Automatic Transmission Lines/Radiator Problem: DIY?
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  • 2 Post By CT ESSENCE
  • 2 Post By odthetruth
Cadillac CTS First Generation Forum - 2003 - 2007 Discussion, Automatic Transmission Lines/Radiator Problem: DIY? in Cadillac CTS Coupe, Sport Sedan and Sport Wagon Forums; Greetings all, My 2003 CTS Lux/Sport with auto tranny and 73k miles has finally succumbed to the dreaded transmission line ...
  1. #1
    stclaircj is offline Awaiting Email Confirmation
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    Automatic Transmission Lines/Radiator Problem: DIY?

    Greetings all,
    My 2003 CTS Lux/Sport with auto tranny and 73k miles has finally succumbed to the dreaded transmission line problem. The left line (looking at the back of the radiator) appears to have just popped out of the radiator. I was backing into the driveway when the car just started vomiting ATF. There was no coolant loss and since it was "in" line I'm not worried about coolant in the tranny.

    I'd like to fix this myself. I've read a lot about this involving a new radiator, which is no problem in itself, but I am unclear on how the new radiator can attach to the existing transmission lines. The pics of the new radiators I've seen have short hydraulic lines already installed at the inlet and outlet points. I don't see a ready way to separate the existing hydraulic lines from the radiator.

    I've read a lot about this problem, but have found very little about people who have successfully resolved this DIY. I'm looking for personal or known successful experience with resolving this problem.

    Thanks,

    Craig

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  3. #2
    X Rolls-Royce is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Automatic Transmission Lines/Radiator Problem: DIY?

    Dale, Simple2me, can tell you all about it. Boy are you lucky it happened in your driveway, oh so lucky.

    Until Dale comes around, you can follow this link to his picture gallery and see exactly what you are going to be doing.

    http://s709.photobucket.com/albums/w...adillac%20CTS/

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    stclaircj is offline Awaiting Email Confirmation
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    Re: Automatic Transmission Lines/Radiator Problem: DIY?

    Thanks for the reply XR-R, and for the link. I didn't see any pics about the tranny lines, and I certainly hope I don't have to pull the entire engine to get the radiator and tranny lines fixed.

  5. #4
    X Rolls-Royce is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Automatic Transmission Lines/Radiator Problem: DIY?

    There should have been some pix of the radiator and the fittings. No you don't have to pull the engine, just the old radiator. I Private Messaged Dale and asked him to help you. There's a real tricky step involving O-rings on the inside of the radiator you need to know about to do the job right. He's a busy man, working or driving the CTS or building a new race car but he's been good about responding to requests.

    Here's some more reading for you

    http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums...-radiator.html

  6. #5
    CT ESSENCE is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Automatic Transmission Lines/Radiator Problem: DIY?

    I would recommend completely bypassing the Rad and installing an aftermarket tranny cooler.
    RCVW and RCVW like this.

  7. #6
    odthetruth's Avatar
    odthetruth is offline Moderator
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    Re: Automatic Transmission Lines/Radiator Problem: DIY?

    Quote Originally Posted by stclaircj View Post
    Greetings all,
    My 2003 CTS Lux/Sport with auto tranny and 73k miles has finally succumbed to the dreaded transmission line problem. The left line (looking at the back of the radiator) appears to have just popped out of the radiator. I was backing into the driveway when the car just started vomiting ATF. There was no coolant loss and since it was "in" line I'm not worried about coolant in the tranny.

    I'd like to fix this myself. I've read a lot about this involving a new radiator, which is no problem in itself, but I am unclear on how the new radiator can attach to the existing transmission lines. The pics of the new radiators I've seen have short hydraulic lines already installed at the inlet and outlet points. I don't see a ready way to separate the existing hydraulic lines from the radiator.

    I've read a lot about this problem, but have found very little about people who have successfully resolved this DIY. I'm looking for personal or known successful experience with resolving this problem.

    Thanks,

    Craig

    Take both lines off the trans, pack up the fitting with JB weld and basically seal up the holes in the rad... then run external transmission cooler. 1 line in, 1 line out. Its real simple. The reason there isn't a huge DIY is because no one has used a camera to take pics of a procedure that probably takes 30 minutes or so.
    RCVW and RCVW like this.

    [2006 CTS-V - "The Vee Baby Seamus"] - 372rwhp / 361rwtq
    Pacesetters | Off Road Adapters | Cutouts | Stock Airbox | Stock Catback
    BMR AWK | CS Diff Block | Short Shifter | UMI MM | Revshift TM

  8. #7
    X Rolls-Royce is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Automatic Transmission Lines/Radiator Problem: DIY?

    Quote Originally Posted by odthetruth View Post
    The reason there isn't a huge DIY is because no one has used a camera to take pics of a procedure that probably takes 30 minutes or so.
    Sandelet took pictures, and a picture is worth a thousand words. I added a link to the big long Transmission Lines Popping Out thread. I added a link to the trans thread to my Warranty Limits thread too.

  9. #8
    stclaircj is offline Awaiting Email Confirmation
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    Re: Automatic Transmission Lines/Radiator Problem: DIY?

