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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I recently purchased an '05 with 78k that hadn't had any fluids replaced except regular oil changes. I've done front/rear diffs, transfer and brakes (I've also cleaned TB and replaced on brake pads). I have trans and PS left to do (and I guess I'll look into coolant as well). Looking to do transmission next and haven't decided on method. The color and smell of the fluid look fine from the dipstick. Light in color. Chris Fix has a video where he shows "good", "needs replaced" and "bad fluid" colors on paper towels. Mine matches the good.

I've watched some videos on doing a change while having the vehicle pump out the old fluid through the cooler line. I watched the video and feel I could accomplish this but that's if all goes well and it feels like a lot more risk than just dropping the pan. And since I'm still pretty new to working on cars, I'd like to minimize risk when possible. What are you opinions? Given that the fluid still looks light, would it be ok to just change the few quarts in the pan? How long should that get me until the next change should be done?

I had considered replacing the pan with a Dorman that has a drain pug but there were a lot of bad reviews about the plug leaking and defective stamping of the rim of the pan which might cause leaking.

The one part I've been dreading is dropping the pan. I make a mess with fluid changes as it is, so I know I'll take a bath in this stuff. So this is what I'm thinking... I found bolts that are the same as the pan bolt but much longer. I am going to put them close to the 4 corners before taking the rest of the bolts out. I am going to have nuts on these longer bolts so that they will hold the pan up when all the other bolts are out. Then I will turn the nuts on these longer bolt evenly until there is enough gap to get my suction gun hose inside the pan and start sucking out fluid. I'll then adjust the nuts to tilt the pan and suck as much out as I can. Then drop the pan without quarts of fluid sloshing out of it. Sound like a decent plan or is there some flaw I'm not seeing?
 

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2004 gmc envoy_slt
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You can also extract the fluid thru the fill tube using a long piece of rubber tubing attached to a Harbor Freight electric pump.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
You can also extract the fluid thru the fill tube using a long piece of rubber tubing attached to a Harbor Freight electric pump.
It depends on what it costs. Which product are you referring to?

I'm looking to keep my auto costs down now. Just recently spent a lot, mostly on fluids and tools I'll use once or twice. Money well spent but if I could achieve it with what I already have, I'd like to try.

What diameter tubing would fit down the dipstick? I could maybe just buy some tubing and do it with the suction gun.
 

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2006 gmc trailblazer_ls
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The cooler line method is quick and easy. I did it by myself. I had bucket with my clear hose hooked up to disconnected line and had it close to driverside door. When it started to sputter i shut envoy off and let it drain a min then took my clear hose off and reconnected cooler line. Then filled with fluid. Half hour tops. Plus my trans had 149,000 and had never been changed.


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Discussion Starter #5
The cooler line method is quick and easy. I did it by myself. I had bucket with my clear hose hooked up to disconnected line and had it close to driverside door. When it started to sputter i shut envoy off and let it drain a min then took my clear hose off and reconnected cooler line. Then filled with fluid. Half hour tops. Plus my trans had 149,000 and had never been changed.


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I'm reading conflicting reports about letting it get to the point of sputtering. Some have said you need to pour it in as quickly as it comes out but this comes out so quickly you can't really keep up. Others say it's fine in park to let it get to the point where it can't pump anymore. But then others said that's hard on the pump.

The one that made most sense to me was to drop the pan first. Then put back in what came out in the pan + 2 quarts and start the vehicle with the cooler line hose going into a bucket marked off by quart. Once you're at 1.5 quarts, shut it off and add more. Keep doing that until fluid runs new.

I just really don't want to mess something up trying to fix something that isn't broken. I'm good at that.
 

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2006 gmc trailblazer_ls
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I'm reading conflicting reports about letting it get to the point of sputtering. Some have said you need to pour it in as quickly as it comes out but this comes out so quickly you can't really keep up. Others say it's fine in park to let it get to the point where it can't pump anymore. But then others said that's hard on the pump.



The one that made most sense to me was to drop the pan first. Then put back in what came out in the pan + 2 quarts and start the vehicle with the cooler line hose going into a bucket marked off by quart. Once you're at 1.5 quarts, shut it off and add more. Keep doing that until fluid runs new.



I just really don't want to mess something up trying to fix something that isn't broken. I'm good at that.


