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HOW TO: Change Transmission Fluid


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Old 11-09-2009, 11:44 AM   #1
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DISCLAIMER: I am just sharing my experience in doing this How To, I am not telling you to do it this way. Anything you do to your own vehicle is at your own risk and I am not to blame for something you screw up.

I changed out my transmission fluid in my truck and decided to share in the experience. What I did will be applicable to an 05 Silverado 1500, should be applicable to any 4L60E, and the principles of which should be a good basis for any tranny fluid change.

The subject truck is a 2005 Silverado 1500 with the 4L60E automatic transmission mated to a 5.3L V8.


Your transmission fluid should be changed, according to Haynes and Chilton, every 30,000 miles OR 30 months, whichever comes first. This is not a solid figure though as it is dependent on how much or little abuse you place on your truck. A lot of towing, for example, will shorten the life of the fluid as it is placing more strain on the transmission, and therefore more heat, than just everyday, unloaded driving.

I like to start by taking out the dipstick which is located on the passenger side of the subject vehicle's engine, near the firewall.


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Old 11-09-2009, 11:50 AM   #2
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With the dipstick out you can check the level, color, and smell of the transmission fluid. Transmission fluid, in general, should be a bright red color. Any fluid that is dark red, almost brown in color, and/or smells burnt should definitely be changed.

Next, jack up the vehicle and place on jack stands. DO NOT CLIMB UNDER A VEHICLE THAT IS SUPPORT BY A JACK ONLY OR ONE THAT IS SUPPORT BY JACK STANDS ON UNSTABLE OR LEVEL GROUND. Climb underneath and locate the transmission pan. A lot of transmission pans, both on 4L60Es and others, have drain plugs, but not all. This is true throughout the 4L60E family...



...as you can see, mine has no drain plug. If your pan is like that, it is a simple enough task of tapping out a hole and adding one if you so choose. I didn't think about it ahead of time, so I did not do so. As a result, that will not be covered during this How To.

If your pan has a drain plug, position the drain pan underneath and remove the plug until the fluid has stopped free flowing and is just dripping.

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Old 11-09-2009, 11:57 AM   #3
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If your pan is like mine and does not have a drain plug, then you will have to start removing the pan to get the fluid out and regardless of which method you go, the pan will have to come off in the end anyway.

On the subject vehicle you will have to take off some interference items before removing the pan. First, on the passenger's side, you must take off the heat shield between the transmission and the catalytic converter. This is done so, by removing the two bolts with a 10mm socket. (sorry for the dark pic)


Second, on the driver's side, you will have to remove the shift linkage that is blocking access. This is done by removing the shift cable end from the ball stud...


...then removing the bracket from the transmission...


...which is done so by removing the two screws on top of the bracket with a T40 torx bit.

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Old 11-09-2009, 12:02 PM   #4
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If you are removing the pan in order to drain the fluid, like I had to, pick a spot you want it to drain from and remove a few of the bolts. From there, work your way out from that spot one bolt at a time in both directions for the preferred drain point. You will need to just loosen up the bolts a little at a time while slowly removing a bolt here or there near the previous bolts you have removed. As you do this, one side of the pan will begin to drop allowing fluid to drain. Ensure that you have your drain pan ready for this. You can also, you a flat-head screwdriver to pop the pan loose from the transmission if it does not want to unseat itself. If you do so: Ensure that you do not gouge the seating surface.



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Old 11-09-2009, 12:11 PM   #5
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Once you get the pan loose enough that you can remove it, do so, CAREFULLY. Regardless if you drained it using a plug or by the above method, there will still be some fluid left in the pan...more so with the above method than if you used a drain plug.

After you have it removed from the trans...


...remove the gasket, ensureing that you get all of it off the pan and the seating surface on the transmission. Then inspect the magnet if your pan has one.


The purpose of the magnet is to catch any metal deposits that are in your fluid from normal wear on the metal internals of the transmission. You should expect to see some greyish sludge on the magnet...this is just small metal dust mixed with fluid stuck to the magnet. What you don't want to see is larger metal filings or pieces of metal. If you see that, you have bigger problems than just a needed fluid change.

Clean the magnet and the pan.

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Old 11-09-2009, 12:18 PM   #6
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Remove the old filter from the transmission by firmly pulling straight down as central to the neck of the filter as possible.


