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Old 05-08-2012, 07:53 PM
Bobbed06 Bobbed06 is offline
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Default How do I change the transmission fluid in a 5 Speed Manual Transmission

I need to change the fluid in my 104k mile 1999 Saturn SL with a 5 Speed Manual Transmission. The shifting is getting a tad notchy on shifting gears and I want to change the fluid anyways since its due.

I have never changed the fluid before and am hoping that some of you knowledgeable Saturn fans can tell me where the drain and fill plugs are and what is the best fluid to use for this application.

I have a tool that looks like a grease gun with a plunger that I use to fill the fluid in 4wd transfer cases that I can use to refill the transmission if you guys can show me where the drain and fill plugs are and tell me what fluid to use.
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Old 05-09-2012, 10:49 AM
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RjION RjION is offline
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Raise the car up pull the trans drain plug. The manual trans in the S-series uses DEXRON ATF yes it is red in color. Use the newest version on the shelf.

Instructions

1
Turn on the Saturn S-Series ignition. With the vehicle in park, run the engine for about 10 minutes to heat up the transmission fluid. Open the hood and put on your gloves to protect your hands. Check the transaxle fluid level with the dipstick to see if it's full.

2
Switch off the ignition to allow sufficient time for the fluid to cool down. You can only replace the fluid while it's warm or cold, not hot.

3 Jack up the car and put all four wheels on the jack stands. Make sure the car is level and there's enough room for you to comfortably work.

4 Insert the funnel into the dipstick opening, once the fluid has cooled sufficiently. Remove the air cleaner box. Although not necessary, for better access to the transaxle filter, take out the battery and battery tray.

5 Place the two-gallon pan below the transmission drain plug, which is located underneath the car on the driver's side. Take off the Saturn S-Series drain plug and allow the old transaxle fluid to flow into the pan. Be aware that the fluid is warm and will rush out fast.

6 Remove the transaxle filter with the oil filter wrench. Because some fluid may leak out as you take the filter off, make sure it doesn't get on the two sensors near the mount area. Use the rag to clean off any fluid that does.

7 Apply a small amount of transaxle fluid on the replacement gasket before you install the new filter. Using the filter wrench, secure the Saturn S-Series filter with a half to a three-fourths clockwise turn.

8 Put the battery, battery tray and air cleaner box back safely. Clean off the drain plug and the area around it with the rag. Reinstall the drain plug.

9 Pour the appropriate amount of new fluid into the transmission through the funnel. When you're done, remove the funnel and replace the dipstick.

10 Close the hood. Carefully move the drain pan off to the side to allow the old fluid to cool. Once it has, pour it into an empty bottle and dispose of it safely. Remove the jack stands and lower the car.

11 Start the Saturn S-Series to warm up the new fluid. Check for leaks around the filter, and if there are none, let the car run for 10 minutes in park.

12 Re-open the hood. Use the dipstick to check the current level, which should be the same as it was before you replaced it. If it needs more, place the funnel on top of the transmission and slowly add more until at the right level.

13 Go for a short test drive as an extra precaution. Double check the transmission fluid one more time using the same process as before once you get back.

Oh and don't think I wrote all that ... I copied and pasted. If you want pictures and video...you'll have to find those all by yourself.
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Last edited by RjION; 05-09-2012 at 11:00 AM.
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Old 05-09-2012, 01:25 PM
Bobbed06 Bobbed06 is offline
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Wow, Thanks for the info!

I didnt realize that a manual transmission has a filter? and a dipstick...

