Transmission Fluid Change
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Cadillac Escalade, EXT and ESV Forum - 1999 - 2006 Discussion, Transmission Fluid Change in Cadillac Escalade Forums; Alright, changing the transmission fluid in an Escalade... Again, these photos are from a 2004 Escalade, AWD, 6.0 Liter V8, ...
  1. #1
    Patrick7997's Avatar
    Patrick7997 is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Transmission Fluid Change

    Alright, changing the transmission fluid in an Escalade...

    Again, these photos are from a 2004 Escalade, AWD, 6.0 Liter V8, Vin N Engine. If you're not sure on the engine, the 8th letter of your Vin is the Engine code.

    Right up front, I'm gonna tell you, this may not be "according to Hoyle", okay.... This method is sort of "borrowed" from what I picked up from some guys who used this method on Eldorados and Sevilles.... I did this to my Eldorado Touring Coupe, and it worked great. I just did the Escalade a month ago, and it worked out great, I have no issues whatsoever.

    This is not flushing. This is merely pumping out the old, and filling it with new. No dropping of the pan is required. I'm very suspicious that this is what they do at dealers, maybe, because the dealers near me don't stock filters, you have to order it. So, I get the impression they don't drop the pan either.

    Whatever. Ideally, in a perfect world, you would drop the pan, change the filters and gasket, replaced the pan, refill with fluid, and THEN do the procedure you are about to read.

    I admit, all I did was what you are about to read. The truck only had upper 40's on it, so....

    Okay, first, you are going to need an assistant to do this. The assistant will sit in the truck, and will start the engine when told to do so, and will shut off the engine when told to do so. I am very fortunate to have my GF, "The Doc", as my assistant.... You'd think a University Professor and Research Scientist at a Hospital would be smart enough not to associate with people like me.... what can I say.

    Alright, with the hood up, standing on the passneger side of the engine bay, looking in at the backside of the radiator area, you should see something like this:

    Reduced: 64% of original size [ 800 x 600 ] - Click to view full image


    See that little silver line, with the rag under it?? That's a return line from the transmission cooler. In that photo, I have pulled back a black plastic thing over the fitting. The fitting is now exposed.

    That line is held in place by a tiny circlip, or "C" clip. Use a little pick, or a real small screwdriver, and pull that out of it's little channel. Be careful, it likes to go flying when it comes loose...

    Once that is off, you should be able to simply pull the line out. Pulling to the left, as seen here... This apparently is just a tapered fitting...

    Reduced: 64% of original size [ 800 x 600 ] - Click to view full image


    You can see there, I have pulled off the line. Some will probably drip. That's what the rag is for.

    Now, you are going to have to purchase (or find in your garage) some line... I used a 3/4 inch inside diameter by 1" outside diameter piece of plastic line, like so.

    Reduced: 64% of original size [ 800 x 600 ] - Click to view full image


    That is the line, forced over the entire fitting area.

    Reduced: 64% of original size [ 800 x 600 ] - Click to view full image


    In case this picture is a little better, another look.

    Now, you need an assistant because you are going to have to stand there and hold the line in place.

    The other end of the line should be routed into a large drain pain. I used a big yellow radiator style pan, and it was barely big enough. Also, it would really help if fluid didn't "back up" in the line, so route the line DOWN through the engine compartment, into your pan. I used like about a 5 or 6 foot piece of that line.

    What's going to happen is this:

    Step 1: Assistant will start the truck. Transmission Fluid will start flowing STRONGLY out of that fitting, into your hose, and down into the pan. It comes out HARD. Keep holding that hose! There is no need to rev the engine. Just start it and let it idle.

    Step 2: It will only take a few seconds, and the flow will start to sputter. 7 or 8 seconds maybe??? Not real long.

    Step 3: IMMEDIATELY when you see sputtering, signal your assistant to shut off the truck. Roughly 2 or 3 quarts will have come out.

    Step 4: Add 2 or 3 quarts of Dexron VI (thats dexron six) through the dipstick tube, thus replacing what you just pumped out.

    Step 5: Go back to step One.

    You will do that a few times. I ended up pumping out about 15-16 quarts, roughly....

    You are looking for bright clean red Dexron to come out into your line. If you use a clear line, like I did, it will be quite apparent when you are no longer pumping out scuzzy brown fluid, and are now pumping bright ruby red fluid....

    When bright red fluid comes out, you could stop.... or you could do ONE more cycle, for laughs, just to be sure....

    When you've had enough, get your clear plastic line out of there.

    Replace the circlip in the fitting, and then press the silver line back into the hole. The line will "click" back into place when the fitting on the line passes through the circlip.

    It doesn't seem like the greatest setup, but I must say, I have no seeping, no leaking, nothing. Total bone dryness.

