GM Camaro 1967-1981 Repair Guide

Fluid Level Checks

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ENGINE OIL



See Figure 1

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Fig. Fig. 1: Look for the API oil identification label when choosing your engine oil

Every time you stop for fuel, check the engine oil as follows:

  1. Make sure the car is parked on level ground.
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  3. When checking the oil level it is best for the engine to be at normal operating temperature, although checking the oil immediately after stopping will lead to a false reading. Wait a few minutes after turning off the engine to allow the oil to drain back into the crankcase.
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  5. Open the hood and locate the dipstick which will be on either the right or left side of the engine, depending upon your particular engine. Pull the dipstick from its tube, wipe it clean, then reinsert it.
  6.  
  7. Pull the dipstick out again and, holding it horizontally, read the oil level. The oil should be between the "FULL" and "ADD" marks on the dipstick. If the oil is below the "ADD" mark, add oil of the proper viscosity through the capped opening in the top of the cylinder head cover. See the "Oil and Fuel Recommendations" chart in this section for the proper viscosity and rating of oil to use.
  8.  
  9. Reinsert the dipstick and check the oil level again after adding any oil. Be careful not to overfill the crankcase. Approximately one quart of oil will raise the level from the "ADD" mark to the "FULL" mark. Excess oil will generally be consumed at an accelerated rate.
  10.  

TRANSMISSION



Manual

The oil in the manual transmission should be checked at least every 6,000 miles for 1967-74 models or every 7,500 miles for all 1975 and later models.

  1. With the car parked on a level surface, remove the filler plug from the side of the transmission housing.
  2.  
  3. If the lubricant begins to trickle out of the hole, there is enough and you need not go any further. Otherwise, carefully insert your finger (watch out for sharp threads) and check to see if the oil is up to the edge of the hole.
  4.  
  5. If not, add oil through the hole until the level is at the edge of the hole. Most gear lubricants come in a plastic squeeze bottle with a nozzle making additions simple. You can also use a common kitchen baster. Use only standard GL-5 hypoid-type gear oil-SAE 80W or SAE 80W/90.
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  7. Install and securely tighten the filler plug, run the engine and check for leaks.
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Automatic

See Figures 2, 3, 4 and 5

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Fig. Fig. 2: The markings on the automatic transmission dipstick tell you whether the transmission is in need of additional fluid when the engine is cool or hot-the proper hot level is within the shaded area



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Fig. Fig. 3: The Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) dipstick is usually located at the right side (passenger's side), rear of the engine (near the firewall)



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Fig. Fig. 4: The ATF level should fall within the crosshatched section (arrow) of the dipstick-if the level falls below this marking, fill the transmission until it is at the correct level



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Fig. Fig. 5: When filling an automatic transmission, using a funnel greatly helps avoid messy ATF spills

Check the automatic transmission fluid level at least every 6,000 miles (7,500 miles for 1975 and later models). The dipstick can be found in the rear of the engine compartment. The fluid level should be checked only when the transmission is hot (normal operating temperature). The transmission is considered hot after about 20 miles of highway driving.

  1. Park the car on a level surface with the engine idling. Shift the transmission into Neutral and set the parking brake.
  2.  
  3. Remove the dipstick, wipe it clean and then reinsert it firmly. Be sure that it has been pushed all the way in. Remove the dipstick again and check the fluid level while holding it horizontally. With the engine running, the fluid level should be between the second notch and the "FULL HOT" line. If the fluid must be checked when it is cool, the level should be between the first and second notches.
  4.  
  5. If the fluid level is below the second notch (engine hot) or the first notch (engine cold), add DEXRON® (1967-75) or DEXRON® II (1976 and later) automatic transmission fluid through the dipstick tube. This is easily done with the aid of a funnel. Check the level often as you are filling the transmission. Be extremely careful not to overfill it. Overfilling will cause slippage, seal damage and overheating. Approximately one pint of ATF will raise the fluid level from one notch/line to the other.
  6.  

Always use DEXRON® or DEXRON® II ATF. The use of ATF Type F or any other fluid will cause severe damage to the transmission.

The fluid on the dipstick should always be a bright red color. If it is discolored (brown or black), or smells burnt, serious transmission troubles, probably due to overheating, should be suspected. The transmission should be inspected by a qualified technician to locate the cause of the burnt fluid.

BRAKE MASTER CYLINDER



See Figures 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10

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Fig. Fig. 6: The brake fluid level in the master cylinder reservoir should be maintained to within 1/4 in. of the top edge



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Fig. Fig. 7: To check the brake fluid level in the master cylinder, remove the hold-down bail wire(s) from the reservoir lid



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Fig. Fig. 8: It may be necessary to use a small prytool, because the bail wires can be tight



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Fig. Fig. 9: Lift the lid off the master cylinder reservoir ...



