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Old 04-18-2006, 08:06 PM   #1
frostypanic
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Default Fluid Change and New Filter for Tranny or Just Fluid Flush?

Wifes 00 L 200 is closing in on 100K should I get the tranny fluid and filter changed or just get the fluid flushed. Saturn Dealer or independent Tranny Shop. I live in a Urban Neighborhood so tranny shops and independent repair shops are all over the place but the Satty shop is close by and have been satisfied with the work done, brake job and shim kit install. Any and all opinions, points of view welcome. The fuel filter, plugs I will do myself. Oh yeah GM says the coolant is good for 150K but I am planning on doing the flush for coolant at the same time as the tranny work. Suggestions on the coolant flush or replace.

Thanks,

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Old 04-18-2006, 08:23 PM   #2
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Default Re: Fluid Change and New Filter for Tranny or Just Fluid Flush?

You havent indicated whether tranny service was done before or not.

I have had two flushes done both at Saturn dealers. I am afraid to goto regular shops after hearing some horror stories. First flush at 73k and second at 100k miles.

Flush gets all the fluid (15 quarts approximately) but leaves the filter inside. Upside is that you can go longer between intervals. Dump and fill gets about 6 qts app and hence is recommended more frequently for that reason. However, dropping the pan frequently is okay if proper sealing is done.. if not fluid will leak and your tranny will be toast.

After second flush, my tranny is bloody smooth. Apparently BG fluid was used again and is highly recommended. First a cleaner is sent followed by fluid. Rule of thumb is that if you dont have a problem before ATF change, you will not have it after(if done properly) If anything it will shift much smoother.

Some people are ignorant and suggest one to keep their old fluid if tranny has high mileage. This is a myth.
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Old 04-18-2006, 08:28 PM   #3
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Default Re: Fluid Change and New Filter for Tranny or Just Fluid Flush?

Tranny is on original fluid per Saturn's maintenance intervals.

Brian
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Old 04-18-2006, 09:03 PM   #4
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Default Re: Fluid Change and New Filter for Tranny or Just Fluid Flush?

I had a filter & fluid change on my L200 @ 55K miles. From that point forward Saturn could never get the pan to reseal properly and it still leaks to this day. I've never had a problem with their work before so I don't if its just a difficult thing to do or just bad luck for me.
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Old 04-18-2006, 09:26 PM   #5
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Default Re: Fluid Change and New Filter for Tranny or Just Fluid Flush?

Quote:
Originally Posted by frostypanic
Tranny is on original fluid per Saturn's maintenance intervals.

Brian

I bet you did your oil changes at 3k religiously ... but forgot about the tranny. Truth is that transmissions are very complex and get damaged easily. 100k interval is in ideal conditions which most cars will never see. Ever been in snow? Its brutal for tranny... When you get fluid changed, ask the mechanic if the fluid gives out a burnt odor and if it is black. If so, your tranny's life has been shortened. Irony is that most people I know dump their cars once tranny develops trouble even if engine is in excellent condition.
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Old 04-19-2006, 09:43 PM   #6
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Default Re: Fluid Change and New Filter for Tranny or Just Fluid Flush?

Actually I change the oil at 4k intervals, and I read the manual clearly states 100K for tranny service intervals. Why would GM/Saturn make such a claim if it weren't true. My neighbor has over 150K on his 00 L and serviced his tranny at 100K also and his car is still running strong.

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Old 04-19-2006, 10:49 PM   #7
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Default Re: Fluid Change and New Filter for Tranny or Just Fluid Flush?

You mean you can actually change the fluid in those trannies? I was told they were sealed, hence no dipstick to check the fluid level. Or is my 4 banger diff??
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Old 04-19-2006, 11:54 PM   #8
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Default Re: Fluid Change and New Filter for Tranny or Just Fluid Flush?

Pluto,

Check out your owner's manual and under normal usage 100K for the tranny, 100K for the plugs and 150K for the coolant. I'am going to do all three at 100K. Wife's ride is at 94K now. Going to change out the plugs and fuel filter this weekend.