    Then do the last refill, put like 2 quarts in through the dipstick tube. To sum up, basically you are using the engine to pump out, and you are replacing with fresh. Just keep repeating that until fresh stuff makes it all the way back to you, and your tube.

    Tranny fluid on this truck should be checked with the truck on level ground, engine warm, engine on and idling.

    Because the dipstick tube is so long, and at such a "flat" angle, I tended to get a "false full" reading. It was close, however. But if you wait a day, drive it somewhere, and check it, that's a better reading.

    Over the course of 3 or 4 days, I added maybe another quart, in 1/2 quart increments. You don't want to over fill this!!

    Also, let me note:

    Reduced: 64% of original size [ 800 x 600 ] - Click to view full image


    I used this stuff. There's a service bulletin out there somewhere that says going forward, all tranny fluid should be Dexron VI. It's apparently backwards compatible with anything that ever used Dexron III. Now, the GM Dex 6 has an amazing price, at least around here. This stuff I found at Advance Auto Parts for about $4 a quart. I have also seen at Wal-Mart, there is a "Super-Tech" brand Dexron 6 that is even more reasonable.

    That's what I did, and it worked for me. Admittedly, this is a little "quick and dirty", but it's probably WAY better than the "nothing" that most people do....

    Good luck.

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  3. #2
    hcvone is offline Cadillac Owners 10000+ Posts
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    Re: Transmission Fluid Change

    Making a sticky. thanks Patrick.

  4. #3
    digitalcaddie is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Transmission Fluid Change

    Nice post Patrick. Does anyone have any comments about how to utilize this method AND drop the pan/change the filter? After dropping the pan and replacing the filter, I'm guessing that most of the fluid will not come out so I suppose I could do the pan first, refill whatever fluid drains out, then use this method until the fluid coming through the system is clean.

    Or I could do this first to replace the fluid, drop the pan while collecting all the new fluid that comes out, button things back up and then pour the new fluid back in again. Does anyone think that one method is better than the other? It seems like it would take the same amount of time either way since you're doing the same amount of work, just in a different order.

    Maybe dropping the pan first would allow me to clean junk off the magnets, etc. first so it would not get stuck in the new fluid so maybe that's the way to go.

    I dunno...what do you guys think?

  5. #4
    digitalcaddie is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Transmission Fluid Change

    Nevermind. I just reread Patrick's post where he recommends changing filter/dropping pan first and then flushing out the rest of the fluid. Makes sense I guess...

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    oldworld is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Transmission Fluid Change

    This is a great idea and thank you for the pics. I tried a similar tactic with my jeep...by accident. I forgot to tighten the hose clamp for the tranny cooler and it came off and shot fluid everywhere. :-(
    But then I got the same idea listed here on how to drain the tranny using a similar method.

    I think changing the fluid first, then dropping pan makes more sense. This way the filter you put in is 100% clean. You can still chemically clean the pan and magnets before putting back on.

    Anyone here use lucas when doing a tranny oil change???

  7. #6
    sk7's Avatar
    sk7
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    Re: Transmission Fluid Change

    Great post! I decided to drop the pan on mine, after reading there's a magnet in there, I just had to take a peek on how bad (or good) a condition the tranny is. And also replace the filter. Proper filter for the pan you see pictured is the shallow model. I found on another site that the deep pan measures closer than 6" in depth. Mine is under 4".

    The job started rather bad... I was praising the GM engineers (that doesn't happen often) for adding a drainplug to the pan! Great idea. Unfortunately, some moron tightened it so hard that I wasn't able to remove it! I didn't try with an air impact, not wanting to break anything. The clip for the shift lever just slides off, then squeeze both sides of the cable to release it from the bracket. The end just pops off the lever easily. Removing all 16 13mm screws was easy, all were properly and evenly tightened. I let the fluid drip by loosening the bolts a little and waiting. Then I realized the pan cannot come off unless the cable holder, which is sitting very close to the tranny, comes off. It's held in place by 2 T40 screws that are very hard to access on top of the tranny. I managed to get a ratchet on em, but those were stuck there for good! Plan B; bend the upper tab on the bracket and pry it with a long prybar while negotiating the pan downwards (while trying not to get soaked by the oil still in there!) End result shown here:



    The magnet was covered in metallic goo, but no big chuncks of metal. Good! Since I picked the wrong filter, I had to let the thing drip down all weekend in the garage. Pic of the pan before and after cleanup.



    Since the pan was off, I tried to remove the drain plug and coat it with anti-seize for the next oil change. Niet! It's stuck there for good!



    I also cut a small notch in the pan to help reinstall it. I find it hard to believe nobody at GM has ever bothered to remove that pan while the tranny is still attached to the engine to realize what a poor design that cable bracket is!