It shouldn’t hurt it if as soon as it starts sputtering you shut it off. But if your really concerned about it start it let it pump for a lil and then shut it off. Then top it off. Only reason i didn’t change my filter is because i have a 5.3 and everywhere i read and from me looking id have to drop the exhaust to remove pan and i just didn’t feel like messing with that headache. So i just went with easy and quick which was the cooler line. Works like a champ. Just do 2 sessions. Start it let it pump for a lil bit then hook back up snd fill it. Drive it for a few weeks then do it again.


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Discussion Starter #7
It shouldn’t hurt it if as soon as it starts sputtering you shut it off. But if your really concerned about it start it let it pump for a lil and then shut it off. Then top it off. Only reason i didn’t change my filter is because i have a 5.3 and everywhere i read and from me looking id have to drop the exhaust to remove pan and i just didn’t feel like messing with that headache. So i just went with easy and quick which was the cooler line. Works like a champ. Just do 2 sessions. Start it let it pump for a lil bit then hook back up snd fill it. Drive it for a few weeks then do it again.


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Yeah, I'd skip it too if I had to do that. I'm pretty set on dropping the pan but will do some more research to be setup for the cooler flush as well. How many quarts you end up using on the first flush? I'd hate to not have enough when I'm in the middle of it.
 

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2006 gmc trailblazer_ls
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Im not exactly sure how much. I had kinda did it for a few seconds then dumped in 2qts, then started back up and let it go till it sputtered. I had a case on hand and few extra bottles. Stuff i use is same stuff i do drain and fills once a year on my wifes sienna with so having extra wasnt an issue. I used valvoline max life. I bought 3 gallon containers then a few extra qts


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I work for a government fleet repair shop and I will tell you what we do on our vehicles as well as my personal vehicles. First invest in a fluid extractor : https://www.amazon.com/Mityvac-07400-Automotive-Accessories/dp/B000JFJM14/ref=asc_df_B000JFJM14/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312177448019&hvpos=1o3&hvnetw=g&hvrand=5669500731857512615&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1013659&hvtargid=aud-801738734305:pla-627395052712&psc=1&tag=&ref=&adgrpid=61495038909&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvadid=312177448019&hvpos=1o3&hvnetw=g&hvrand=5669500731857512615&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1013659&hvtargid=aud-801738734305:pla-627395052712

78K I would drop the pan and do a fluid and filter swap. I would purchase an AC Delco trans. filter kit and skip the cheap stuff. Use the fluid extractor to remove the fluid before you drop the pan. Drop the pan and filter and allow it to drip for a little while just so you don't take an ATF shower during the install. Running the fluid out of the cooler lines is a waste of time just use the fluid extractor again after a tank of gas if your fluid was discolored. I extract my fluid every 15k miles and have 200k on most of my original transmissions. I will add fluid just doesn't go from good to bad overnight it is best to change fluids even if they look great based on mileage / use intervals.
 

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For the cooler line method you literally just need fluid. You dont have to buy any special tools. Yes pan drop and filter change is ideal but mine has 150,000 on it and ive put 2k since cooler line method and it shifts great. I just didnt feel like buying extra stuff for all i wanted was a fluid change. But ideally you want to change all fluid and drop pan and change filter too.


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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
I've decided to drop the pan and replace it with the Dorman that has a drain plug and do a few more drain and fills. Hopefully I don't regret it. Anyway, my longer bolt method didn't work as well as in my head but did at least keep me from making a giant mess. More ran out of the seam than I was expecting once it was loose. But then once that was done dripping, I was able to lower the front of the pan onto the longer bolts so that it created a gap that allowed my suction gun hose in. Once the suction gun was sucking air, I removed the bolts and dropped the pan to find nearly no fluid in there. I think I'll use this method again but will be more ready for how it's going to come out once the bolts are being loosened. I'm wondering if it was overfilled though as that didn't happen on the videos I watched.

Right now it's being left overnight to drip while I wait for delivery of the filter/gasket tomorrow.

The magnet had a nice thick layer of sludge but no visible metal at all so that was good to see. I did have to wrestle the pan out a little but wasn't bad and I did a dry run of getting it back up there and that went much more smoothly. I was then reading about someone who broke a solenoid wrestling the pan out/in. So I went out and looked under mine and almost had a heart attack when I found the rear passenger side solenoid with a good bit of play and twisted a little cockeyed. But then I searched online and while I could only find two times the looseness was answered, it was said to be normal. I found reference to one being tight because it is spring loaded and the other isn't so it has play. Then I watched a video where a guy was replacing his and he got out the passenger side one fine but then when it took out the driver's side, something shot out. It also looks like the passenger one is cockeyed in at least one pan change video I watched. So hopefully all is well with mine.