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Old 05-02-2006, 09:27 PM   #9
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Default Re: Fluid Change and New Filter for Tranny or Just Fluid Flush?

1) Drain/fill the coolant only. Save yourself the hassle of a flush. It is a messy and time consuming activity that brings little or no benefits over two coolant drain/fills spaced one week apart. Sure, you will need to purchase an additional gallon of coolant and distilled water for $12 together, but to me, it’s worth the extra expense. Since your L200 already came with DexCool, I would purchase two gallons of Prestone DexCool @ $10/gallon from Walmart and two gallons of distilled water. Mix the two gallons of Prestone DexCool and distilled water together in a clean 5 gallon bucket.

Drain the system using the lower radiator hose. It’s the quickest way to do it. Also drain the engine block if possible. If you are unable to, I would not worry about it. The L200’s cooling system is 7.4 quarts, and draining the radiator and the block would remove > 6 quarts of the original 50/50 DexCool/Water mixture. You’d be replacing > 70% of the coolant. A second drain/fill will remove any additional debris and will result in > 90% new coolant in the system. There is no need to remove all of the coolant from the system. The intent is to remove the majority of the coolant to refresh the corrosion inhibitors.

Also, DexCool needs to be changed every 5-years or 150,000 miles, whichever comes first. My father forgot the time limit on the original “green” coolant in my ’96 SL2, and ran it for 4.5 years and 34,000 miles before the first change, leaving a lot of “gunk” in the system possibly due to the silicate fallout.

2) I would change the transmission fluid by dropping the pan, change the filter, cleaning the pan and its magnets, and refilling with either a good quality Dexron-IIIH fluid (i.e. Chevron or Pennzoil) or Dexron-VI fluid. A transmission fluid exchange without dropping the pan and changing the filter, at this mileage, is a poor choice.

Most transmission shops will run 14 quarts of transmission fluid through a unit. I’ve been told that the GM 4T45E units have a capacity of either 10 or 13 quarts, but I believe it’s the latter. Try mentally picturing a transmission fluid exchange in action. The cooler lines are connected to the machine, and your transmission is full of old fluid. New fluid is pushed into the transmission, while old fluid is being pumped out. Your transmission pan, which holds 7 quarts, is completely full of old fluid. When new fluid is pushed in, it lands into a pan full of old fluid (which is being continuously pumped out, but still). In addition to the pan, the new fluid will also come in contact with old fluid in other parts of the transmission, such as the torque converter and valve body.

Because of this, a transmission fluid exchange without first dropping the pan and replacing the filter may only remove ~75% of the old fluid. A pan drop alone will remove about 55% of the old fluid in the system. The ideal combination here, would be to drop the pan, change the filter, refill with fresh fluid, THEN run the transmission fluid exchange process. My local Aamco charges about $200 to drop the pan, change the filter, refill, and then run their T-Tech machine. The quickest way for a complete fluid change for a backyard mechanic would be to drop the pan, replace the filter, and refill, but do not replace the pan gasket. Drive the car for a week (several hundred miles), and remove the pan once more. This time, install the new gasket when you reinstall the pan and refill. By doing this, you will remove 80% of the fluid old fluid.

With regards to leaks, you can greatly minimize the possibility of leaks by using a high quality pan gasket. Many of the aftermarket filter kits will include a poor quality cork gasket. Buy a Genuine Saturn or ACDelco filter kit with a rubber gasket and high-quality filter to minimize your possibility of leaks.

Lastly, the GM 4T40/4T45E transmissions are certainly serviceable. To service the system, you begin by dropping the pan, changing the filter, cleaning the pan magnets and the pan itself. Then, loosen the fluid “check plug” on the side of the transmission so it is finger tight. To fill the transmission either locate the “fill cap” around the master cylinder area or by attaching a flexible tube to the end of a funnel, and placing the tube into the check plug hole. If you’re filling the transmission through the fill cap, add a full 7.0 quarts. Replace the cap. If you’re filling through the check plug, you’ll be able to add about 4.0 quarts before the fluid begins spilling out. (Note: If you can refill through the fill cap, measure the amount of fluid that you remove to be sure that it is less than 7.0 quarts. Then, simply add 7.0 quarts and not worry about checking the fluid level)

