My '98 Malibu (79,000 miles) is slow to shift in cold weather until
it's warmed up. I suspect the transmission fluid is low. The
transmission is a closed system with no dip stick.
Could a competent gas station mechanic check this out, or do I have to
take it to a dealer? The local Chevy dealer has closed up shop, and
next nearest one isn't very convenient.
Here is a good answer I found (it is for a 2000 Malibu, but should apply to
yours as well):
Whenever I change the oil on my wife's 2000 Chev Malibu 3.1 L checking the
transmission oil level is a must since there is no dipstick to check the oil
level with. The MOTOR oil is hot to change the oil in the motor. Driving the
car up on ramps alters the level a bit as does the trans fluid at 200
degrees instead of the recommended 100 degrees. Let the car idle while you
slide cardboard, newspaper, a flex socket wrench with a deep 7/16 inch six
point socket. Set both the Park at the transmission gear selector and the
parking brake, and put blocks behind and in front of the rear tires before
you climb underneath the car. Cars roll off of jacks, ramps and whatever
enables mechanics to get underneath. Before changing the motor oil while the
engine is at a slow idle, using a six point 7/16 wrench turn the plug on the
passenger side of the transmission counter clockwise looking down at the top
of the bolt/inspection plug. If oil runs out put the plug right back in. If
not add about four ounces at a time.
To add fluid, remove the red add fluid cap is on top of the chain/side cover
which is underneath the exhaust crossover in front of the air valve. I used
a turkey baster with the bulb removed and used a funnel into the baster
which I placed into the add fluid hole after removing the red add fluid cap.
While it is a better to have one person adding fluid while the other is
underneath yelling stop when the fluid starts to run out of the inspection
hole, I added 4 oz at a time and may have a slightly overfilled
transmission. Although the car is not level, if you have fluid at normal
operation temperature, the expansion of the fluid will compensate for the
overfill due to the rear of the car being lower than the front.
After removing the motor oil and filter, spray some engine degreaser on the
side of the motor and transmission to remove dirt and to make finding future
leaks and pinpoint their location.
If you do not have a leak and are not losing transmission fluid the time to
check the fluid level adds less than five minutes to your oil change. If you
have to remove the fill plug and add fluid after finding or buying Dextron
III transmission oil, you may add 15 - 30 minutes to the oil change.
The exhaust crossover pipe is several hundred degrees even at idle. A bright
flashlight is helpful to find leaks when lying on the ground underneath the
car and oil pans.
Thanks for the info. About 14 months ago (January '08), I brought it
in to Chevy for the same problem. They changed the Transmission fluid
and filter and said they saw no leaks. The problem went away
completely after that, until this winter.
If treating the symptom lets me get another year or two out of the
tranny, that works for me.
You should get the fluid changed every year and the tranny filter gets
changed at the same time. Not changing the fluid once in a while is
inviting trouble. What's it cost in your area? Here a tranny fluid and
filter is about $45. once a year.
Art Harris wrote:
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