GM Bonneville/Eighty Eight/LeSabre 1986-1999

Automatic Transaxle

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FLUID RECOMMENDATIONS



When adding fluid or refilling the transaxle, use Dexron®IIE or Dexron® III automatic transmission fluid. Use of other fluids could cause erratic shifting and transmission damage.

LEVEL CHECK



See Figures 1, 2 and 3

  1. Start the engine and drive the vehicle for a minimum of 15 miles (24 km).
  2.  

The automatic transaxle fluid level must be checked with the vehicle at normal operating temperature; 180-200°F (82-93°C). Temperature will greatly affect transaxle fluid level.

  1. Park the vehicle on a level surface.
  2.  
  3. Place the transaxle gear selector in P .
  4.  
  5. Apply the parking brake and block the drive wheels.
  6.  
  7. With the brakes applied, move the shift lever through all the gear ranges, ending in P .
  8.  

The fluid level must be checked with the engine running at slow idle, with the car level, and the fluid at least at room temperature. The correct fluid level cannot be read if you have just driven the car for a long time at high speed, city traffic in hot weather or if the car has been pulling a trailer. In these cases, wait at least 3 minutes for the fluid to cool down.

  1. Pull the dipstick, located at the rear end of the engine, out and wipe with a clean, lint-free rag.
  2.  
  3. Push the dipstick completely into the filler tube, then wait 3 seconds and pull the dipstick out again.
  4.  



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Fig. Fig. 1: After wiping the automatic transaxle dipstick clean, reinsert it fully into the tube

  1. Check both sides of the dipstick and read the lower level. The fluid level should be in the crosshatch area.
  2.  



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Fig. Fig. 2: Do NOT add fluid if the level is anywhere within the crosshatched area on the dipstick

The fluid level is acceptable if it is anywhere within the crosshatch area. The fluid level does not have to be at the top of the crosshatch area. DO NOT add fluid unless the level is below the crosshatch area.



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Fig. Fig. 3: If the fluid level is low, add only enough to reach the crosshatched area

  1. Inaccurate fluid level readings may result if the fluid is checked immediately after the vehicle has been operated under any or all of the following conditions:
    1. In high ambient temperatures above 90°F (12°C).
    2.  
    3. At sustained high speeds.
    4.  
    5. In heavy city traffic during hot weather.
    6.  
    7. As a towing vehicle.
    8.  
    9. In commercial service (taxi or police use).
    10.  

  2.  
  3. If the vehicle has been operated under these conditions, shut the engine OFF and allow the vehicle to cool for 3 minutes. After the cool-down period, restart the vehicle and continue from Step 2.
  4.  
  5. If it is determined that the fluid level is low, add only enough fluid to bring the level into the crosshatch area. It generally takes less than a pint. DO NOT overfill the transaxle! If the fluid level is within specifications, simply push the dipstick back into the filler tube completely.
  6.  
  7. After adding fluid, if necessary, recheck the level, making sure it is within the crosshatch area. Turn the engine OFF , then unblock the drive wheels.
  8.  

DRAIN, FILTER SERVICE & REFILL



See Figures 4 through 14

On these vehicles, a 10mm socket is needed to loosen and remove the automatic transaxle retaining bolts.

The car should be driven approximately 15 miles (24 km) to warm the transaxle fluid before the pan is removed.

The fluid should be drained while the transaxle is warm.


WARNING
Use only fluid labeled Dexron®III or IIE. Use of other fluids could cause erratic shifting and transaxle damage.

  1. Raise and safely support the vehicle with jackstands.
  2.  
  3. Place a suitable drain pan under the transaxle fluid pan.
  4.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 4: View of the automatic transaxle pan and retaining bolts - 1989 Bonneville shown

  1. Remove the fluid pan bolts/screws from the front and sides of the pan.
  2.  



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Fig. Fig. 5: After removing the necessary bolts, partially loosen the 2 side bolts (see arrows)

  1. Loosen the rear bolts/screws about four turns.
  2.  


WARNING
Be careful not to damage the mating surfaces of the oil pan and case. Any damage could result in fluid leaks.

  1. Lightly tap the pan with a rubber mallet or carefully pry the fluid pan loose and allow the fluid to drain.
  2.  



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Fig. Fig. 6: Tap or pry the pan loose, then allow the fluid to drain completely

If the transaxle fluid is dark or has a burnt smell, transaxle damage is indicated. Have the transaxle checked professionally.

  1. Remove the remaining bolts, the pan, and the gasket or RTV sealant. Discard the old gasket. Use a suitable gasket scraper to clean the gasket mating surfaces.
  2.  



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Fig. Fig. 7: After all of the fluid has drained, unfasten the remaining bolts and remove the fluid pan



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Fig. Fig. 8: Remove the pan magnet and inspect it for metal shavings or chips, which may indicate excessive wear



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Fig. Fig. 9: Carefully remove the gasket, then install a new one prior to installation

  1. For 1987-90 vehicles, inspect the fluid pan bolts, as shown in the accompanying figure, to see if they are in reusable condition.
  2.  



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Fig. Fig. 10: On 1987-90 vehicles, you must inspect the bolts and determine if they are reusable or not

  1. Remove the filter. It may be necessary to use a long flat-bladed tool to pry the filter neck out of the seal. Inspect the oil filter seal for damage or wear and replace if necessary. You may need to use special tools J 6215-B and J 21029 or equivalent to remove the seal.
  2.  



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Fig. Fig. 11: Removing the filter from the transaxle

  1. Clean the transaxle case and oil pan gasket surfaces with solvent and dry it thoroughly. Make sure all of the old gasket material is removed.
  2.  



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Fig. Fig. 12: Exploded view of the automatic transaxle pan and related components - 1991 vehicle shown



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Fig. Fig. 13: Automatic transaxle fluid pan, gasket and filter - 1997 vehicle shown

To install:
  1. Coat a new oil filter seal with a small amount of Transjel® or petroleum jelly, then install the new seal onto the filter.
  2.  
  3. Install the new transaxle filter and O-ring seal, locating the filter against the dipstick stop. Always replace the filter with a new one. Do not attempt to clean the old one!
  4.  
  5. Place a new transaxle fluid pan gasket in position in the pan.
  6.  
  7. Thoroughly clean and dry all bolts and bolt holes. Install the pan and tighten the bolts in a crisscross manner, starting from the middle and working outward. Tighten the bolts/screws to the following specifications:
    1. 1987-90 vehicles: 15 ft. lbs. (20 Nm).
    2.  
    3. 1991-99 vehicles: 12-13 ft. lbs. (16-17 Nm)
    4.  

  8.  
  9. Carefully lower the vehicle, then add the correct amount of Dexron®III, IIE, or equivalent, transmission fluid. Refer to the Capacities chart for fluid specifications.
  10.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 14: Use a long-necked funnel to add fluid through the automatic transaxle dipstick tube

  1. Follow the fluid check procedure earlier in this section.
  2.  
  3. Check the pan for leaks.
  4.  

 
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