How do I Change Transmission Fluid on Chevrolet Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

Changing the transmission fluid in a Chevrolet car is essential to the Chevrolet car ability to shift accurately. The transmission is a hydraulic machine that is run by bands that shift the vehicle when the engine speed is too great for the gear in use. The system works off pressure created by the hydraulic fluid. Years of use can cause the fluid to break down and become contaminated. Changing the fluid and filter is a must to maintaining the life of the transmission.

Under The Hood:

 How do I Change Transmission Fluid on a 2003 Chevy Impala?

Draining the Transmission Oil

Drive or idle your Chevy Impala for about 20 minutes to bring the engine and transmission oil to operating temperature.

Lift the front of your Impala with a floor jack, and place a jack stand on each side under the frame for support. Set the parking brake, and block each of the rear wheels with a chock.

Place a large drain pan under the transmission, and begin to loosen the front and side bolts from the transmission pan gradually until you remove the bolts with a ratchet, long ratchet extension and socket. Loosen the bolts carefully; extremely hot transmission oil will begin to drain out of the pan.

Loosen the rear pan bolts about four turns with the ratchet, long ratchet extension and socket. Carefully pry the pan loose at the front with a plastic scraper to drain as much oil as possible.

Grab a shop rag. Hold the bottom of the drain pan with it and remove the rear pan bolts. Carefully lower the pan over the drain pan, and drain the rest of the transmission oil.

Remove the drain pan, transmission pan and gasket. Pry the transmission gasket loose from underneath the transmission using a long flat-blade screwdriver; remove the gasket and gasket seal.

Refilling the Transmission with New Oil

Clean and wipe clean the transmission and pan mating surfaces with a plastic scraper and a clean, lint-free shop rag. Lightly coat the new transmission gasket with petroleum jelly around its mounting fitting, and install the gasket and new seal. Tap the gasket in place with a rubber mallet.

Replace the transmission pan in its original position along with a new pan gasket, and install the pan mounting bolts finger tight. Tighten the bolts to 10 foot-lbs. with a torque wrench, long ratchet extension and socket. Gradually tighten and torque the bolts using a star pattern. Begin with one of the bolts in the middle section of either side, than go to the opposite side. Tighten the bolts gradually, alternating between the left and right side of the pan, and work your way to each end of the pan until you have properly tightened all the bolts.

Lower your vehicle off the jack stands, and remove the chocks from the rear wheels.

Open the hood and remove the transmission dipstick. Insert a funnel into the dipstick tube and pour 14.8 pints, if you have the 3.4L Chevy engine model, or 14 pints, if you have the 3.8L Chevy engine model, of automatic transmission fluid (ATF) and replace the dipstick. You may use any ATF product designated as Dexron-VI.

Start the engine and let it warm up for about 15 minutes. Shift the transmission through every gear gradually, pausing for two seconds in every gear until you reach the parking gear again. Leave the engine idling.

Pull out the transmission dipstick, wipe it clean with a lint-free shop rag and reinsert the dipstick all the way in. Pull out the dipstick again and check that the oil level reaches the middle of the crosshatch area at the bottom of the dipstick. If you need to add more oil, only add a little bit at a time until it reaches the correct level.

Check for oil leaks around the transmission pan, and turn off the engine.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Two jack stands

  • Two chocks

  • Large drain pan

  • Ratchet

  • Long ratchet extension

  • Socket

  • Plastic scraper

  • Shop rag

  • Long flat-blade screwdriver

  • Lint-free shop rag

  • Petroleum jelly

  • Rubber mallet

  • New transmission-pan gasket

  • Torque wrench

  • Dexron-VI automatic transmission fluid

 How to Change the Transmission Fluid on a 94 S10

Raise the front of the S-10 with a floor jack. Sit jack stands under the frame rails and lower the S-10 until only the stands support it.

Crawl under the S-10 and place the drain pan under the transmission pan. Remove the bolts from the front and both sides of the transmission pan, using a ratchet and socket. Loosen the rear bolts on the transmission pan only about four turns.