Saturn really covered their bases on this little car. I will look at it closer tonight after work.
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Old 05-09-2012, 06:05 PM
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uncljohn uncljohn is offline
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My service literature says there is a dip stick to check fluid level. I Could walk out to my 94 and check but it is an automatic so that would not do any good.
The drain plug is at the bottom of the casting that bolts on to the engine so it ought to be big and round because the clutch and flywheel are in there some where. It shuld be on the drivers side of the engine transaxle assembly and goes into the side not the bottom. It implies there is a dip stick. If there is one, that is where the fluid goes into also. Capacity is 2.6 quarts.
Fluid used? Dextron III but I think the replacement for that is Dextron 4 Yes transmission fluid.
Age and miles Begets notchyness. Motor and transmission stuff that fixes things in a can are popular remedies. Carefully designed in most cases to remove money from wallet.
Although some actually do something beneficial. Have I used some? Yes. Specifically what?
Mostly STP as an engine oil additive and occaisionally lucas products to help get old seals to work better. They have done me some good. Would I recommend them? Only if you have some clue as to why you might want to use them. I have seen Z-Max free up oil control rings on Saturn Engines and help with oil consumption problems. Apparently caused by the factory recommended too light weight oil and thus running hot causing the oil control rings to carbon up and stop working.
I have also seen it do nothing.
I drive some high mileage old cars. Also a couple of very heavily modified ones.
Thus, a recommendation.
A standard transmission that uses ATF can be helped under high mileage notchy conditions if you switch to motor oil as a lubricant. In that case I would try Mobil 1 synthetic 15W50. However at best it prolongs the need for an expensive repair.
Do not use the basic Standard transmission lubricant of 80W or similar. That is way to heavy and the oil passages in a standard transmission using ATF are too small for 80W and you will starve bearings out and damage things.
And I have no problem at all using a heavier then recommended light weight motor oil in the engine. I use the temperature range vs oil viscosity charts to select the proper weight and where I live, 20W50 meets those requirements and that is what I use year around.
Most other areas of the U.S. 10W30 or 10W40 are perfectly fine for the summer and 10W30 for winter where snow can be expected.
S cars have not been made in 10 years, mine is 18 years old. They are now old high mileage cars and to get them to continue to last lubrication criteria has changed to Old High Mileage car care.
Remember when a car is new, the objective of the manufacturer is to meet cafe fuel standards and have the car last long enough to get through warrentee with out costing them anything.
Past that not their problem.
Light weight oil helps meet cafe fuel standards, if only remotely.
Heavier weight oils helps the engines last longer so they can be come used cars.
High mileage Oils? I have no idea what they are, I don't care. Most of them are an advertising method to sell you a product.
Old school says, use a heavier weight oil if you want your engine to last longer.
The only engines I have lost were through driver stupidity.
And only 1 transmission and it was a BorgWarner T-10 and for those who know what that is, they also know how I lost it.
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Old 05-09-2012, 07:16 PM
Bobbed06 Bobbed06 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncljohn View Post
My service literature says there is a dip stick to check fluid level. I Could walk out to my 94 and check but it is an automatic so that would not do any good.
The drain plug is at the bottom of the casting that bolts on to the engine so it ought to be big and round because the clutch and flywheel are in there some where. It shuld be on the drivers side of the engine transaxle assembly and goes into the side not the bottom. It implies there is a dip stick. If there is one, that is where the fluid goes into also. Capacity is 2.6 quarts.
Fluid used? Dextron III but I think the replacement for that is Dextron 4 Yes transmission fluid.
Age and miles Begets notchyness. Motor and transmission stuff that fixes things in a can are popular remedies. Carefully designed in most cases to remove money from wallet.
Although some actually do something beneficial. Have I used some? Yes. Specifically what?
Mostly STP as an engine oil additive and occaisionally lucas products to help get old seals to work better. They have done me some good. Would I recommend them? Only if you have some clue as to why you might want to use them. I have seen Z-Max free up oil control rings on Saturn Engines and help with oil consumption problems. Apparently caused by the factory recommended too light weight oil and thus running hot causing the oil control rings to carbon up and stop working.
I have also seen it do nothing.
I drive some high mileage old cars. Also a couple of very heavily modified ones.
Thus, a recommendation.
A standard transmission that uses ATF can be helped under high mileage notchy conditions if you switch to motor oil as a lubricant. In that case I would try Mobil 1 synthetic 15W50. However at best it prolongs the need for an expensive repair.
Do not use the basic Standard transmission lubricant of 80W or similar. That is way to heavy and the oil passages in a standard transmission using ATF are too small for 80W and you will starve bearings out and damage things.
And I have no problem at all using a heavier then recommended light weight motor oil in the engine. I use the temperature range vs oil viscosity charts to select the proper weight and where I live, 20W50 meets those requirements and that is what I use year around.
Most other areas of the U.S. 10W30 or 10W40 are perfectly fine for the summer and 10W30 for winter where snow can be expected.
S cars have not been made in 10 years, mine is 18 years old. They are now old high mileage cars and to get them to continue to last lubrication criteria has changed to Old High Mileage car care.
Remember when a car is new, the objective of the manufacturer is to meet cafe fuel standards and have the car last long enough to get through warrentee with out costing them anything.
Past that not their problem.
Light weight oil helps meet cafe fuel standards, if only remotely.
Heavier weight oils helps the engines last longer so they can be come used cars.
High mileage Oils? I have no idea what they are, I don't care. Most of them are an advertising method to sell you a product.
Old school says, use a heavier weight oil if you want your engine to last longer.
The only engines I have lost were through driver stupidity.
And only 1 transmission and it was a BorgWarner T-10 and for those who know what that is, they also know how I lost it.
Well, my transmission isnt shifting terribly its just due for a fluid change i can tell as its slightly notchy. I have in fact switched my manual transmissions in my Hondas to Mobil 1 10w30 motor oil and noticed a drastically smoother shifting transmission but I chalked that up to the fact that the old lube was shot and not so much that the Mobil 1 was so much better than what it called for.

