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Old 11-14-2008, 09:55 PM   #61
oreoucky
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2002 SL1
Default Re: "S" Series automatic transaxle fluid/filter change

I have just read through this and it seems rather easy. I have never worked on my car (2002 sl1) before but want to learn to do general maintenance. This seems like a good first job.

The car has about 60k and has never head a transmission fluid change or filter change, so i figure its about time.

I just have a few open questions after reading this thread.

1)Does one need to raise the car at all to drain the fluid? It is not mentioned.

2)Is the filter wrench necessary or can one simply take it out with their hand?

3)Is there a specific part number? Costs?

Besides that everything seems good.

Thanks

Justin

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Old 11-14-2008, 10:20 PM   #62
Growser
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2000 SL1
Default Re: "S" Series automatic transaxle fluid/filter change

Get to the AT filter by removing the airbox for easier access. Have a Saturn OEM AT filter ready and 4.2 Quarts of Dexron III or IV (check your owner's manual) for fluid capacities. Many members swear by Mobil 1 and Amsoil AT Fluid. Run the car to warm it up, then use appropriate safety gear/equipment. I remove the old filter by hand but there's no reason you can't use a wrench if you need to, just watch the wires.

Pour a small quantity of clean fluid into the new filter and lightly wipe the top of the filter rubber seal with new fluid - let it sit to absorb in. Open the drain under the tranny. I jack the car up as I'm too fat to get under it, There's nothing that says you have to. Remove the old filter. Be careful of the wires above and below the filter. I usually disconnect the top one. Let it drain, then wipe the filter's contact points with a clean towel. Then open the drain plug under the tranny. Reinstall the new filter, hand tight then a quarter turn. When installing the filter look for the factory filter magnet that looks like a donut. According to the experts on this site you can dispose of it and that it actually blocks tranny fluid if left on. Reinstall the drain plug. WARNING - DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN THE DRAIN PLUG. USE A TORQUE WRENCH. Measure the amount of fluid removed from the tranny (including filter). Should be around 4 quarts. Add the new fluid in, run the car until warm, then check the fluid level a couple times to get an accurate average.

CHECK FOR LEAKS, THEN TAKE FOR TEST DRIVE.

...
7 Saturn Car Family with + 900,000 miles.
2002 SL2, 2000 SL1, 1997 SC2, 1997 SC1, 1996 SC1, 1994 SC2, and now a 93 SC2 project car.

Last edited by Growser; 11-14-2008 at 10:22 PM.. Reason: SPELLING

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Old 11-15-2008, 07:13 PM   #63
Consultant
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1996 SL2
Default Re: "S" Series automatic transaxle fluid/filter change

I changed the A/T fluid on a 1996 S2 (my wife's car) early this summer before a long (about 1K) trip. Never did an A/T on a Saturn before - got motivated when changing the engine oil and looked up on the other side to see the red filter with "Transmission" on it.

The owners manual is very specific about Dextron III for that car. Did quite a bit of online research and called some Saturn dealers - one said Dextron III, the other said Dextron VI - much of the detailed online references cautioned against Dextron VI in earlier GM transmissions, especially Saturns. Decided to stick with the OEM Dextron III (used Castrol Domestic Multi-vehicle) . It was easier than an engine oil change (removing the air filter box makes it a lot easier to get to the filter) Saturn puts a drain plug on the A/T pan - just make sure you have a large enough tray to catch the 5 qts. Refill per the owner's manual on capacity - and check the dipstick as directed (running in park, as I recall) and fill to top off (if needed).

The last dealer A/T service had been 3 years prior - car seemed a bit "peppier" after the recent fluid change.

As an aside - I found the local Saturn dealer had the best price on the A/T filter (about $17) - and it was in stock - all the parts stores were special order for the Brand X aftermarket filters.

Filled the gas tank before hitting the highway for the trip and checked the mileage along the way - 33mpg (which I couldn't believe) and then 34mpg. - all highway speeds. It's the DOHC engine, and had recent Bosch +2 plugs, new plug wires and an oil and filter change just before the trip.Has about 66K on it - mostly dealer serviced since new, one owner.

I wish my T-bird's A/T was as easy to service as the Saturn.

Now about those front sway bar bushings...

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Old 11-17-2008, 04:33 PM   #64
bobfather99
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Default Re: "S" Series automatic transaxle fluid/filter change

Consultant,

Be careful with the Bosch plugs. There have been reports of problems with the Saturn ignition system...

You may get even better mileage with the NGKs, or just standard Champion/Delco/Autolite plugs...(non platinum)

Nonetheless, good job on using the Castrol ATF, Ive used it too in the past..

...
94 Blue SL1 RIP Thanks to a Drunk Uninsured Driver
95 White Bonneville w/190k

Soon Ill be back in Saturnland.....

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Old 01-04-2009, 01:04 AM   #65
scottsb
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Default Re: "S" Series automatic transaxle fluid/filter change

Is it necessary to measure the old transmission fluid if you leave it long enough to make sure it's completely drained (an hour)? My car manual ('93 SL2) says that the capacity after a drain and filter change is 3.5 quarts. Can I just add that much instead of measuring the old stuff?