Pry downward on the transmission pan with a flat-head screwdriver to free it from the transmission, allowing the fluid to drain from the transmission pan into the drain pan. Once the fluid stops draining, hold the transmission pan up and remove the rear transmission pan bolts. Pull the transmission pan down and pour any remaining fluid from the transmission pan into the drain pan.

Remove the transmission pan gasket. Scrape any debris from the mating surface on the transmission, using a plastic gasket scraper, and wipe it with a clean, lint-free shop cloth.

Grab the transmission filter and pull it downward to remove it. Insert the new transmission filter's neck into the transmission and press upward until the filter seats into place.

Clean the mating surface on the transmission pan, using a plastic scraper and clean, lint-free cloths.

Remove the magnet from the transmission pan and clean it with a clean, lint-free cloth and parts cleaner. Hold the transmission pan over the drain pan and clean it by spraying parts cleaner in it. Wipe any heavy sludge from the transmission pan, using clean, lint-free shop cloths. Reinstall the magnet into the transmission pan.

Place a thin bead of silicone on the transmission pan mating surface. Sit the transmission gasket on the mating surface, making certain all of the bolt holes on the gasket line up with the holes on the pan. (The RTV silicone holds the gasket in place while placing it on the transmission.)

Place the transmission pan on the transmission and hand-tighten the pan bolts. Torque the pan bolts, in a crisscross pattern, to 8 foot-pounds with a torque wrench and a socket.

Raise the S-10 with a floor jack and remove the jack stands from under it. Lower the truck to the ground.

Remove the transmission oil dipstick and insert a funnel into the dipstick tube. Pour 5 quarts of new Dexron VI automatic transmission fluid into the dipstick tube.

Start the engine, hold the brake and shift through every gear. Return the gear shifter to the "Park" position.

Allow the engine to idle and pull the transmission oil dipstick from the engine compartment. Wipe the dipstick off with a clean, lint-free cloth and reinsert the dipstick. Pull the dipstick out and verify the transmission oil level is between the two dimples on the dipstick, below the "Add" mark -- this is the correct fluid level when the transmission fluid is cold. Add fluid, as needed, to reach the proper level.

Drive the S-10 for 10 to 20 miles to warm it up, then recheck the fluid level. The correct level when warm is the cross-hatched section. Add fluid, as needed, to reach this level.

Take the old transmission fluid, filter and soiled cloths to an automotive fluid recycling center. Most auto pats store perform this task free of charge.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Drain pan

  • Ratchet

  • Socket set

  • Flat-head screwdriver

  • Plastic gasket scraper

  • Clean, lint-free shop cloths

  • Transmission filter and gasket set

  • Parts cleaner

  • RTV Silicone

  • Torque wrench

  • Funnel

  • 5 quarts Dexron VI transmission fluid

 How to Change Transmission Fluid on a 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier

Drive the front passenger wheel onto the vehicle ramp and place the chalk block behind the rear driver side wheel. The chalk block will keep the Cavalier from coming off the ramp.

Get under the transmission and place the drain pan under the drain plug. Remove the drain plug using the ratchet and socket.

Drain the transmission fluid into the drain pan. Allow the fluid to drain for about five minutes and then replace and tighten the drain plug.

Back the 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier off of the vehicle ramp and open the hood. Remove the red-handled dipstick and pour the replacement transmission fluid into the transmission. Replace the dipstick once the transmission is full.

Items you will need

  • Vehicle ramp

  • Chalk block

  • Drain pan

  • 5/8-inch socket

  • Ratchet

  • Replacement transmission fluid

 How to Change the Transmission Fluid in a Blazer

Allow the engine to cool down completely.

Place the drain pan under the transmission.

Locate the drain plug on the bottom of the transmission fluid reservior. The reservior is located under the engine, forward of the oil pan.

Use the crescent wrench to loosen and remove the drain plug.

Allow the transmission to drain until there is only an occasional drip.

Use the crescent wrench, turning clockwise to reinstall the drain plug.

Open the hood and locate the transmission dipstick. It is located next to the oil dipstick.

Remove the dipstick and insert the funnel into the hole.

Add 5 gallons of transmission oil that is the right type for your year/model Blazer.