There is a seal that goes around the neck of the filter that more than likely will not come out with the filter. Haynes and Chilton both recommend this be replaced and the new filter should come with a new seal, but, as I found out, that is sometimes easier said than done.


If you inspect the seal and deem it to be okay for reuse and it will not easily come out of the transmission, you can feel free to leave it in there instead of replacing it. The reason for this, is someone, who is not carefull, can easily scratch/damage the aluminum valve body inside the transmission. I had some issues getting mine out but had no choice but to change it because the rubber was messed up. By the time I was done, it looked like this...

...which is kind of pinched on one side.

I found that while putting in the new seal...

...it is easier to remove it from the filter and put it in by itself.

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Old 11-09-2009, 12:23 PM   #7
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Then install the new filter, pushing firmly.


Wipe down the gasket seating surface on both the tranny and the pan ensureing they are clean and free of dirt or traces of the old seal. You can use a little dab of grease here or there to help hold the seal onto the pan.


Push a few of the bolts through the holes in both the pan and the gasket. The gasket holes are tight enough that they will hold the bolts in place. Line the pan up with the transmission and finger tighten all the screws ensuring that you are going through the gasket holes. Once all the all the screws are in by hand, you can start using your socket and ratchet. Work your way back and forth around the pan, tightening just a little as you go. You want to do it this way to keep from getting to tight on one side while barely being threaded on another which can cause the gasket to become pinched and/or damaged.

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Old 11-09-2009, 12:31 PM   #8
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Once all bolts are evenly and lightly snugged into position, you will want to torque them to 97 inch pounds. This is not very tight, so don't just strong arm them and think you are good. Over tightening can cause damage to the seal and leaking.

Reinstall the heat shield and shift linkage in the reverse order you removed them.

Let the vehicle down off the jack and add 4 quarts of Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) via the filler tube you pulled the dipstick from earlier. My choice was Royal Purple.


This is not the total amount that you will be adding, just the start. After adding the 4 quarts, with the truck in park and the parking brake on, start the engine. Hold the throttle at a moderately fast idea for a moment to allow the fluid to begin cycling through through the transmission, but do not gun it or over race the engine. Once you have done this for a moment, cycle the transmission slowly through all gears a few times, then back to park. Once in park, allow the engine to idea for a few minutes while checking for any leaks.

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Old 11-09-2009, 12:37 PM   #9
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After you are sure that you have no leaks, check the fluid level (which will be low) and add fluid as necessary to raise the level to where you want it (in the cross marked "hot" position on the dipstick). Be care to not overfill as this can cause foaming and an ill performing transmission. In all you will use right around 5 quarts total. Over the next few trips, check to ensure you have not developed any leaks. If you do, check the torque of the transmission pan bolts and the drain plug (if you have one.) If those are good, you may want to wipe away all leak residue and keep an eye on it to see if you are leaking from around your gasket. If you are, than you are possibly to tight and you might need to drop the pan and start all over from that step on, ensuring that you do not damage the gasket the next go-round.

I hope that some find this informitive and helpful, but remember my disclaimer at the top of the page.

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Old 11-09-2009, 01:27 PM   #10
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Awesome info! Great job!

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Old 11-09-2009, 01:33 PM   #11
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nice! will make my life easier wheni put in a regular style pan instead of the deep sump like we have in the trucks!

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Old 11-09-2009, 01:43 PM   #12
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Yeah, I wasn't sure what style pan I had on mine when the guy at Autozone asked me if I wanted the filter for the shallow or deep pan, but I was pretty sure it was the shallow....which it was luckily.

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Old 11-09-2009, 01:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Onimun View Post
Awesome info! Great job!
Thanks.

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Old 11-09-2009, 08:16 PM   #14
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Nicely done, Joker. Great info, coupled with good pictures, this one should help a lot of people.

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Old 11-09-2009, 09:15 PM   #15
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Appreciate the compliment. I've got a few more HOW TOs in the works as soon as I buy the rest of the parts.

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Old 11-09-2009, 09:17 PM   #16
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awesomeness.

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Old 11-09-2009, 09:18 PM   #17
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Glad I can contribute.

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Old 12-28-2009, 11:58 AM   #18
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Good stuff here. I wanted to check this again before I went ahead and did It myself.

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