Now, if you’ve filled the transmission using the check plug, immediately upon starting the car, quickly add more fluid through the check plug hole. You should be able to add another 3.0 quarts of transmission fluid before the fluid begins to spill out of the check plug. Then, wait until the pan is lukewarm, and add a bit more fluid until the fluid begins spilling out. If you’ve used 7.0 quarts of fluid, and the fluid you originally drained from the transmission is around 7.0 quarts, then you have done it correctly. Tighten the check plug and you’re good to go!

If you’ve filled through the fill cap, and wish to check the fluid level, wait until the pan is lukewarm by feel, then open the check plug. If a small amount of fluid comes out, then the fluid level is correct and you should reinstall and tighten the check plug.

Those has been the recommended procedures for other vehicles equipped with the GM 4T40/4T45E transmissions and it should apply for the Saturn vehicles as well.

Hope this helps.
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Old 05-02-2006, 10:44 PM   #10
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Default Re: Fluid Change and New Filter for Tranny or Just Fluid Flush?

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Critic
1) Drain/fill the coolant only. Save yourself the hassle of a flush.
I had water pump changed when tbelt was being changed. My assumption is that along with new water pump, new coolant is added to make up for the loss essentially tantamounting to a coolant flush. Should I still go ahead and get coolant flush?
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Old 05-02-2006, 11:17 PM   #11
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Default Re: Fluid Change and New Filter for Tranny or Just Fluid Flush?

Quote:
Originally Posted by marmaduke
I had water pump changed when tbelt was being changed. My assumption is that along with new water pump, new coolant is added to make up for the loss essentially tantamounting to a coolant flush. Should I still go ahead and get coolant flush?
Yes, you're fine. Leave it alone.
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Old 04-09-2009, 05:22 PM   #12
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Default Re: Fluid Change and New Filter for Tranny or Just Fluid Flush?

Well well well- I am glad I read this thread.
GF has L200 with 128,000 miles (bought new) and never changed the fluid (nor does the owner's manual recommend it, unless certain "severe" driving conditions exist). I think 7 years is "severe" enough!!!!

I bought a filter and gasket at a local parts house (reputable so far) and I see that the gasket is cork.

Time to regroup......

Thanks again
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Old 04-09-2009, 06:20 PM   #13
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Default Re: Fluid Change and New Filter for Tranny or Just Fluid Flush?

The aftermarket filter is probably OK, but get the gasket from saturn, or better yet, get the gasket and filter from an ACDelco supplier since the same gasket / filter was used for many years in Cavaliers, etc.
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Old 04-10-2009, 05:13 AM   #14
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Default Re: Fluid Change and New Filter for Tranny or Just Fluid Flush?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeNW View Post
Well well well- I am glad I read this thread.
GF has L200 with 128,000 miles (bought new) and never changed the fluid (nor does the owner's manual recommend it, unless certain "severe" driving conditions exist). I think 7 years is "severe" enough!!!!

I bought a filter and gasket at a local parts house (reputable so far) and I see that the gasket is cork.

Time to regroup......

Thanks again
Get a SPX/Filtran filter kit from your local Transtar.

If it's a GM Hydromatic transmission, then use an approved GM Dexron-VI fluid. It's the only approved fluid for GM Hydramatic transmissions now.
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Old 04-10-2009, 07:58 AM   #15
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Default Re: Fluid Change and New Filter for Tranny or Just Fluid Flush?

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Originally Posted by frostypanic View Post
Pluto,

Check out your owner's manual and under normal usage 100K for the tranny, 100K for the plugs and 150K for the coolant. I'am going to do all three at 100K. Wife's ride is at 94K now. Going to change out the plugs and fuel filter this weekend.

Brian
Yeah, "normal useage" is all highway, no stop and go traffic, limited used in "cold" temps, no high speed driving, no trailer towing, etc. All other use is considered "severe service" and the tranny fluid should be changed at 50k intervals. This is from the owners manual on my '00. Both the dealer and my mechanic suggest a 60k fluid change interval, especially the 4t45 with the picky Pressure Control Solenoid.

