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Old 10-21-2018, 07:33 PM   #1
OlHillbilly
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2002 SL1
Default Low Transmission Fluid..

How on earth does a car run and shift fine being almost 2 quarts low on transmission fluid? I've never seen any sign of a leak from it, but it took almost that much to get it up to the full line on the stick. Normal procedure for checking it, motor hot, level, idling in park. Book says 4 quarts, maybe a little bit more, took a good 5 quarts to fill it after I changed it last time.
It has developed a growling noise from the drive line (sounds like 40" mud tires) that I can't find, so checked the fluid to see if anything was off there, and it apparently was. Don't know if the low fluid took a bearing out around the differential or what. Noise is definitely wheel speed and isn't a wheel bearing (replaced both of them and the right side CV axle last summer). Jacked both sides up and spun the wheels, perfectly quiet.
Any ideas on what else bearing wise could be bad?

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Old 10-21-2018, 09:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: Low Transmission Fluid..

For a small transmission only designed to support up to 124hp, maybe being down 2 quarts has a nill short term effect. On your noise, I had a noise like you described and it was a combo of my rear suspension being out of alignment after I replaced by rear trailing arms. It scuffed my rear tires ( feathered ) them. I was told if those trailing arms rubber grommets are worn it will do the same thing. My trailer arms lasted 16 years and 400,000 km. Inspect your rear tires and see what they look like.

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Old 10-21-2018, 09:13 PM   #3
OlHillbilly
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Default Re: Low Transmission Fluid..

Rear tires are good. Jacked the rear wheels up looking for wheel bearing or something out, tires are wearing even and spinning smoothly. Car has 130k miles on it.
My problem is in the front drive line somewhere. Wheel speed and isn't affected by turning one way or the other. No sound at slow speeds (windows down, head out listening), 15-20 mph it's starts becoming audible on the inside of the car.

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Old 10-21-2018, 09:40 PM   #4
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Default Re: Low Transmission Fluid..

ok, couple of things. Does the noise go away if you shift into neutral at 50 mph going down hill ? Maybe jack the car up with all wheels off the ground, put in on good quality jack stands. Start the car up and put it in gear and get the wheels free spinning. With a friend in the car on the throttle, you go to each wheel and see if you can isolate the noise. Maybe even take the wheels off. This test does not have the weight of the car on the suspension and wheel bearing which may not help but if there is issue inside the transmission you may hear the noise.

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Old 10-29-2018, 05:02 AM   #5
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Default Re: Low Transmission Fluid..

Quote:
Originally Posted by gveinot View Post
ok, couple of things. Does the noise go away if you shift into neutral at 50 mph going down hill ? Maybe jack the car up with all wheels off the ground, put in on good quality jack stands. Start the car up and put it in gear and get the wheels free spinning. With a friend in the car on the throttle, you go to each wheel and see if you can isolate the noise. Maybe even take the wheels off. This test does not have the weight of the car on the suspension and wheel bearing which may not help but if there is issue inside the transmission you may hear the noise.
I'll try the neutral down a hill thing. What would it indicate if the noise goes away?
I've been driving it, nothing has changed in 400 miles. Friend from work has a lift at his house, am waiting for him to get his truck finished and off of it and I'll get the Saturn in the air and see if I can find something there.

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Old 10-29-2018, 06:22 PM   #6
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Default Re: Low Transmission Fluid..

by shifting into neutral you remove parts of the transmission from the drivetrain, hence if the noise disappears, you know for certain the noise is coming from the transmission.

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Old 10-29-2018, 07:41 PM   #7
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Default Re: Low Transmission Fluid..

Quote:
Originally Posted by gveinot View Post
by shifting into neutral you remove parts of the transmission from the drivetrain, hence if the noise disappears, you know for certain the noise is coming from the transmission.
Thanks for that tip! I'm gonna try this to isolate the noise I'm having (although transmission fluid is clean and at the full mark)

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