Start the engine and allow it to come up to operating temperature.

Use the funnel to slowly add a gallon of fluid at a time, checking the level with the dipstick frequently until it reaches the full/hot level. Reinsert the dipstick. The job should take about 30 minutes.

Items you will need

  • 12 gallons of specific transmission fluid for the year/model of your Blazer

  • 12-gallon drain pan

  • Crescent wrench

 How to Change the Transmission Fluid on an Astro Van

Park the van on level ground and make sure the engine is cool. Lift the front of the car up on a pair of jacks to more easily access the underside of the engine.

Slide underneath the car and locate the round metal gear box in the center of the car. In front of the gear box is a pipe with a drain bolt on it. Place a large drain pan (at least 11 quarts) underneath the gear box. Remove the drain bolt with the 1/2-inch socket wrench.

Wait 15 to 20 minutes for the transmission fluid to finish draining from the drain bolt into the drain pan below. Wash the bolt while waiting for it to finish draining. Replace the bolt with the socket wrench. Lower the car from the jacks.

Pop the hood with the release lever located below the steering column. Keep the hood raised with the tension bar. Find the transmission dipstick above the drain pan and remove it from the tube. Place a funnel into the transmission tube. Pour in 11 quarts of Dexron III transmission fluid. Replace the dipstick and close the hood.

Items you will need

  • Front jacks

  • 1/2-inch socket wrench

  • Drain pan

  • Funnel

  • 11 quarts Dexron III transmission fluid

 How to Change Transmission Fluid in a Chevy Truck

Removing the Pan

Locate the transmission underneath the truck. The transmission is located just behind the motor. The transmission pan is the bottom portion of the transmission.

Check the pan to see if there is a drain plug. If there is, you can drain the transmission pan before unbolting it. Have a pan to catch the fluid. Loosen the plug with a crescent wrench. Allow all of the fluid to drain and then tighten the plug. If the pan does not have a plug, proceed to unbolting the pan, in Step 3.

Locate and unscrew all of the bolts positioned around the drain pan. Hold the pan up with one hand once the bolts are loose. This is especially important if there is no plug on the transmission pan. Lower the pan once it is loose.

Empty the transmission fluid into a drain pan. The transmission pan needs to be emptied and cleaned before re-installing it.

Scrape the old gasket material from around the pan and the bottom of the transmission. This will ensure the pan does not leak when the pan is re-installed.

Unscrew the filter with a socket wrench. The filter is located in the transmission housing.

Installing the Pan

Clean out the pan with brake cleaner, which will help clean the old fluid out of the pan. If there are any metal shavings in the pan, you'll have to clean those out, too.

Tighten the new filter to the transmission with the socket wrench. The new filter needs to be changed with the fluid. Place the O-ring on the filter suction side and be sure it is sitting firmly before attaching the filter.

Place the gasket on the transmission pan. Be sure the bolt holes in the pan match up to the holes in the transmission pan.

Raise the pan to the bottom of the transmission and start the bolts. Do not tighten the bolts until they are all started.

Tighten all the bolts snug with the socket wrench. The pan is ready for the fluid.

Filling the Fluid

Open the hood to access the engine compartment. Locate the transmission oil dipstick toward the back of the engine. The transmission dipstick is designated by a red cap.

Insert a funnel into the fill tube where the dispstick was inserted. This will be where you pour the transmission fluid.

Pour in five quarts of fluid. Check the transmission oil level after the fifth quart to ensure you do not overfill.

Pour fluid in as needed by the half quart. Check the level after you fill. This method will take longer but it will help you avoid overfilling.

Start the vehicle and let it run for at least a minute. Place your foot on the brake and shift through all the gears. Start at reverse and shift down to Low 1. Place the vehicle back in park.

Check the level. Fill if the level is low.

Place the dipstick back in to the tube. Push it down firmly to lock it to the tube. Close the hood to complete the task.

Items you will need

  • Crescent wrench

  • Socket wrench

  • Socket set

  • Drain pan

  • Brake cleaner

  • Ten ounces of transmission fluid

  • Transmission filter

  • Transmission pan gasket

 How to Change the Transmission Fluid in a 1997 S-10 Blazer

Park the Blazer on a level surface. Allow the truck to cool completely.