    Added 4 litres of regular Dexron III ATF, went for a test drive, had to add another 2 liters to bring the level up to the correct spot. Pan bolts torque is 12 N-M. No leaks, tranny doesnt shift any differently, but I did notice a slightly lower operating temperature.

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    kihon is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Transmission Fluid Change

    I have a 2003 EXT with 52K on it. It's time for a tranny service. Anyhow, I'll do it myself either dropping the pan or doing it the pumping out method. I'm confused on what oil to use. I see people talking about Dextron III and VI. 88861003 and 88861045

    Which one do I use? Also, is there an all inclusive thread describing all oils used in my truck and where?

    Thanks!

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    kihon is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Transmission Fluid Change

    Bump
    Quote Originally Posted by kihon View Post
    I have a 2003 EXT with 52K on it. It's time for a tranny service. Anyhow, I'll do it myself either dropping the pan or doing it the pumping out method. I'm confused on what oil to use. I see people talking about Dextron III and VI. 88861003 and 88861045

    Which one do I use? Also, is there an all inclusive thread describing all oils used in my truck and where?

    Thanks!

  10. #9
    kihon is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Transmission Fluid Change

    Today I did mine:

    I drove my EXT up onto car ramps and also secured it with jack stands to make sure it wouldn't fall off. OK, what I did was removed the drain plug. It was MONDO tight. I first tried to remove it with my Snap on flank drive box end wrench but it wanted to round off. I couldn't believe it. But, how I ended up getting it off was with a Snap-on impact socket and my 1/2 in air drive impact. I figured that if I ruined it, I'd just take it to Jiffy Lube or do the "remove the cooler line method". Using the impact wrench and holding the socket tightly with my hand so it didn't spin off super fast, I hit the gun a few times and low and behold she started to turn. I guess it was the impact force or something.

    So, what I did do with the oil? I drained it down, exactly 2.5 quarts(I measured it) came out, it didn't smell burnt much. So, I put the the drain plug back in and added 2.5 quarts of Castrol Dextron VI through the dipstick hole. Drove it around for 25 mins, going from reverse to forward, etc. Then I went back up onto the car ramps, and removed the trans oil again. Once drained for the 2nd time, I re-added the 2.5 quarts one more time.

    Hopefully by doing this, I did a proper flush and change.

  11. #10
    box986 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Transmission Fluid Change

    I couldn't remove the drain plug when the pan was on the car, but did end up getting it off after I had the pan off. (I tried to remove by using a 1/2" impact wrench but only had a 15mm 12 pt socket and it just rounded the bolt head) The gentleman on the post above me had the right idea by using a 6 pt impact socket.

    About 5 qts drained from the tranny and lines (I blew out the cooler lines which allowed some more to drain down). Now at least I can remove the drain plug and change 2.5 qts each time. Used a Purolator filter and Amsoil ATF. Dealer wants $50 for the AC Delco filter, I paid $30. Originally bought both WIX filters from RockAuto (deep pan & shallow pan types) and they were both wrong. Got the Purolator filter kit (P1267) from Pep Boys.

    Also did the transfer case which took 1.5 qts Amsoil ATF.

    Here is how I had to get that damn drain plug off:


  12. #11
    box986 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Transmission Fluid Change

    Update to above post. After running the car and warming up the tranny, I needed to add another quart to get the level to the top of the hashmarks on the dipstick. So a total of 6 quarts was actually drained from the tranny when I removed the pan & let the lines drain down by removing the line going to the radiator and letting the tranny drip a few days. This was on an 03 EXT.

  13. #12
    box986 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Transmission Fluid Change

    The exact amount of fluid that comes out when removing the tranny drain plug is 2 qt, 24 oz for an 03 EXT.

  14. #13
    agapeEscalade is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Transmission Fluid Change

    This is why I joined the forum. Thanks

  15. #14
    hamkan is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Transmission Fluid Change

    Looking forward to try this on my new escalade

  16. #15
    Gale Hawkins is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Transmission Fluid Change

    Thanks for the good write up. We purchased a 2003 Escalade last Saturday with 102K miles. Checking with the servicing dealer the vavle body was replaced at 40K miles because of hard shift complains and that was all the dealership knew about transmission service so I am sure it is very overdue.

    I got the hose and a clamp at Lowes last night and 13 quarts of Tech Dexron IV fluid at WM for $3.77 a quart. The dealer said before it was machine flushed they would change the oil in the pan and add conditioners. I have added a pint of Sea Foam while it is not a 'conditioner' it does help clean up the varnish build up created by the fluid over time.

    This write up helped because I did not know how to make the connection. I have done this bucket flush with the motorhome but it has an add on cooler so making the connection was simple because the hose just clamped on.

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