How to Check the Transmission Fluid in a Chevy Cavalierby Jody L. Campbell
Checking your transmission fluid level in a Chevy Cavalier is not as easy as in other cars. For starters, you won't be able to find the dipstick. If you have regular oil changes performed at a local lube shop, you could ask the tech to check it there. But with the right equipment and these suggestions, you can perform the job yourself.
Drive the vehicle for 5 to 10 minutes to warm up the transmission fluid. This will expand the fluid and give you a proper reading. Park the vehicle on a flat paved or concrete surface. Shift through all the gears with your foot on the brake and hold in each position for 3 seconds. Place the vehicle in "Park" and leave running on idle. Apply the parking brake.
Pop the hood and locate the transmission fill cap on the lower left-hand side (driver's side) on the center of side of the engine. It's a red cap; should be able to see it from the front left of the vehicle or standing near the left front fender. Remove the cap and place the long narrow-necked funnel into the transmission fill hole just in case you need to add fluid. Chances are, unless you have a leak, you won't need to add fluid, but if you do it will be easier placing the funnel in now before the vehicle is elevated.
Raise the vehicle. Use the floor jack to lift one corner of the vehicle at a time and place all four jack stands in the same height position to level the vehicle as best you can. It is not recommended to use different height floor jacks or a pair of cinder blocks for one axle and jack stands for the other. If you cannot raise all four corners of the vehicle and have it be as close to level as possible, there's no point in performing this task at home.
Crawl under vehicle using a creeper if you have one, and locate the bottom of the transmission. It is fairly centered. On the right side (passenger side) of the transmission a few inches from the bottom is a small plug bolt. Place a drain bucket below the plug. Loosen the plug bolt and remove using a hand wrench or ratchet and socket. If fluid starts to come out when you remove the plug, allow it to trickle until it stops. If no fluid comes out, crawl from under the vehicle and add the proper amount of transmission fluid into the funnel until you see it trickle out of the fluid check hole. Add just a little bit at a time and check to see if and when it begins to trickle out. When it stops trickling, crawl back under and tighten the fluid check hole plug, wipe the area clean with a shop rag and remove the drain bucket.
Lower the vehicle one axle at a time, remove the funnel, replace the transmission fill cap, release the parking brake and turn the vehicle off.
Things You'll Need
- Floor jack and 4 jack stands Long narrow-necked funnel (optional) 1- or 2-qt. transmission filter Small hand wrenches or 3/8-inch ratchet and sockets Drain bucket Creeper (optional) Shop rag
Jody L. Campbell spent over 15 years as both a manager and an under-car specialist in the automotive repair industry. Prior to that, he managed two different restaurants for over 15 years. Campbell began his professional writing career in 2004 with the publication of his first book.