Lift the front and rear of the vehicle with a jack. Support the vehicle with two sets of jack stands.

Remove the transmission shift cable bracket bolts with a wrench. Pull the shift cable bracket off of the transmission.

Place a catch pan under the transmission pan. Remove the front and side transmission oil pan bolts with a wrench. Loosen the rear pan bolts about four turns with a wrench.

Tap lightly sideways on the transmission pan with a rubber hammer. Use caution to avoid deforming the pan body and the pan mounting flange. Knock the pan loose from the transmission gently, allowing it to drop slightly and drain into the catch pan. Allow the fluid to drain completely.

Remove the remaining bolts by hand and lower the pan away from the transmission. Pour the remaining fluid into the catch pan.

Pull the transmission filter down and out of the transmission by hand. Ensure that the filter gasket was removed with the filter. Remove the filter gasket from the filter port with a finger or ratchet handle, if necessary.

Scrape the pan gasket from the pan and the pan's mount surface on the transmission with a gasket scraper. Wipe the gasket surfaces and the pan interior with a clean shop rag. Remove any gasket material or residue from the pan.

Apply a layer of Transjel or equivalent to the new filter seal. Insert the seal into the transmission port. Slide the new filter into the port and seal until it bottoms out on the transmission.

Place the new transmission pan gasket onto the pan. Lift the pan into place against the transmission and install the pan bolts. Tighten the pan bolts to 12 foot-pounds with a 3/8-inch torque wrench.

Install the shift cable bracket and bolts onto the transmission. Torque the bolts to 12 ft. lbs. with a 3/8-inch torque wrench.

Raise the vehicle with a jack and remove the jack stands. Lower the vehicle to the ground.

Add Dexron III transmission fluid or equivalent through the transmission dipstick tube to the proper level as indicated by the dipstick. Start the engine and check for leaks around the transmission pan. Recheck the fluid level and add as indicated by the dipstick. Do not overfill the transmission.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Wrench set

  • Catch pan

  • Rubber hammer

  • Gasket scraper

  • Shop rag

  • Transjel or equivalent

  • New filter and filter gasket

  • New pan gasket

  • 3/8-inch torque wrench

  • Socket set

  • Dexron III transmission fluid or equivalent

 How to Replace the Transmission Fluid in a 2005 Equinox

Out With the Old

Locate the front jacking points. There is an arrow on the plastic lower body panel, to the rear of each front wheel opening. Position the floor jack under the jacking flange indicated by the arrow, and not under the plastic panel itself. Lift that side of the Equinox and place a jack stand under the frame lifting point 12 inches inboard from the jacking flange. Lower the vehicle onto the jack stand. Repeat for the other side.

Find the transmission drain bolt at the bottom of the transmission, near the bell housing. Place the drain pan underneath and remove the drain bolt with a ratchet and socket. Pull the gasket from the drain bolt and throw it away. Allow the fluid to drain for at least five minutes.

Clean the drain bolt and install a new gasket. Thread the bolt in by hand and tighten it to 29 foot-pounds with a torque wrench. Remove the drain pan and lower the Equinox to the ground.

In With the New

Find the fluid level indicator behind the front transaxle mount. It looks like a dipstick secured by a flange with a bolt through it. Be sure you're looking at the flange bolt, and not the anchor band bolt on top of the transmission. If you remove the anchor bolt it will cause damage you'll need to remove the transmission to repair.

Remove the flange bolt and the fluid level indicator. Use the long-neck funnel to add 4 quarts of T-IV fluid through the hole.

Start the engine and allow it to idle up to operating temperature. With your foot on the brake, move the shift lever from Park through every gear, pausing three or four seconds in each gear, and back to Park.

With the engine still running, use the level indicator as a dipstick to check the fluid level. If the fluid isn't within the "Hot" range, add fluid, a little at a time, to bring it into range. It should take about 4.25 quarts total. If you put too much in so it's above the "Hot" range, you'll have to drain the excess fluid, so be careful.

