GM Chevy Mid-Size Cars 1964-1988 Repair Guide

Automatic Transmission



See Figures 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Check the automatic transmission fluid level at least every 6,000 miles for 1964-74 vehicles or every 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.
  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 upper notch and the FULL HOT line. If the fluid must be checked when it is cool, the level should be between the lower 2 notches.
  5. If the fluid level is low add DEXRON®II automatic transmission fluid. The fluid must be added through the transmission dipstick tube, which is easily accomplished using a funnel. Add fluid gradually, checking the level often as you are filling the transmission. Be extremely careful not to overfill the transmission, as this will cause slippage, seal damage and overheating. Approximately one pint of ATF will raise the fluid level from one notch/line to the other.

Always use 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.

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Fig. Fig. 1: Like engine oil, the automatic transmission fluid level is checked using a dipstick

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Fig. Fig. 2: Check the level on the dipstick after it has been wiped, re-inserted and withdrawn

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Fig. Fig. 3: Automatic transmission dipstick marks; the proper level for a hot transmission is within the shaded area

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Fig. Fig. 4: Automatic transmission fluid is added through the dipstick guide tube

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Fig. Fig. 5: If a standard funnel is hard to fit in the tube, try a funnel with a flexible neck


The service procedures for automatic transmission fluid drain and refill, filter change and band adjustment are all detailed in Drive Train of this guide.