I have the fluid flushed around 50-60k, then around 100k or so I will have the pan dropped and the filter changed. Both cars had darker fluid at 60k than I would have liked to see. I can't imagine what it would look like with a 100k change interval.

And as someone else mentioned, the coolant is 5 years or 150,000 miles, which ever comes first. Your car should be getting ready for it's second coolant flush/fill.
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Old 04-11-2009, 11:38 AM   #16
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Default Re: Fluid Change and New Filter for Tranny or Just Fluid Flush?

I changed my fluid at approx 100k. My owners manual calls for no changes under normal usage, but like everyone else I take that with a grain of salt. The car is driven by my wife, she is a very conservative driver and the car spends a lot of the time on the highway with the torque converter locked. So it does fall under the category of "normal usage". As far as the condition of the fluid, it was a little darker than new fluid, but still smelled/felt like ATF. I cleaned the pan and put a new filter in. I will probably do the job again at 150k if we still have the car.

IMHO also there is no need to get a new gasket when dropping the pan if you are careful about it. I re-used the OEM and it worked fine. It should not leak if you clean it, clean the mounting surface on the tranny and ensure that it has no nicks or cracks in it (if it does, get a new gasket).

I am not a big fan of the pressurized fluid flush. If you are trying to clean the tranny there are better ways to do it. Drop the pan, new filter and add some Auto-RX. Then change again at whatever interval they recommend. Pressurized flushes on an older vehicle seem to open up an avenue for failures.
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Old 04-11-2009, 10:46 PM   #17
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Default Re: Fluid Change and New Filter for Tranny or Just Fluid Flush?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcollins View Post
I changed my fluid at approx 100k. My owners manual calls for no changes under normal usage, but like everyone else I take that with a grain of salt. The car is driven by my wife, she is a very conservative driver and the car spends a lot of the time on the highway with the torque converter locked. So it does fall under the category of "normal usage". As far as the condition of the fluid, it was a little darker than new fluid, but still smelled/felt like ATF. I cleaned the pan and put a new filter in. I will probably do the job again at 150k if we still have the car.

IMHO also there is no need to get a new gasket when dropping the pan if you are careful about it. I re-used the OEM and it worked fine. It should not leak if you clean it, clean the mounting surface on the tranny and ensure that it has no nicks or cracks in it (if it does, get a new gasket).

I am not a big fan of the pressurized fluid flush. If you are trying to clean the tranny there are better ways to do it. Drop the pan, new filter and add some Auto-RX. Then change again at whatever interval they recommend. Pressurized flushes on an older vehicle seem to open up an avenue for failures.
What tends to happen is that people wait too long and after the trans is worn, they take it in to get the service done. I have seen the clutches get "washed" after a flush. Trans fluid has a lot of detergents in it. When the new fluid goes into a trans that is way past due, it loosens what little clutch material is left on the internal clutches and bingo, trans slips or won't go into gear.
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Old 04-12-2009, 02:00 AM   #18
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Default Re: Fluid Change and New Filter for Tranny or Just Fluid Flush?

Yup, nothing like flushing out black transmission fluid then your car essentially becomes a 3000lb paperweight amirite?

that said, after the recent Dex-Cool scandals (even though as I said before it didn't affect Saturns, but it did effect V6's on several GM products) I tend to disbelieve the 150k mile/5yr thing. I'd personally flush the coolant every 50k-60k miles or 3 years.

also, some of the most expensive things to repair on a vehicle would be:

1) transmission
2) master cylinder (non ABS)
3) engine

this one time when I went to car-x, they had one guy come in to get a quote on a master cylinder for his '91 chevy euro. cost $3k for the part alone. needless to say it's probably sitting in the junkyard or a u-pull-n-pay lot right now.

BTW, first time I ever changed the transmission fluid, the fluid wasn't black and it was flushed and cleaned. the car is still running fine (tranny wise) to this day.
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