    Thanks for the replies about the external cooler, but I want to keep it stock. The car is actually up for sale and I just want to do a sound, stock repair and send it on it's way.

    I just need to know what I need to do to get those hydraulic fittings off of the old radiator and the cooler lines onto the new one. Special tools? (my guy at NAPA suggested there might be some).

    There was also a suggestion in the NAPA parts computer that the radiator has to be installed from the underside of the car? I've worked on BMWs of many generations for nearly a decade and, typically, once drained a radiator swap could be done in about 20 minutes. Pretty much a quick plug & play.

    Any help or sources for a service manual would be great, as all of the megupload files here are firewalled now.

  10. #9
    simple2me's Avatar
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    Re: Automatic Transmission Lines/Radiator Problem: DIY?

    The tranny lines screw right into the cooler which is part of the radiator. The lines are the only thing that can be removed and once removed the cooler just flops around inside the radiator. It's not your typical GM design which has an actual fitting screwed into the radiator and the line is held in with a clip. It's really a crappy design. I see you mentioned something about the new radiator having lines come off of it already and you are trying to figure out how to get the old lines on it. I haven't seen a replacement radiator for these things. Maybe they changed the design and you just need to cut off the rubber hose on the original line and run rubber new rubber lines. I'd have to see the setup but that's what it sounds like.

  11. #10
    X Rolls-Royce is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Automatic Transmission Lines/Radiator Problem: DIY?

    Dale ? Thanks for showing up. I know you're a busy man.

  12. #11
    simple2me's Avatar
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    Re: Automatic Transmission Lines/Radiator Problem: DIY?

    I'm half asleep. Sorry. The radiator. I've had a long last couple of days.

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    stclaircj is offline Awaiting Email Confirmation
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    Re: Automatic Transmission Lines/Radiator Problem: DIY?

    Thanks for the reply simple2me. I'll get a pic of the line that popped off the radiator and a pic of the fittings on the new radiator (haven't bought yet). It appears to me that the line coming out of the transmission fastens to the metal fitting on the radiator somehow. Threaded? There's not a bolt on which to use a wrench, so I'm not sure how to approach the thing.

  14. #13
    stclaircj is offline Awaiting Email Confirmation
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    Re: Automatic Transmission Lines/Radiator Problem: DIY?

    I finally got the radiator & transmission lines replaced. I rounded out the fill plug on the tranny, which took some additional time to get out. The following are the essential FYIs I think people will need to know if they choose to replace the stock radiator AND use the stock ATF cooler:

    --The new transmission lines I ordered from Cadillac came with the tool to release the quick-connect that attaches the transmission lines to the radiator. It worked like a charm. My inlet line was too corroded or gunked up for the tool to work.

    --It is not necessary to completely remove the cooling fans to replace the radiator. One just needs to be very careful that the fans are out of the way enough. You'll also need to be patient with inserting the radiator so as not to damage the fins.

    --The stock hose clamps would not work with the aftermarket upper and lower radiator hoses I got. The exterior diameter was just a bit too large. The ID was fine.

    --The transmission fill plug was on very tight. I didn't expect this and rounded out the torx star. Use lots of PB Blaster right from the start. I used a punch and hammer to get the plug off. A bolt extractor helped me to gouge the hole in the plug I needed to get the punch to grab. Harbor Freight Tools also carries an extractor set priced at $6.99 that will work very well for getting out a rounded plug. I found it AFTER I used the above method.

    --Cadillac no longer stocks the fill plugs for these cars. They could get the plugs from a third-party vendor (to which they sold their stock ?!) for $40 and it would take about a week. Both Toyota (PN: 90033-41020) and BMW (PN: 24117552349), however, carry a plug that fits. I got one from BMW for $9.33. It fit perfectly. The Toyota part was cheaper at $5.50, but they didn't have it in stock at my dealer. Plus, I have a great relationship with my BMW parts guy, as I also own a 98 318ti (and many others in the past).

    I hope this helps somebody else out there how decides to replace the radiator and use the stock ATF cooler.

  15. #14
    jran0823's Avatar
    jran0823 is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    I don't get why so many people have this issue? I have a 03 with 103k on the clock and it gets driven in the winter as well as the rest of the year. We usually get a fair amount of snow in Wisconsin, as well as 4 tons of salt, and I don't have any corrosion on my AT cooler lines or the fittings on the radiator. I don't even have a spec of rust on the entire car or underbody. Does everyone not clean their underbody of the car or what?

  16. #15
    stclaircj is offline Awaiting Email Confirmation
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    Re: Automatic Transmission Lines/Radiator Problem: DIY?

    Because Cadillac made a crappy oil cooler setup, that's why people have this issue.

    --You won't see corrosion on the oil cooler lines themselves or on the externally visible fittings on the cooler because they are aluminum. What actually corroded/rotted on mine looked to be some kind of washer on the inlet fitting under the "bolt." Additionally, corrosion per se isn't the actual problem, but the fitting strips and will no longer hold in the cooler (maybe due to the rusted washer??). Everything looked good on my busted unit--except for this corroded/rotted washer and the stripped aluminum fitting.

    I'd check your oil cooler inlet fitting very carefully. Odds are, since so many people have this problem, you could be missing something....

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