Any advice on how much fluid I should put in before starting it to check level? I tried to keep track of what came out but that quickly got away from me with spillage and the suction gun only getting partial suck up sometimes. I have a gallon + 2 quarts of Max Life.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Job is finished up and everything seems ok. Will be a while before I can tell if there is any seeping around the gasket because of the mess I made under there. Man, this MaxLife ATF smells bad. Like diff oil. The ATF that was in there originally had the usual ATF smell I'm use to. I had to recheck the bottle to make sure I actually ordered ATF.

My old fluid actually looked pretty much as good as the new I was putting in so probably didn't need done but that's fine. Better than waiting too long. I'm glad to have a new filter in and this way I can just drain and fill and keep it good.

Thanks. I ended up putting 5 quarts in. Started by putting just less than the full gallon bottle and sometimes it was reading high then low, then I'd put more in and it would be high and then just barely on the stick. I was idling at operating temperature when doing all this. Once I had 4.5 quarts added in, then I went through the gears and that dropped the level again so I added the other half then drove around town real quick and it was at just slightly above the hot dot.

Cleanup took longer than the job.
 

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2006 gmc trailblazer_ls
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Glad to hear all went well. I had changed all fluid thru cooler line method and didn’t change filter or pan gasket. My original fluid had 149,000 miles and was brown. So i should have changed filter too but im just glad i got new fluid in and it shifts so much smoother. I bought this 1 1/2yrs ago and that was last fluid needing changed. But all glad it worked out for ya. If i ever end up changing filter ill put the dorman pan on as well to get the drain plug. Thats what i do with my wifes sienna. It has a factory drain plug and i do a drain and fill once a year.


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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks. It's good to have it out of the way. I've changed all the fluids now except power steering and coolant. Dealer replaced the water pump last year before I bought it so I'm guessing/hoping they put in new coolant. It looks quite good and no gunk or floaters or anything in the tank so I'm thinking they did put in new for whatever amount they lost. I'd read that some places clamp off the hose so only a tiny amount is lost and some pour the old coolant back in. But would a dealer really do that on a 14 year old vehicle they are servicing? My father no longer has the receipt and he thinks they said they put in new coolant but can't remember. Next time I'm in the area, I might stop in and see if they have record of what was done.

If my ATF looked brown, I'd have done the cooler flush as well. I had been reading up on it and watching videos to prepare myself but once I saw how good the old fluid looked, I decide to just do the pan drop which I was doing either way. My wife's Forester has a plug. The dealer did a "diagnostic flush" 2 years ago when there was a small leak so it's new fluid but the filter is the original with 140k on it. I just can't bring myself to tackle the pan dropping with 2 year old fluid in there and everything running fine.

I like the Dorman pan so far. Feels sturdy. I transferred the magnet from the old one. A lot of people said they used a nylon gasket to replace the metal one that came with it but I didn't think ahead to buy one so I have the metal one on there. No leaking yet. I went with GM filter and gasket.
 

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You did good using metal gasket. They tend to not leak. And yeh power steering i just changed Mine. I just sucked out fluid from resovior and then filled with new and then drove a week then repeated it and all fresh now. But anyways keep us updated on that pan. Ive heard mixed reviews about it. Let us know for sure


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Discussion Starter #17
Yeah, that's what I plan for the power steering as well.