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Old 01-18-2009, 10:59 AM   #66
CND_SC1
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Default Re: "S" Series automatic transaxle fluid/filter change

Quote:
Originally Posted by scottsb View Post
Is it necessary to measure the old transmission fluid if you leave it long enough to make sure it's completely drained (an hour)? My car manual ('93 SL2) says that the capacity after a drain and filter change is 3.5 quarts. Can I just add that much instead of measuring the old stuff?

I'd measure it to be on the safe side. My car drained more than 4 quarts both times in under 3 minutes.

The first time in 2006, I took that 3.5 litterally and only bought 4 bottles of ATF. Had to plug it off when the 4L catch recepticle overfilled. Had to put back a few ounces of the old stuff. If it were left to continue trickling another 5 minutes, it probably would have been close to 5 quarts.

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Old 03-18-2009, 08:41 PM   #67
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Default Re: "S" Series automatic transaxle fluid/filter change

Some starter info:
2002 SL2 (auto obviously)
33750 miles, purchased from Saturn retailer with 8800K (assuming no prior change)

From my experience this afternoon changing it:

* Removing the battery box was not at all necessary, the filter was very accessible after removing only the air filter box.
*A lot more fluid came out after I took off the filter than anticipated from reading this how-to (obviously I pulled the drain plug off first). Be careful of that.
*I replaced just over 4 quarts of fluid (close to 4 1/8 quarts or so).
My fluid color was a pretty dark red, bordering brown. If I had to assign a hexadecimal web color code to it...it would be 99-00-00.
*I was able to reuse the magnet, it was covered in metal shavings. I put the magnet on the transmission body and then put the filter on, which was easier than putting the magnet on the filter then screwing it on the transmission.
*The wires were a pain in the *****. :-)

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Old 03-21-2009, 07:21 PM   #68
lecatpuke
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Default Re: "S" Series automatic transaxle fluid/filter change

Just did a fluid/filter drain and change. Total drained and refilled was roughly 4 1/4 quarts, give or take a couple ounces to get it to the FULL spectrum.

One thing that was slightly different with my OEM filter was the tightening spec. I know the recommended tightness is ~3/4 turns after the gasket contacts the base, but that was pretty loose for me. Ended up losing a couple ounces to the driveway after a few hours. Went back and saw it was coming from the filter and it turned an extra 1 1/2 turns pretty easy, to a snug hand-tightness. Haven't noticed any leaks since.

Anything wrong with this?

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Old 05-03-2009, 10:49 PM   #69
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Default Re: "S" Series automatic transaxle fluid/filter change

It took me a long time, but that's partly because this is my first car that I've owned that I've done any work on (the ECTS had already been changed, so I put some teflon tape and put it back in). I have a '96 SW2 with 107k, I've put about 700 miles on the car since I bought it a month ago. There was nothing specifically wrong, but I did feel that it ran a little rough. No major problems and not noticeably underpowered, just felt a little off.

The transmission fluid seemed clear/light enough, but between feeling it a little rough, not having the service records, and the advanced age of the car, I decided to change it anyway. Wal-Mart had Valvolene Max ATF (for 75,000+ trannies, said compatible with Dex II/III) in the gallon and quart sizes, I bought one of each (strangely it would not have been much cheaper to have bought 5 quarts) since I'd read that it would be 4.2 quarts total. It was ~$19 with tax. The OEM filter from the dealership was $18. I spent $3 on a drip tray but should have spent more on a larger one... I made a mess. Altogether I only spent $40 though!

I also paid $30 for a pair of ramps and jack stands off of craigslist. The ramps are too steep for the front tires, which was a bit of a drag, but it worked well enough to reverse onto them and to jack the front end. I don't think I could've gotten to the drain plug without it... maybe by touch?

Part of the reason that I made such a mess is that I was convinced that more fluid would drain out of the drain plug when I removed the filter--it did, but I didn't realize that there would also be a significant amount (more) to come out from the filter. The fluid that drained was much darker than that which was in the dipstick. I wonder if the dealer didn't top it off to keep the dipstick clean? I think that it's just that solids settle, so I wouldn't put too much faith in the dipstick fluid color (dark still means change, but clear doesn't mean you're in the clear!).

It also took me a long time to remove the airbox until a roommate lent me a 10mm nutdriver. My 3" ratchet extension was insufficient to reach the front nut. I removed two electrical connections, the inlet air temp sensor and whatever was to my right (car's left) and up from the filter. It was easy to change the filter by hand without a filter/band wrench. I forgot to reattach the inlet air temp sensor which ended up throwing an error code. It didn't reset when I plugged it back in so I had to go to Autozone. Is there a code reset that I should have had them do to indicate that I'd changed the ATF?

Since I was unsure of how much had come out versus was in my drip pan, I only added 4 quarts to start. About 1/5 of the way into my test drive, I noticed that the temperature was higher than it had ever been before (just above halfway) and pulled over to add ATF. Thankfully I had brought the funnel with me, but I still made more mess... any advice for how to remove ATF from the outside of the bottle?!?