Turn the engine off. Replace the level indicator and tighten the flange bolt to 89 inch-pounds.

Dispose of the used fluid responsibly. Take it to a recycling center, service station or auto parts store for acceptance.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • 2 jack stands

  • Ratchet and metric sockets

  • Shop rags

  • New drain bolt gasket

  • Torque wrench

  • Clean transmission (long-neck) funnel

  • 5 quarts GM T-IV transmission fluid

 How to Change Transmission Fluid on an Impala

Removing the Transmission Pan

Start the engine and let it idle for four minutes. This will help to remove as much loose particles from the transmission as possible.

Turn off the engine. Raise the front of the vehicle using a floor jack, and support the vehicle with two jack stands.

Apply the emergency brakes and block the rear wheels with two wooden blocks.

Place a large drain pan underneath the transmission pan.

Loosen the front and side mounting bolts from the transmission pan using a crisscross pattern. Then remove the bolts. Use a ratchet, ratchet extension and socket.

Loosen the rear mounting bolts from the transmission pan about 4 turns each.

Pry the transmission pan open at the front using a screwdriver and let the oil drain onto the drain pan.

Hold the transmission pan from underneath, using a shop rag as you remove the remaining pan mounting bolts.

Separate the transmission pan from the transmission, and tilt it over the drain pan to remove the remaining oil. Discard the transmission pan gasket.

Installing the Transmission Pan

Clean the transmission pan with spray carburetor cleaner and a shop rag.

Install a new gasket over the transmission pan flange.

Set the transmission pan in place and start the pan mounting bolts by hand.

Start tightening the transmission pan bolts in a crisscross pattern, a little at a time, until all the bolts are tight. Use the ratchet, ratchet extension and socket. Just tighten the bolts enough to create a seal between the pan and the transmission to avoid damaging the pan gasket.

Lower the car and remove the wooden blocks from the rear tires.

Fill the transmission with the right amount of transmission fluid recommended by your car manufacturer. Look up this information on your car owner's manual, check with your local dealer or auto parts store. Pour the oil through the transmission-oil dipstick tube using a large funnel.

Start the engine and shift the transmission through all the gears and back to Park. Let the engine idle for four minutes.

Check the transmission fluid with the engine running. The oil level on the dipstick should be between the Low and Full marks. Add if necessary.

Turn off the engine.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • 2 Jack stands

  • 2 Wooden blocks

  • Ratchet and socket

  • Ratchet extension

  • Screwdriver

  • Shop rag

  • Spray carburetor cleaner

  • New transmission pan gasket

  • New transmission fluid

  • Large funnel

 How to Change the Transmission Fluid in a Cobalt LS

Raise your transmission fluid's temperature by driving your Cobalt for approximately 10 to 20 minutes before beginning the fluid replacement.

Turn your car off but leave the keys in place, since you will need to start it again when you put the new fluid into the transmission.

Jack your car up using a car jack, supported by two stands on the left and two stands on the right sides of the car near the inner side of each tire.

Stand back from your car and evaluate whether or not the car is perfectly level. If your vehicle appears level, you can proceed to the next step. If not, keep adjusting the car jack and stands until the car is evenly horizontal with the ground beneath it. A tilted car could mean hot transmission fluid hazards.

Go under your car and locate the square, metal transmission pan. This is identifiable not only by shape but by the numerous bolts that secure it to the transmission area, near the driver's side of your car.

Place your drip pan under the transmission pan, as a catch for the fluid that will begin pouring out in the next step.

Unscrew the transmission pan's side cap, known as a drain plug. You may need to use your socket wrench in order to loosen the cap if it is particularly tight. The fluid will begin draining into the drip pan and could take as long as 10 minutes to empty completely.

Use your socket wrench to loosen the other bolts that keep the transmission pan mounted under your car.

Clean the entire transmission pan using a small amount of degreaser on your wet rag. This is important because residue from the old fluid could contaminate the new fluid, creating problems earlier than necessary after the fluid change.

Tighten the bolts back onto the transmission pan, making sure that there are no cracks or crevices where transmission fluid could leak out once it is full again.

