The correct automatic transmission fluid for all Nova and Prizm cars is Dexron® II. There are no acceptable substitutes; internal damage may result if other fluids are used.
FLUID LEVEL CHECK
See Figures 1 and 2
Check the automatic transmission fluid level at least every 5,000 miles (more often if possible). The dipstick is in the engine compartment between the battery and the distributor.
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.
- Park the car on a level surface with the engine idling. Shift the transmission into Neutral and set the parking brake.
- Remove the dipstick, wipe it clean and reinsert it firmly. Be sure that it has been pushed all the way in. Remove the dipstick and check the fluid level while holding it horizontally. With the engine running, the fluid level should be between the notches in the HOT range on the dipstick.
- If the fluid level is below the second notch, add Dexron® II automatic transmission fluid through the dipstick tube. This is easily done with the aid of a long-necked 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 level from one notch to the other.
DRAIN AND REFILL
The automatic transmission fluid should be changed at least every 30,000 miles. If the car is normally used in severe service, such as stop-and-go driving, trailer towing or the like, the interval should be halved. The fluid should be hot before it is drained; a 20 minute drive will accomplish this.
The automatic transmission has a drain plug so that if you're in a hurry, you can simply remove the plug, drain the fluid, replace the plug, and then refill the transaxle. Although this method is fine, a slightly longer procedure may be more effective on Novas and is required for Prizms.
- Remove the plug and drain the fluid. When the fluid stops coming out of the drain hole, loosen the pan retaining screws until the pan can be pulled down at one corner. If the pan is stuck, tap the edges lightly with a plastic mallet to loosen it; don't pry it or wedge a screwdriver into the seam. Lower the corner of the pan and allow the remaining fluid to drain out.
- After the pan has drained completely, remove the pan retaining screws and then remove the pan and gasket.
- Clean the pan thoroughly and allow it to air dry. If you wipe it out with a rag you run the risk of leaving bits of lint in the pan which will clog the tiny hydraulic passages in the transaxle.
- With the pan removed on Prizm vehicles, the transmission filter is visible. The filter should be changed any time the transmission oil is drained. Remove the three bolts holding the filter and remove the filter.
- Clean the mating surfaces for the oil pan and the filter; make sure all traces of the old gasket material is removed.
- On Prizms, install the new filter. Install the three bolts in their correct locations and tighten only to 89 inch lbs.
- Install the pan using a new gasket.
- Install the drain plug.
- It is a good idea to measure the amount of fluid drained from the transaxle to determine the correct amount of fresh fluid to the be added. This is because some parts of the transaxle may not drain completely.
Do not overfill the transaxle. The automatic transaxle and the differential are separate units.
- With the engine off, add new Dexron® II fluid through the dipstick tube. The refill capacity is 2.4 quarts.
- Start the engine and shift the gear selector into all positions from P through L, allowing each gear to engage momentarily. Shift into P. DO NOT race the engine.
- With the engine idling, check the fluid level. Add fluid up to the COOL level on the dipstick.
Please dispose of used oil properly. Do not throw it in the trash or pour it on the ground. Take it to your dealer or local service station for recycling.