The instructions here were great. Strictly speaking the time that I spent may not have been worth that much in savings, but I don't know if it would have run as well or at least if it would have felt like as much of an improvement had someone else had done it.

Next up:
EGR valve cleaning
Radiator Flush
Throttle Body Cleaning

The engine smells smoky enough to make me think about a new head gasket, but the oil loss through 700 miles has only been ~200mL. So, that's about a quart per oil change. Not bad compared to many on here, so I might just let that one go for a while and see if there is any change.

New plugs/wires might be the next biggest improvement. I'll have to pick up a plug socket and some dielectric grease before checking them.


M@

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Old 05-05-2009, 12:04 AM   #70
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Default Re: "S" Series automatic transaxle fluid/filter change

The really shameful part on my side of this?

(Note: I'm only 18 so I still live with my Dad.)

He was a mechanic for almost twenty years. Owns 7 vehicles (3 Saturns).

Has never changed, or had the ATF fluid changed.

Though, is changing the fluid absolutely necessary?

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Old 11-11-2009, 06:42 PM   #71
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Default Re: "S" Series automatic transaxle fluid/filter change

Quote:
Originally Posted by p8ntballsniper8 View Post
The really shameful part on my side of this?

(Note: I'm only 18 so I still live with my Dad.)

He was a mechanic for almost twenty years. Owns 7 vehicles (3 Saturns).

Has never changed, or had the ATF fluid changed.

Though, is changing the fluid absolutely necessary?
Yes, don't you change the oil in your motor? Transmission is the same just does not get dirty as fast so you do not have to change it as much but yes you should. I know people that have never changed the oil in there motor, they only last so long when you do things like that.

...
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2004 Chevy D-Max/Ally with 114,000 Miles

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Old 11-14-2009, 06:27 PM   #72
Derek McNelly
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Default Re: "S" Series automatic transaxle fluid/filter change

Quote:
Originally Posted by calirider View Post
Yes, don't you change the oil in your motor? Transmission is the same just does not get dirty as fast so you do not have to change it as much but yes you should. I know people that have never changed the oil in there motor, they only last so long when you do things like that.
There are some transmissions which are "run till die" type affairs. Used to be more common, especially on RWD vehicles. (4L60E trans comes to mind.)

On the Saturn however, it's a good idea to do a transmission fluid change every 30k. Simple maintenance like that can save a lot on costly repairs.

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Old 11-24-2010, 07:18 PM   #73
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Default Re: "S" Series automatic transaxle fluid/filter change

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek McNelly View Post
There are some transmissions which are "run till die" type affairs. Used to be more common, especially on RWD vehicles. (4L60E trans comes to mind.)
Really old thread, I know, but; my 2008 Mazda3 doesn't have a specified service interval for trans fluid. Supposed to change it only if the fluid is burnt/contaminated.

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Old 11-26-2010, 03:39 PM   #74
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Default Re: "S" Series automatic transaxle fluid/filter change

i must have missed the part of getting rid of the magnet. been using it with non-oem replacement filter for the past two changes. i better get rid of it now.

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Old 12-21-2010, 07:53 PM   #75
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Default Re: "S" Series automatic transaxle fluid/filter change

Now that it's difficult or impossible to pick up OEM transmission filters, can anyone suggest other brands I might look for that would be of comparable quality?

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Old 01-15-2011, 04:56 PM   #76
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Default Re: "S" Series automatic transaxle fluid/filter change

Quote:
Originally Posted by bitterlemons View Post
Now that it's difficult or impossible to pick up OEM transmission filters, can anyone suggest other brands I might look for that would be of comparable quality?
Bump +1

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Old 03-07-2011, 10:24 PM   #77
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Question Re: "S" Series automatic transaxle fluid/filter change

I've got the same question. I'm about to change a/t fluid in my '99 sl2, but the compatible filters at autozone and davnace auto parts are from Duralast and ProKing, not Wix or Napa. Where is it suggested I get a filter? Are there places still selling OEM saturn filters?

thanks!

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Old 03-26-2011, 08:16 PM   #78
johnny95sl2
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Default Re: "S" Series automatic transaxle fluid/filter change

I ordered the wix at rock auto when I bought a few other parts. It was on special for 7 bux.

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Old 03-26-2011, 09:04 PM   #79
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Happy Re: "S" Series automatic transaxle fluid/filter change

Wix #57101.

...
As of Oct 2017
∙ 2002 SL1 128K
∙ 2004 VUE 120K
∙ 2007 ION3 108K
...
Past
∙ 1993 SL2 212K
∙ 1993 SC2 140K
∙ 1996 SC2 157K
∙ 1996 SC2 126K
∙ 2001 SC2, 145K
∙ 2002 L200 20K
...

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Old 04-26-2011, 01:07 PM   #80
boilerroom
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Default Re: "S" Series automatic transaxle fluid/filter change

i found my OEM ATF filter on ebay. It was only $4 and luckily was local pick up. Surprisingly it was made my FRAM, yet people on the forum suggest to not use FRAM products. I went OEM based on wolfman suggestion so I am not looking back at this point.

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