Regardless I will just use what this Saturn Transmission calls for (Dexron) since I am just looking to maintain this to a factory standard.

I appreciate the info on the Z Max. I just changed the oil over to 10w30 this last oil change, I may switch to 10w 40 next time though.

Its pouring down the rain here so I will wait for better weather to check the trans fluid level and change it.

Thanks so much everybody, I really appreciate the help.

Once I get this task done I need to add some 134A refrigerant as its slight low. Its never been charged since 1999 so I am sure I just need a top up. I talked with an AC specialist and he said cars lose an average of .5 oz per year so he recommended just a recharge. I also inspected the visible components and noticed no oily spots indicating any leakage. I feel fairly confident in just topping it off
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Old 05-10-2012, 04:21 AM
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uncljohn uncljohn is offline
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Quote
Regardless I will just use what this Saturn Transmission calls for (Dexron) since I am just looking to maintain this to a factory standard.
Un-quote
======================
Just remember one thing, factory standards were not written to maintain a car that was way past normal replacement intervals as determined by design standards.
There does come a time when proper maintainence with experiance becomes important.
For example ATF. There are many cars on the road today that were built when ATF recommendations were for fluids no longer available.
When things like that happen you have to learn what is an acceptable substitute
That also includes things like driving conditions, local weather and terrain.
Lubricants that work well in Arizona do not work well in Alaska. An example of extreme heat and cold.
And some times reading the owner's manual carefully indicate ranges of lubricants for different conditions. And the information is carefully packaged in some obscure location in the owners manual. You have one of course right?
I can not remember ever buying a used car that had one.
I have a friend that just purchase a 1983 Corvette, low mileage etc. He is an advocate of hybreds. A vehical that I find completly useless. I am sure that the first oil change will be one of the low viscosity 0-10w oils those things use. The next thing changed will be the engine.
Dunno, I go by the viscosity vs temperature charts and 0-10W oil does not even show unless the car is to be driven in termperatures below -20 degress F.
My Mitsubishi van was sold with 270,000 miles on it and I discovered a few years later is was still being liscensed. I changed the 5 speed over to motor oil when it got notchy. Real Notchy. It did help a bit and it still worked when I sold it. It also still had the original clutch in it.
But, dexron III pretty much replaces a lot of specialty fluids but you need to look it up and I don't think it is on the container.
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Old 10-22-2012, 11:12 PM
Bobbed06 Bobbed06 is offline
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OK guys, I finally have the opportunity to change the fluid in my 99 Saturn SL Manual 5 speed Transmission.

One of the guys at work has a small auto shop and is letting me use his lift in the next few days so I can change the fluid. Does anybody have pictures of the transmission drain plug and fill plug on the 5 speed manual trans for reference?

I am gonna use a premium Dexron 3 fluid, maybe B&M Trick shift or another Top Shelf fluid.
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Old 10-23-2012, 06:50 AM
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uncljohn uncljohn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobbed06 View Post
OK guys, I finally have the opportunity to change the fluid in my 99 Saturn SL Manual 5 speed Transmission.

One of the guys at work has a small auto shop and is letting me use his lift in the next few days so I can change the fluid. Does anybody have pictures of the transmission drain plug and fill plug on the 5 speed manual trans for reference?

I am gonna use a premium Dexron 3 fluid, maybe B&M Trick shift or another Top Shelf fluid.
Here is a url with a series of pictures, the drain and fill plugs are called out on few of them in the first page or so. Scan through the, it should be obvious to you what you are looking for, it was to me and mine is an automatic

https://www.google.com/search?q=S+Saturn+Manual+transmission+drain&hl=en& prmd=imvnsfd&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=64GGUKuL O6XgiwLf24DwCA&ved=0CAoQ_AUoAQ&biw=1366&bih=649.

