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Thread: Auto TransLevel check

  1. #1
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    Auto TransLevel check

    I drove my car on the freeway and far enough and back and the fluid was very hot to the touch and the level on the dipstick wasn't quite up to the FULL HOT mark. Should I bring it up to the FULL mark, or is it safe enough to operate the car until I'll be able to add the fluid after a day or so?

    Larry

  2. #2
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Adachi View Post
    I drove my car on the freeway and far enough and back and the fluid was very hot to the touch and the level on the dipstick wasn't quite up to the FULL HOT mark. Should I bring it up to the FULL mark, or is it safe enough to operate the car until I'll be able to add the fluid after a day or so?

    Larry
    So long as it's not over or under, you're ok. Keep in mind the dipstick level will change depending on whether the fluid is hot or cold - and also whether the trans is in Park/Neutral or Drive. If memory serves, you should check the level with the transmission warmed up and in Drive. (See your owner's manual to be sure.) You need a helper to do this safely, of course. One guy sits in the car with the transmission in gear and his foot on the brake; the other checks the level. You can do this by yourself if you are sure - I mean sure - the parking brake is in perfect working order and will hold the car when it's in gear for the minute or so it takes to check the level. But not recommended....

    FYI: The TH350 in your car is one of GM's best-ever units and unless abused or not serviced every now and again will last as long as the car.
    Last edited by Eric; 03-17-2009 at 08:59 PM.

  3. #3
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    When I used to check the trans level on my parents car, I would get it warmed up. Park it. Shift it in to drive, then reverse, then neutral. Apply parking brake and then check the level.

  4. #4
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Adachi View Post
    I drove my car on the freeway and far enough and back and the fluid was very hot to the touch and the level on the dipstick wasn't quite up to the FULL HOT mark. Should I bring it up to the FULL mark, or is it safe enough to operate the car until I'll be able to add the fluid after a day or so?

    Larry

    It does NOT have to be up to the "full" mark. There should be a "min" mark too. And even if way too low (well below min) the only thing I have ever noticed is the tranny slipping when cold. While it might not be a good idea to let it get that low, I never heard of it causing a permanent tranny problem. What I have heard of is the tranny fluid getting so low that the car will not move. But after adding the tranny fluid all was fine again.

    Being low on tranny fluid is not as serious as being low on engine oil because there will be obvious symptoms with low tranny fluid before any damage is done (at least in most cases).

    But the tranny fluid will raise when hot. Normally it is checked after a 20 mile drive. With the GM tranny you have, you should check the level in PARK. Some other makes want it checked in neutral.

    But to be 100% sure, read your owner's manual. If you don't have it, order one or see if it's covered in a GM Chilton guide, maintenance section (IIRC, it is).

    But if you're low on tranny fluid, there is a reason. There must be a leak somewhere. Trannys don't "eat" the fluid like engines eat engine oil.

    -Don- SSF, CA

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    Eric,

    As recommended in several manuals, I put it in Park, then check the dipstick with engine running. I did read once where it said to put it in DRIVE while checking.

    I would like to hear pro and con on this issue.

    Larry

  6. #6
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Adachi View Post
    Eric,

    As recommended in several manuals, I put it in Park, then check the dipstick with engine running. I did read once where it said to put it in DRIVE while checking.

    I would like to hear pro and con on this issue.

    Larry
    I think they mean put it in drive with engine idling (with foot on brake) and then back to park or neutral. Some owner's manuals say shift through all the gears several times before checking the auto tranny fluid level, but I never noticed any difference when I did or did not.

    -Don- SF, CA

  7. #7
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    To answer my post on whether to put it in DRIVE or PARK, I've come to the conclusion that: If you're all alone to do the job, use PARK but if you have a helper, then use DRIVE. What da ya think?

    Larry

  8. #8
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Adachi View Post
    To answer my post on whether to put it in DRIVE or PARK, I've come to the conclusion that: If you're all alone to do the job, use PARK but if you have a helper, then use DRIVE. What da ya think?Larry
    I think NONE will tell you to LEAVE it in drive. Perhaps shift to drive and back to park (or perhaps neutral in Chrysler vehicles).

    -Don-

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    I think NONE will tell you to LEAVE it in drive. Perhaps shift to drive and back to park (or perhaps neutral in Chrysler vehicles).

    -Don-

    I don't have my owner's manual with me any more for my Chevy but it does say on the dipstick to check the level on a hot engine in PARK.

    Larry

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