GM Malibu/Cutlass 1997-2000

Automatic Transaxle

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FLUID RECOMMENDATIONS



When adding or refilling fluid to the transaxle use Dexron®III oil or equivalent.

LEVEL CHECK



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:



In high ambient temperatures above 90°F (32°C).
 
At sustained high speeds.
 
In heavy city traffic during hot weather.
 
As a towing vehicle.
 
In commercial service (taxi or police use).
 
If the vehicle has been operated under these conditions, shut the engine OFF and allow the vehicle to cool for 30 minutes.
 


NOTE
The transaxle in your vehicle requires special procedures for checking and adding automatic transmission fluid.



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Fig. Location of the fluid level screw and the fill/vent cap needed to check the fluid for the 4T40E automatic transaxle



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Fig. The transaxle vent is also the transaxle fill cap



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Fig. The vent cap is obstructed by the intake duct on the 3.1L engine. You will probably need to the remove the air intake duct

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
  2.  
  3. Raise and safely support the vehicle.
  4.  
  5. Place a container under the fluid level screw.
  6.  



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Fig. The fluid level screw (see arrow) is located above the transaxle pan on the passenger side of the vehicle

  1. Remove the fluid level screw.
  2.  
  3. Ensure the oil level is at the bottom of the level screw.
  4.  


NOTE
Because the transaxle operates correctly over a range of fluid levels, the fluid may or may not drain out of the screw hole after removing the screw. If the fluid drains through the screw hole the transaxle may have been overfilled. When the fluid stops draining the fluid level is correct, and you may install the level screw. If the fluid does not drain through the screw hole, the transaxle may have been low. Add fluid at the vent cap location in 1 pint ( 1 / 2 liter) increments until the oil level is at the bottom of the oil level hole. Use a long necked funnel to avoid spillage.

  1. Install the oil level screw and tighten to 124 inch lbs. (14 Nm).
  2.  
  3. Lower the vehicle.
  4.  
  5. Connect the negative battery cable.
  6.  

PAN & FILTER SERVICE



The fluid should be changed according to the schedule in the Maintenance Interval chart at the end of this section. If the car is normally used in severe service, such as stop and start driving, trailer towing, or the like, the interval should be halved. If the car is driven under especially nasty conditions, such as in heavy city traffic where the temperature normally reaches 90°F (32°C), or in very hilly or mountainous areas, or in police, taxi, or delivery service, the fluid should be changed every 15,000 miles (24,000 km.).



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Fig. The transaxle fluid pan is retained by sixteen bolts



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Fig. Remove the pan bolts, which usually requires a 13mm socket or wrench, except for . . .



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Fig. . . . one bolt on each of the four corners of the pan



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Fig. Loosen the four bolts, but DO NOT remove them. Carefully break one corner of the pan loose until fluid begins to flow out



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Fig. When the fluid stops flowing out of the one corner, break the other bolts loose until the fluid is flowing from the entire pan



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Fig. Slowly lower the bolts when the fluid stops flowing, carefully remove one corner's bolt and try to drain any remaining fluid out, then remove the remaining three bolts and remove the pan



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Fig. Remove the filter by pulling down gently to unseat it from the transaxle



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Fig. Be sure to remove the seal on the filter fluid port, it most likely will stay in the transaxle



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Fig. Remove the gasket from the pan and discard it



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Fig. When removing the transaxle pan and filter, always replace the gasket and O-ring with a new one before installation



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Fig. Make sure the replacement gasket matches exactly to the pan and transaxle body



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Fig. Thoroughly clean the fluid pan and . . .



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Fig. . . . gasket mating surfaces of the pan and the transaxle before reinstalling the pan

The fluid must be warm before it is drained; a 20 minute drive should accomplish this.

  1. To drain the automatic transaxle fluid, the fluid pan must be removed. Raise and safely support the vehicle. Place a drain pan underneath the transaxle pan, then remove the pan attaching bolts except on the four corners of the pan.
  2.  
  3. Loosen the four attaching bolts on the corners approximately four turns each, but do not remove them.
  4.  
  5. Very carefully pry the pan loose on one corner. You can use a small prybar for this if you work CAREFULLY. Do not distort the pan flange, or score the mating surface of the transaxle case. You'll be very sorry later if you do. As the pan is pried loose, all of the fluid is going to come pouring out.
  6.  
  7. Carefully break the other corners loose until fluid is flowing steadily from the entire pan.
  8.  
  9. After the fluid is down flowing, remove one corner bolt and attempt to drain any remaining fluid. Remove the remaining bolts and remove the pan and gasket. Throw away the gasket.
  10.  
  11. Clean the pan with solvent and allow it to air dry. If you use a rag to wipe out the pan, you risk leaving bits of lint behind, which will clog the dinky hydraulic passages in the transaxle.
  12.  
  13. Remove and discard the filter and the O-ring seal.
  14.  

To install:

  1. Install a new filter and O-ring, locating the filter against the dipstick stop.
  2.  
  3. Position a new gasket on the pan, then install the pan. Tighten the bolts evenly and in rotation to 8 ft. lbs. (11 Nm.). Do not overtighten.
  4.  
  5. Add approximately 4 qts. (3.8 L) of DEXRON®III or IIE automatic transmission fluid to the transaxle through the vent cap. You will need a long necked funnel, or a funnel and tube to do this.
  6.  
  7. With the transaxle in P , put on the parking brake, block the front wheels, start the engine and let it idle. DO NOT RACE THE ENGINE. DO NOT MOVE THE LEVER THROUGH ITS RANGES.
  8.  
  9. Check the fluid level. If it's OK, take the car out for a short drive, park on a level surface, and check the level again, as outlined earlier in this section. Add more fluid if necessary. Be careful not to overfill, which will cause foaming and fluid loss.
  10.  


NOTE
If the drained fluid is discolored (brown or black), thick, or smells burnt, serious transmission troubles, probably due to overheating, should be suspected. Your car's transaxle should be inspected by a reliable transmission specialist to determine the problem.

 
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