Remove all four jack stands from under each side of your car and lower the jack stand slowly and cautiously.

Raise the hood of your car and identify the fill port on top of your transmission unit.

Open the fill port using your fingers just like a bottle cap. If the cap is difficult to turn, use a pair of pliers for an extra-firm grip.

Position the funnel downward so that the fluid will enter directly into the fill port.

Engage your emergency brake to prevent accidental rolling of your vehicle.

Start your ignition so that the car is warming and the new fluid will flow freely through the transmission as you pour it in.

Pour the first quart of Dexron transmission fluid into your transmission's fill port.

Put your foot on the brake pedal and shift the gears of your car slowly from park to neutral, reverse and drive, in no particular order. This will push the new fluid around the transmission's various parts, so that each component is adequately lubricated.

Pour the other quart of transmission fluid into the funnel with the car in "park."

Shift the transmission's gears with your foot on the brake once more, and the fluid should be completely lubricating the entire transmission system at this point.

Replace the transmission's fill port cap and close the hood to finalize the successful transmission fluid change.

Items you will need

  • Drip pan

  • Safety goggles

  • Work gloves

  • Funnel

  • 2 quarts Dexron transmission fluid

  • Adjustable socket wrench

  • Wet shop rag

  • Degreaser

  • Standard pliers

 How to Change the Transmission Fluid on a 2006 Chevy Trailblazer

Raise the front of the truck off the ground with a jack. Position a set of jack stands under the front suspension to support the truck then remove the jack for now.

Position a wide oil drain pan under the transmission then remove the retaining bolts from the front and sides of the transmission oil pan. Loosen the bolts along the rear of the pan far enough to allow the front of the pan to hang down, letting the transmission fluid drain from the pan.

Remove the rear bolts once all the fluid has drained from the pan and lower the pan down from the transmission. Clean any debris or particles of dirt from the transmission old pan and remove the old gasket from the pan and mounting surface on the transmission with a gasket scraper.

Install a new gasket on the mounting surface of the transmission oil pan and raise it up to the bottom of the transmission. Install the mounting bolts in the four corners of the pan to support it. Install the remaining bolts in the transmission pan and tighten them all evenly with a socket and ratchet.

Support the front of your Trailblazer with a jack and remove the jack stands from under the truck. Lower the front of your Trailblazer to the ground and open the hood. Locate the dipstick for the transmission fluid near the firewall on the passenger’s side of the engine compartment.

Remove the transmission dipstick from the dipstick/filler tub and insert a funnel into the tube. Fill the transmission with Dextron VI automatic transmission fluid. Start with two to three quarts then start the truck and allow it to run in park until it reaches normal operating temperature.

Insert the dipstick into the tub then pull the dipstick out and check the fluid level. If the level is not up to the section that reads “hot”, add more transmission fluid, wipe the dipstick clean with a rag and insert the it back into the tube then remove it to recheck the level.

Continue adding transmission fluid until the level shows full on the dipstick. Close the hood and drive the truck normally. Recheck the transmission fluid level in a few days.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Oil drain pan

  • Socket set

  • Ratchet

  • Gasket scraper

  • Clean rag

  • Funnel

 How to Change the Transmission Fluid in the 2001 Chevy Prizm

Check the level and color of the transmission fluid in the 2001 Chevy Prizm before adding new or changing out the old fluid. In a healthy transmission, the fluid is bright pink or red. The transmission fluid dipstick is under the hood of the Prizm. It is toward the back of the engine and has a dipstick with a ring at the end to use to pull the stick out.

Set the car in park and let the Prizm idle until the engine gets hot and the transmission fluid is warm. Find the transmission dipstick and brush off any dirt and grime in the area. Pull the dipstick out and wipe it off with a clean cloth. Reinsert the dipstick and pull it out again.

Look to see if the color of the fluid is pinkish red or a dark, burnt color. Pinkish red is good; a dark, burnt color means the transmission fluid is old and there might be other problems.

