid would stay more stable, or risking failures if they didn't.

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Old 06-19-2018, 02:16 PM   #9
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Default Re: transmission fluid change on 2002 SL2 automatic

https://www.mobil.com/english-us/pas...l-dexronvi-atf

Mobil-1 Dexron-VI ATF VI @ 100C: 5.83

http://pocl.gov.bd/wp-content/upload.../TOTAL_ATF.pdf

Total ATF Dexron-III compatible viscosity @ 100C: 7.1

The viscosity is the fluid's ability to stick to the components, thus keeping them lubricated. It is not speculation, it is FACT. GM changed to Dexron-VI, in 2006, as a way to help improve fuel economy in their newer 6-speed automatic transmissions, so they could comply with stricter CAFE regulations.

Lighter viscosity reduces pumping losses, but sacrifices critical lubrication of high-friction moving parts, thus increasing wear upon them and leading to quicker failures within the transmission.

And most newer 2006-up GM's have almost as many automatic transmission problems as Chrysler has been having since the early 1980s......

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Old 06-19-2018, 02:23 PM   #10
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Default Re: transmission fluid change on 2002 SL2 automatic

The issue is how the TAAT operates. The system pressure control is accomplished by a pulse modulated solenoid valve. As there is NO pressure sensor in these transmissions the line pressure is a calculation based on the fluid temperature and viscosity. Actual pressure is a critical parameter. The fluid change interval is based on the original TAAT fluid shearing down to a viscosity between 5.5 -6.0 cSt. Dex-6 is at the replacement point new out of the bottle.

The manual trans tends to experience shifting issues with lower than design fluid viscosity.

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Old 06-19-2018, 02:24 PM   #11
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Default Re: transmission fluid change on 2002 SL2 automatic

My only comment to this thread is that if the garage added the wrong fluid, then liability and responsibility for removing the wrong fluid lies with the garage.

You should return to the garage with the car and get them to undertake a complete tranny fluid flush out and refill with the correct fluid. If not, then they are on the hook for any damage done to the tranny. Don't think about doing it yourself. Get them to do it.

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Old 06-19-2018, 02:29 PM   #12
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Default Re: transmission fluid change on 2002 SL2 automatic

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
The issue is how the TAAT operates. The system pressure control is accomplished by a pulse modulated solenoid valve. As there is NO pressure sensor in these transmissions the line pressure is a calculation based on the fluid temperature and viscosity. Actual pressure is a critical parameter. The fluid change interval is based on the original TAAT fluid shearing down to a viscosity between 5.5 -6.0 cSt. Dex-6 is at the replacement point new out of the bottle.

The manual trans tends to experience shifting issues with lower than design fluid viscosity.
Thank you, Nuc. I can recall you having to have stated this point many times, in most of these discussions, about the viscosity index being critical in the auto transmission.

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Old 06-19-2018, 02:31 PM   #13
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Default Re: transmission fluid change on 2002 SL2 automatic

Quote:
Originally Posted by floridasl22002 View Post
My only comment to this thread is that if the garage added the wrong fluid, then liability and responsibility for removing the wrong fluid lies with the garage.

You should return to the garage with the car and get them to undertake a complete tranny fluid flush out and refill with the correct fluid. If not, then they are on the hook for any damage done to the tranny. Don't think about doing it yourself. Get them to do it.
You NEVER want to flush these transmissions. Only do the fluid changes and swap new filters. Two or three fluid changes with all Dexron-III will rid the system of the remaining Dexron-VI. I would probably do them at every 1,000-1,500 miles, over the next 4-5k miles of driving.

While the garage IS at-fault for putting the wrong viscosity fluid in the transmission, according to GM's misinformation of the technical service bulletin, he would never have a case in court for civil damages if the transmission fails and requires replacement.

In this specific case, he will be better off doing extra fluid changes as he has been advised & changing mechanics to somewhere else for maintenance needs.

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Old 06-19-2018, 04:03 PM   #14
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Default Re: transmission fluid change on 2002 SL2 automatic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saturn Night View Post
You NEVER want to flush these transmissions. Only do the fluid changes and swap new filters. Two or three fluid changes with all Dexron-III will rid the system of the remaining Dexron-VI. I would probably do them at every 1,000-1,500 miles, over the next 4-5k miles of driving.

While the garage IS at-fault for putting the wrong viscosity fluid in the transmission, according to GM's misinformation of the technical service bulletin, he would never have a case in court for civil damages if the transmission fails and requires replacement.

In this specific case, he will be better off doing extra fluid changes as he has been advised & changing mechanics to somewhere else for maintenance needs.

I didn't mean a transmission flush as such as I know they do more damage than anything. I really meant to get the ALL fluid out of the transmission and the correct stuff in.

This thread has shown that whilst the Bulletin is misleading, what it says on the bottles of the transmission fluid is both clear and correct. That should be pointed out to the garage. Personally, having paid for this work, I would expect them to put it right. If you are going to always fix the garages mistakes yourself, there seems little point in using the garage in the first place!

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Old 06-19-2018, 04:28 PM   #15
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Default Re: transmission fluid change on 2002 SL2 automatic

The viscosity is critical in the S-Series auto trans but it is not that critical on most of the other types with several exceptions.

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Old 06-19-2018, 04:47 PM   #16
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Default Re: transmission fluid change on 2002 SL2 automatic

Glad I read this Thread. I was about to do a scheduled fluid change with full synthetic Dexron VI since I was under the same impression that what one reads on bottles should be accurate.

Thanks all.

Now to go back to the Auto parts store to make an exchange.

Maybe just ordinary Dex III unless someone recommends a good Full Synthetic alternative?

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Old 06-19-2018, 05:03 PM   #17
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Default Re: transmission fluid change on 2002 SL2 automatic

Quote:
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Maybe just ordinary Dex III unless someone recommends a good Full Synthetic alternative?
Somebody here recommended Valvoline Import Multi-Vehicle ATF (blue bottle - they have a similar named ATF in a red bottle). No personal experience with it.

https://sharena21.springcm.com/Publi...2-ac162d889bd1

Lists as fully synthetic, meeting Dex III/Mercon, and 6.9 cSt @ 100c

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Old 06-19-2018, 06:58 PM   #18
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Default Re: transmission fluid change on 2002 SL2 automatic

Been using Mobil-1 ATF in the 99 Wagon all it's life. Now has 149000 miles on the odometer, tranny untouched, shifts perfect. (automatic).

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Old 06-19-2018, 07:09 PM   #19
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Default Re: transmission fluid change on 2002 SL2 automatic

Mobil-1 synthetic ATF that is marked Dexron/Mercon compatible or Universal ATF or states Dex-3 and has a viscosity of 7.1 to 7.5

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Old 06-19-2018, 11:03 PM   #20
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Default Re: transmission fluid change on 2002 SL2 automatic

I know I'm going against the grain here, but I have a '97 sc2 and all I have ever used is Valvoline MaxLife ATF in the red bottle (which is apparently DEX-6 compatible). I have been using this since Valvoline made it, and I now have over 400,000 miles on the original transmission. I have no fluid leaks and no bad shifting. I've made it this far, so I will continue to use it. I drain/refill and change filter every 30,000.

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