If I had to guess, the added expense of a top of line lubricant probably is not of any benefit. I believe it uses ATF as a lubricant. And there are reasons for that.

And the transmission is indeed designed to use ATF rather than a heavier gear lube that many of them used to use and still do. The use of the heavier gear lube is not recommended due to the size of the lubrication passages with in the transmission. They are small and will not pass enough lubricant to properly use the heavy weight gear lube. And bearings will starve.

I use Mobil 1 20W50 engine oil in a Ford T5 transmission I have in my Street racer based on performance recommendations and that transmission was prone to problems when driven hard such as drag racing. That has not been a problem with that transmission. I personally would probably be inclined to use the same IF I had a manual transmission 5 speed in my Saturn but I don't. And I drove a Mitsubishe 270,000 miles with a 5 speed using Dextron 3 ATF with no problems and it was still shifting when I sold it. Although it had become a bit notchy!

Last edited by uncljohn; 10-23-2012 at 06:52 AM.
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Old 10-23-2012, 04:42 PM
Bobbed06 Bobbed06 is offline
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OK so I changed the fluid today and it was super easy....

I used Castrol High Mileage ATF Fluid suitable for Dex 3 applications ( 3 qts)

I easily located the drain plug on the bottom passenger side of the transmission, removed that and let it drain out. Fluid was clean however after 110k miles it was a pale pink, and really thin compared to the new fluid.

On the top of the transmission there was actually a dipstick directly below the battery box towards the firewall of the car. ( I checked it prior to draining and it was still full indicating no leaks )

I filled it back up to the full mark ( 2.6 qts) and took it for a drive. The transmission is very much improved, and the shifter is no longer hard to get into 1st gear when in traffic ( the problem that caused me to want to change the fluid) The remaining shifts feel much smoother as well.

So if your manual Saturn trans is hard to shift into 1st gear or getting notchy feeling I highly recommend the Castrol High Mileage ATF fluid for your next change.

Thanks for all the input provided, and I hope this helps somebody else as well.
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Old 10-31-2012, 09:09 AM
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uncljohn uncljohn is offline
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This comment on the transmission fluid and it's predicted for life as a lifetime fluid is correct.
I do though have an opinion. Since the car was manufactured and it is one of many that were designed to use ATF as a standard transmission fluid for lubrication rather than of an earlier standard where Gear Lube of the 90W visicosity or later lubrications as an alternative of 140W for heavy duty applications. Lubrications that should not be used, also as stated in this posting. There has been alternative lubrications formulated that are compatible with this type of transmission. In this case the following lubrication was used:
Castrol High Mileage ATF Fluid suitable for Dex 3 applications
and as reported it appears to be an improvement over standard DEX 3 automatic transmission fluid.
And these things do take place.
One problem in attempting to use a higher viscoisity transmission fluid is that the oil passages with in the transmission are smaller due to design differences and the lubrication does not flow through the transmission correctly. This can lead to starving the bearings from lubrication and bearing failure.
Also many additives that are available as some form of fixit in a can in many cases have a sole function of removing money from wallets rather than performing a measurable function in doing anything to what ever they are poured into. Most of them do no harm and also no good. Some cause damage. The hard part for a person is to figure out is what is any good and what is a sham. The product selection runs the gammut from Pills that turn Water to Gasoline and putting Mothballs in the Gas Tank to products manufactured by repetuable companies that actually do something constructive. But they all claim to be the answer to all questions. In my Mustang T5 BW transmission, also designed to use Dex3 automatic transmission fluid I use Mobile 1 15W50 Synthetic Motor Oil as an alternative fluid. A recomendation made when I installed that transmission as a fluid that is better for heavy duty usage.
And have had no problems with the transmission over the almost 20 some odd years it has been installed.
By the same token I drove a Mitsubishi 270,000 miles with a 5 speed using ATF with no problems also. So which is better? I don't know. However the Mustang Transmission is rated at about 230 ft lbs of torque and it is in an application where it is being used behind an engine that is considerably more powerful and I felt at the time I needed to hedge the bets that a transmission fluid alternative that gave better lubrication (rumoured) that was a better bet. I still do.
But as the previous poster indicated, the recomended transmission fluid will work, but there are better options available. Just be careful as to what you choose to use. These cars are no longer new and there are better things available now due to technology to keep them running. There are also better shysters trying to sell you stuff to remove money from your wallet.
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Old 10-31-2012, 09:09 AM
 
 
 
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