Read the level of transmission fluid by looking for the mark indicating the right level of transmission fluid when the vehicle is running hot. Ring and gasket cracks can make the fluid low in the transmission. Too much fluid is just as dangerous, because overfilling adds pressure on the gaskets and rings. It is good to know what the level is before you change the fluid so you can look for other issues while the fluid pan is off during changing.

Hoist the vehicle off the ground with a mechanical lift if one is available.This way, you can stand in the service pit and the transmission fluid can drain completely into a safety container without a messy spill. If a hoist is not available, use drive-up metal ramps. Block off the back tires so the Prizm doesn't roll backward. Set the emergency brake by pushing it all the way to the floorboard.

Find the transmission drain pan under the Prizm. There is an oil drain pan underneath the vehicle also. The transmission oil pan is on the same side of the vehicle as the transmission dipstick and directly underneath the dipstick.

Push a large safety container designed for fluid disposal under the drain pan. Loosen the bolt on the pan, one side at a time. The drain pan will drop sideways and hold the transmission fluid so it doesn't gush out. After removing all bolts, tap the edge of the drain pan with a rubber mallet. This tapping breaks the seal around the pan. Half of the transmission fluid pours out after the seal is broken.

Hold the drain pan level and dump the pan into the safety container. Wipe the drain pan out with a clean cloth. Pick out any old gasket material stuck to the edges of the pan from the seal. You might have to scrape the gasket material off with a utility knife. Spray brake cleaner on the drain pan and bolts; wipe them off with a clean cloth. Do not use soap and water.

Twist the screws off the old filter. This filter is round and designed to keep out debris from the transmission fluid. Do not try to clean it and reuse it. A new filter costs less than $10 and is well worth the cost. Search for the O-ring and make sure it is seated properly. The O-ring is under the filter on the suction side. The ring sits in place and the oil filter keeps it there. Screw on a new filter.

Rub gasket maker on the edge of the drain pan and place the gasket on top. Slide the bolts in the holes of the drain pan and wait 15 minutes for the gasket maker to dry. Gasket maker comes in a 6- to 8-inch tube. Squeeze the glue out of the tube with hand pressure.

Jump down into the service pit with the drain pan and lift the pan up to the bottom of the vehicle, aligning the bolts with the holes. Screw the bolts in by hand and then tighten with a wrench. The gasket will stick to the metal of the car, creating a tight fit devoid of any leaks of fluid. The bolts are made of aluminum, so do not overtighten or they will break off.

Fill the transmission back up with fluid from under the hood. Lower the Prizm off the hoist first, lift the hood and pour 3 to 4 quarts of transmission fluid into the dipstick hole. Insert the dipstick and read how close the fluid is to the cold line. Keep pouring transmission fluid into the dipstick holder until the cold level line is covered. Start the car, let it idle in park until the engine is warm and then recheck the transmission fluid. Add fluid as needed until the hot level line and the transmission fluid are equal. Recheck the transmission fluid after 24 hours and before driving.

Items you will need

  • Transmission fluid & filter

  • Gasket maker

  • Fluid pan

  • Clean cloths

  • Socket wrench set

  • Screwdriver set

  • Safety disposal container

  • Rubber mallet

  • Hoist (mechanical lift)

  • Transmission fluid dipstick

  • Utility knife

  • Spray brake cleaner

 How to Change the Transmission Fluid in a 1999 Chevy Malibu

Drive the car for 5 to 10 minutes and park it on level ground. Raise the front of the car up on a pair of jacks to reach the undercarriage of the engine easily. Slide underneath the car and locate the gear box, which is in the center of the engine, slightly off to the driver's side.

Place the 5-qt. pan underneath the drain bolt, which is located on the pipe in the front of the gearbox.

Remove the fill plug and the drain plug with the socket wrench. Wait until all the fluid stops draining from the gear box into the pan. Replace the drain plug.

Place the plastic tube of the fluid pump into the fill plug and squeeze 4 qts. of transmission fluid into the gear box. The fluid should begin to drip from the plug when it's full. Replace the fill plug with the socket wrench.

Lower the car from the jacks.

Items you will need

  • Pair of jacks

  • 5-qt. pan

  • 1/2-inch socket wrench

  • Fluid pump

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.