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Fig. Fig. 10: ... and add brake fluid if the level is not within 1/4 in. from the top edge of the reservoir-note the level shown (arrow) is low


WARNING
Clean, high quality brake fluid is essential to the safe and proper operation of the brake system. You should always buy the highest quality brake fluid that is available. If the brake fluid becomes contaminated, drain and flush the system, then refill the master cylinder with new fluid. Never reuse any brake fluid. Any brake fluid that is removed from the system should be discarded.

The brake master cylinder is located under the hood, in the left rear section of the engine compartment. It is divided into two sections (reservoirs) and the fluid must be kept within 1 / 4 in.of the top edge of both reservoirs. The level should be checked at least every 6,000 miles (7,500 miles for 1975 and later models).

Any sudden decrease in the level of fluid indicates a possible leak in the system and should be checked out immediately.

To check the fluid level, simply pry off the retaining bar and then lift off the top cover of the master cylinder. When making additions of brake fluid, use only fresh, uncontaminated brake fluid which meets or exceeds DOT 3 standards. Be careful not to spill any brake fluid on painted surfaces, as it eats paint. Do not allow the brake fluid container or the master cylinder reservoir to remain open any longer than necessary; brake fluid absorbs moisture from the air, reducing its effectiveness and causing corrosion in the lines.

COOLANT



See Figure 11

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Fig. Fig. 11: Coolant protection can be checked with a simple, float-type tester

It's a good idea to check the coolant level every time that you stop for fuel. If the engine is hot, let it cool for a few minutes and then check the level following the procedure given earlier in this section.

Check the freezing protection rating at least once a year, preferably just before the winter sets in. This can be done with an antifreeze tester (most service stations will have one on hand and will probably check it for you, if not, they are available at an auto parts store). Maintain a protection rating of at least -20ºF (-29ºC) to prevent engine damage as a result of freezing and to assure the proper engine operating temperature.

REAR AXLE



See Figures 12 through 18

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Fig. Fig. 12: The rear differential filler plug is located on the right-hand side of the case, as shown



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Fig. Fig. 13: To drain the differential fluid, remove all mounting bolts (except for the top most bolt (arrow), which should only be loosened) ...



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Fig. Fig. 14: ... then use a small prytool to carefully break the gasket seal and allow the oil to drain into a catch pan



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Fig. Fig. 15: Remove the last cover bolt and remove the cover from the differential housing



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Fig. Fig. 16: Cover the differential gears with a shop rag and remove all traces of old gasket material with a scraper



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Fig. Fig. 17: Remove the differential fill plug from the side of the differential case



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Fig. Fig. 18: Install the differential cover with a new gasket, fill the differential, then install and tighten the fill plug securely

The oil in the differential should be checked at least every 6,000 miles (7,500 miles for 1975 and later models).

  1. With the car on a level surface, remove the filler plug from the front side of the differential.
  2.  
  3. If the oil begins to trickle out of the hole, there is enough. Othewise, carefully insert your finger (watch out for sharp threads) into the hole and check that the oil is up to the bottom edge of the filler hole.
  4.  
  5. If not, add oil through the hole until the level is at the edge of hole. Most gear oils come in a plastic squeeze bottle with a nozzle; making additions is simple. You can also use a common kitchen baster. Use only standard GL-5 hypoid-type gear oil-SAE 80W or SAE 80W/90.
  6.  

On all models equipped with the positraction/limited slip rear axle, GM recommends that you use only the special lubricant which is available at your local Chevrolet parts department.

POWER STEERING RESERVOIR



See Figures 19 through 26

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Fig. Fig. 19: Depending on the temperature of the power steering fluid, the fluid level should fall between the hot mark and the cold mark-if the level is ever below the cold mark, add fluid



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Fig. Fig. 20: On earlier Camaro models, the power steering pump is located on the left-hand side of the engine, beneath the alternator



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Fig. Fig. 21: On later models, the alternator was moved to the other side of the engine, creating easier access to the PS pump-the PS fluid dipstick is attached to the cap



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Fig. Fig. 22: The earlier dipstick (shown) is shorter than the newer dipstick, however ...



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Fig. Fig. 23: ... the markings are the same for both types-with the engine warmed up, add fluid until the level is at the FULL HOT mark



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Fig. Fig. 24: Fill the power steering pump with clean, fresh power steering fluid or ATF, depending on the specific model year of your vehicle (refer to the text)



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Fig. Fig. 25: Using a funnel will help avoid messy spills ...



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Fig. Fig. 26: ... especially on early models when the alternator obstructs access to the power steering pump

Power steering fluid level should be checked at least once every 6,000 miles (7,500 miles for 1975 and later models). To prevent possible overfilling, check the fluid level only when the fluid has warmed to operating temperatures and the wheels are turned straight ahead. If the level is low, fill the pump reservoir with DEXRON® Automatic Transmission Fluid required by the transmission on 1976 and earlier cars. 1977-81 cars require GM power steering fluid, until the fluid level measures "full" on the reservoir dipstick. Low fluid level usually produces a moaning sound as the wheels are turned (especially when standing still or parking) and increases steering wheel effort.

 
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