How to Check the Transmission Fluid in a Saturn CVT

by John Stevens J.D.
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Saturn used the continuously variable transmission (CVT) in the Ion Quad Coupe and in the Vue during the mid-2000s. These transmissions are specifically designed to improve gas mileage by keeping the speed of the engine relatively low. However, the CVT transmission is notoriously expensive to repair. Even the CVT’s transmission fluid is expensive. The key to realizing the maximum lifespan of the CVT is to ensure that it has the proper amount of fluid, and to add fluid if necessary.

Step 1

Park the Saturn on a level surface and allow it to idle until the engine is warm.

Step 2

Apply the parking brake and depress the brake pedal, then shift the transmission through each of its gears for 30 seconds. This will ensure that the transmission fluid is properly distributed throughout the transmission and that the fluid level on the dipstick is accurate.

Step 3

Raise the hood and withdraw the transmission’s dipstick. The dipstick is located next to the radiator cap.

Step 4

Wipe the fluid off of the dipstick with a lint-free cloth. Insert the dipstick into the tube, then withdraw it again.

Step 5

Observe where the transmission fluid stops on the dipstick. There are two horizontal marks which have been stamped into the dipstick. The fluid must be between these two marks. If the fluid is not between the two marks, then fluid must be added.

Step 6

Insert a funnel into the tip of the dipstick tube. Pour new transmission fluid into the funnel in small increments, periodically stopping and measuring the fluid level with the dipstick. Take care to only use Saturn transmission fluid, part number 22688912, as other fluid types will damage the transmission. Remove the funnel and insert the dipstick into the tube to complete the check once the correct level is reached.

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