Transmission Fluid Change Gone Wrong

Discussion in 'General Chevy & GM Tech Questions' started by Fraterado1855, Jun 17, 2012.

  1. Fraterado1855

    Fraterado1855 New Member


    Due to delayed shifts I decided to spend some time checking/working on my transmission/differentials. I have had the truck for some time and I do not know when these were done last. Hoping that serious damage had not already been done, I busted out my Haynes and some how-to articles and decided the first step would be flushing/changing the fluid. Picked up the fluid and my deep filter and went to work.

    To start, my drain plug was stripped and fused to the pan; not even PB blaster could help me (strange). I was able to at first with moderate success remove some of the pan bolts without spilling transmission fluid everywhere. There were a few spots where other brackets/interfaces got in the way, so I removed what I could. There was one bolt however in the corner closest to the shift linkage that was determined to be a royal PITA. Trying to get this out was at first challenging, but with enough adjustment, man grunting and hand soaked in transmission fluid, I was able to get it out. The mess was getting worse, but for all intensive purposes I was confident it was something the kitty liter would handle.

    I started to work to remove the pan as gingerly as possible, never having broken it open before I did not know what fragile components were being protected directly above it. It was clear that the forming of the pan was to make space for these components, as there was very little space to maneuver the pan around. I tilted it to spill as much of the fluid in to the drain as possible. Realizing the the shift linkage bracket was still in the way, and the only bolt I could feel was rusted like a piece of steel in the dead sea; I knew I was going to have to get creative.

    Using my new stanley super wonder bar, and continued to pry the bracket out of the way to gain clearance without damaging other transmission components. I worked to finagle the pan for the next <insert more time than I am willing to admit> with no success. It seems like the How-To suggests the pan is removed starting from the back end first, but this is not possible with the exhaust pipe that crosses over in the way. It can not be translated over any further because of the bracket/shift linkage, and virtually every movement contacts something above (ie what the pan is protecting). I retired for the evening a broken man at around 11PM, and proceeded to console my irritation with a 1lb burger; which worked to perfection.

    The way I see it, I only have a few choices:
    1. Drop the exhaust and try to move the pan without it in the way
    2. Cut the bracket with a dremmel tool (hope transmission fluid isn't too flammable)

    The bracket is rusted, so I figure I'll have to deal with that one later anyway; so cutting it doesn't bother me. Speak up to let me know if I am doing something wrong before I do something stupid. Thanks!

    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012
  2. dedmon27

    dedmon27 Rockstar 100 Posts

    On my 2003 4x4 i was able to gingerly pry the shift cable bracket out of the way.
  3. RallySTX

    RallySTX Member 100 Posts

    Don't feel bad yet, you just got started. Plenty of time later to feel like a boob when you get it all done and overfill it, and suddenly all the seal erupt in green pus! Just kidding, The trouble with trannys, they always force you to think, lying on your back, cold and uncomfortable, when the only thing that does enter your mind with regularity, is the unreasoning fear that you'll make a huge mess. That's normal for a newb, so you're right on course. Eventually you'll finally get the pan off and then you'll be in real trouble! Seriously, this is one of the most needed and yet most ignored maintenance issues owners face. Fact, it's gonna be messy, because you are working on your back, and you tried to do it without eliminating all obstacles before touching the bolts. Once you get the pipes out of the way, and that alone might require cutting, you would normally work from one corner of the pan, backwards down both sided, going back and forth until you could get the corner you started with loose enough to drain the fluid. There will still be about a pan full once you get it off, so it will be heavier than you expect, so be careful you don't dump it in your face. I like to use a floor jack with a big wooden plate to hold the pan, and lower it that way. Once you start pulling the pan, you should finish what you are doing in there as fast as you can so as to limit the dust and dirt that will get in there while the pan is off. People always say, what could get in there, it's under the truck? The answer is, you wiould be surprised to see the amount of dirt free floating in the air, let alone what could be blown up the driveway from the street by passing vehicles. Once the pan is off, change the filter, and inspect the valve body for obvious damage, repair, and get the cover back on again as fast as you can, to keep things clean. You should take a moment to inspect the debris in the pan, looking for any metal fragments or parts, a little clutch dust is normal. You can expect the fluid in the pan to look the worst as that is the lowest point in the reservoir, and where the oldest fluid is. Hopefully you will find nothing but a nasty filter, and nearly black fluid, and once you clean the pan, replace the filter, reinstall the pan, and hook the exhaust back up, all you will have to contend with, is a mangled shift linkage. Give us a yell if you need more encouragement, I can always be counted on to say the worste possible thing at just the right moment.
    Brian L.
  4. rileyjr16

    rileyjr16 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    I feel your pain. When I did mine, I wanted to remove the exhaust crossover so bad until I realized that the morons who had the truck before me cut the flange off and made it duals and it would require having to unbolt every brace from the exhaust pipe to the frame all the way to the rear of the truck. So now when I get time and money, I'll do the exhaust back the way it's supposed to be so that next time I ever have to take it off its easier by either:

    A) welding a stock like flange back on and running a single pipe back to a new muffler
    B) welding a Y pipe and using a clamp and some adhesive.

    Anyway it was about then that I called my brother and he came over and having done this 3 times on his truck, he did most of the grunt/pry work for me. I really want to just order a new pan with cooling fins so that it has a drain plug I can rely on.
  5. Fraterado1855

    Fraterado1855 New Member

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