Will give updates on the pan. I read a lot of really good reviews (as well as some bad- mostly about bad batch(es) with stamping error and some leaking drains) but a number of them said they went with a nylon gasket so I didn't know how much that affected their leak potential. Some who complained of a leak said the drain plug didn't sit evenly to the pan when torqued down. I didn't see anything like that. Mine looked even all around so maybe that's the difference and something to look for if you buy one. One thing I didn't like was the threads were rough. I put the plug in and out a few times and got some metal shavings and it was not going in/out totally very smoothly. After doing this a few times it felt better but not totally smooth. The old pan magnet is actually a donut and fits around the drain plug in the Doorman which is in the same spot as where the magnet was in the old pan. So I figure at least anymore metal shavings from the plug will be grabbed by the magnet (or maybe flushed out the drain by the fluid if it's in the threads). It's not like I'll be pulling this drain many times so I'm not worried about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Here with an update on the Dorman pan. It's not been great. I ran into the leak issue I have seen a number of reviews complain about. I drove it that day after putting the pan on and it was totally dry when I checked it after pulling it. I checked it again later and was good. Then that evening I checked it and there was a slight seep starting. I had torqued to the 20 ft lbs recommended by Dorman. So I backed it off and this time tried just tightening it until it felt snug. It stopped the seeping for about a week. So then I tightened it more but didn't want to go crazy on it. That didn't help and it was seeping enough to keep the drain plug glistening. Well, now I looked out there and about a 4" radius around the plug is clean while the rest of the pan is dirty and if I wipe my finger across the plug, it gets fluid on it. But it never drips and there's been no fluid loss. I actually filled back in slightly too much so I'm fine if it loses some anyway but of course I don't want my pan leaking. As long as it's not dripping, I'm going to wait until the spring and do another drain/fill. I'll put on a rubber/metal washer I bought. I know that's not really the best kind to use normally but I've read people having luck stopping this pan from leaking with them.

It really is a great thing to have a drain plug (stupid it didn't come with one in the first place), but not if it's going to leak. I'd have gladly paid twice as much if they'd manufacture a pan with a reliable plug.

Also, I have to say I'm very disappointed in Dorman. I sent a polite e-mail describing my issue with the pan and was completely ignored. So I can't recommend this pan at all. Unfortunately, looking around, the only other brand I saw looked exactly like this one and was around the same price. So I have to believe it's the same poorly designed plug.
 

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Here with an update on the Dorman pan. It's not been great. I ran into the leak issue I have seen a number of reviews complain about. I drove it that day after putting the pan on and it was totally dry when I checked it after pulling it. I checked it again later and was good. Then that evening I checked it and there was a slight seep starting. I had torqued to the 20 ft lbs recommended by Dorman. So I backed it off and this time tried just tightening it until it felt snug. It stopped the seeping for about a week. So then I tightened it more but didn't want to go crazy on it. That didn't help and it was seeping enough to keep the drain plug glistening. Well, now I looked out there and about a 4" radius around the plug is clean while the rest of the pan is dirty and if I wipe my finger across the plug, it gets fluid on it. But it never drips and there's been no fluid loss. I actually filled back in slightly too much so I'm fine if it loses some anyway but of course I don't want my pan leaking. As long as it's not dripping, I'm going to wait until the spring and do another drain/fill. I'll put on a rubber/metal washer I bought. I know that's not really the best kind to use normally but I've read people having luck stopping this pan from leaking with them.

It really is a great thing to have a drain plug (stupid it didn't come with one in the first place), but not if it's going to leak. I'd have gladly paid twice as much if they'd manufacture a pan with a reliable plug.

Also, I have to say I'm very disappointed in Dorman. I sent a polite e-mail describing my issue with the pan and was completely ignored. So I can't recommend this pan at all. Unfortunately, looking around, the only other brand I saw looked exactly like this one and was around the same price. So I have to believe it's the same poorly designed plug.
Sorry your having issues. But thats definitely the reason i never pulled the trigger on it. Just didnt want to deal with it leaking. Let us know if your washer fixes it. I agree i wish factory would have had one. I love that my wifes sienna has factory one. I do it once a year just drain and then fill. Has been great. Thanks for the update


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Sorry your having issues. But thats definitely the reason i never pulled the trigger on it. Just didnt want to deal with it leaking. Let us know if your washer fixes it. I agree i wish factory would have had one. I love that my wifes sienna has factory one. I do it once a year just drain and then fill. Has been great. Thanks for the update


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Yeah, my wife's Forester has a plug too. But trying to get a consistent read on the dipstick for proper level on that one is a nightmare. I don't know if the Subaru fluid is much more susceptible to heat expansion or being splashed around and sticking to the sides while driving or what, but I can watch the fluid rising up the stick with each pull once I've pulled into the garage and keep it idling. It can start out below the low hot line and end up above hot full line within a couple minutes of idling after I pull in so I never know which reading to go with. So I've just decided to drive it a half hour, jump out and hurry up and do one check and if it's within the hot range, I go with it. The Trailblazer was very easy for me in that regard. Level would stay put while it idled and every time I check it after driving, it's in the same place.

I'll report back after trying a new washer.
 
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