How-To: Transmission Oil Cooler Line - replacement and fluid refill - Chevy Malibu Forum: Chevrolet Malibu Forums
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-18-2013, 07:40 AM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb How-To: Transmission Oil Cooler Line - replacement and fluid refill

So when I was checking out my Malibu for its long weekend excursion, I discovered that the lower transmission oil cooler line (lower on the cooler, that is) is leaking slightly from the top of the rubber piece. I presume this thing needs to be replaced as a unit; is this a big involved job, and what other things need to be replaced along with the line? I thought I read in one of the threads around here about seals and gaskets, what additional parts do I need besides the line?
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-18-2013, 07:54 AM
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Re: Transmission Oil Cooler Line

Some people have just cut the line where it is metal and slid flexible rubber transmission line over what is left of the OE fittings and used hose clamps. Faster, cheaper and simple.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-18-2013, 07:59 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Transmission Oil Cooler Line

Well, at 75k miles, I was thinking now would be an opportune time to go ahead and change the fluid, so I'm already planning on a project day. It is a good idea, though.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-26-2013, 03:13 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Transmission Oil Cooler Line

HOW TO: Replace the transmission oil cooler line

Things you will need:
  • 3/8" quick connect tool OR
  • a tool capable of extracting the quick connect retainer (I used a small Allen wrench with the short end sharpened to a point).
  • A new 3/8" quick connect retaining ring; O'Reilly Auto Parts sells packages of mixed sizes.
  • A new transmission oil cooler line. It comes with the seal and the retaining clips. I ordered this from Rock Auto.
  • A 13mm socket.

On the transmission side, the procedure is fairly simple. Shown is an image of my 2010 Malibu's 6T40 transmission; your transmission may look different, but the general principle is the same. You remove a nut from the transmission and the line can be extracted with a light force.



In between the transmission and the radiator are two clips. One is a plastic retainer that holds the metal lines to the transmission. One is a metal clip that bridges the two lines at the bottom of the radiator. I didn't take images of these, but they're retaining clips, you should be able to figure out how to release them.

On the radiator side, that's when things get a little more tricky. The quick connect fitting is covered by a plastic ring; this ring simply pulls off the fitting and slides up the line. The quick connect fitting has a retaining ring, and the line has a flare in it that clicks into this retainer but doesn't click back out. To remove, you can use your quick connect tool if you have one, but if you don't, all is not lost! Take your improvised extraction tool; the objective is to pull against one of the open ends of the retaining ring, as if you were rotating the retaining ring in its groove in the fitting. If you succeed, the ring will pop out of position and can be extracted completely with a screwdriver. Removal and installation instructions for the retaining rings can be found here.

Shown is a close-up of one of the quick connect fittings; you should be able to make out the groove in which the retaining ring is sitting.



As a side note, on my '10 Malibu, the lower transmission cooler line is difficult to access, but not impossible; all of the above operations can be performed from the top. You might want to practice working tools with your left hand, if you are of the right-handed persuasion. Once both ends of the line are disconnected and the line has been removed from the retainers, extracting it is a matter of manipulating it free from all the electrical connections around the battery box. Installation is the reverse of removal; note that a new retaining ring must be fitted to the quick connect fitting before fitting the line into it, and I highly recommend doing this before even inserting the new line into the engine compartment.

Shown is an image of the old line after it had been removed. You can see the plastic cover for the quick connect fitting on the right and the inter-line bracing clip. The chassis clip I reused. The seal is still on the end that went into the transmission, on the left.


Last edited by thedopefishlives; 12-26-2013 at 03:59 PM.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-26-2013, 03:26 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Transmission Oil Cooler Line

HOW TO: Drain and level-check the transmission fluid on the 6T40 transmission

Things you will need:
  • An 11mm socket and handle
  • An oil pan capable of holding up to 2 gallons (probably slight overkill)
  • Some way to get the car up in the air, level (I used jack stands under the jack points)

Shown in this first image is the transmission drain plug. It is an 11mm bolt in the underside of the transmission; this picture was taken from below the car. The engine is to the left in this picture, and the frame rail is on the right-hand side of the image.



To drain the transmission fluid, place your pan under the plug (duh) and pull it. Remove the filler cap. You don't want to do this completely cold, but this fluid can get quite hot (and it will, later) so don't do it immediately after extended driving. Unless you have a major leak, you'll want to make note of how much came out, as that's about how much should go back in. I simply put 5 quarts back in, and used the level check process to remove the extra.

To check the level, you need to access the level check bolt. It is shown in the following image. This shot is taken from the driver's side front wheel well, looking toward the engine compartment. NOTE: THIS PLUG GOES INTO THE SIDE OF THE TRANSMISSION. IF YOU ARE STILL UNDER THE TRANSMISSION, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.



As reported elsewhere in this forum, the transmission oil level is above this plug when the engine is not running. The level check must be performed with the engine running, or you will lose an awful lot of fluid. It must also be performed with the fluid at temperature, so if you are draining and re-filling, perform an initial fill and go for a drive afterward. I put 5 quarts in it, but you could probably use the amount removed as a closer approximation. After the transmission is up to the proper temperature, jack the car up and put it on jack stands; it is important that the car is level. I had the left-front wheel off so that I didn't have the car heaved three miles up into the air, but however you can get access to the level check bolt. Start the engine and remove the level check bolt. If oil flows out, let it flow until it stops and then replace the level check bolt. If no oil flows out, WITH THE ENGINE RUNNING, slowly add oil at the top of the transmission until fluid begins to drip from the level check bolt; then replace it and close the filler opening. Put the car back on the ground and enjoy your new transmission fluid.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 12-27-2013, 03:06 AM
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Cool Re: How-To: Transmission Oil Cooler Line - replacement and fluid refill

I made this a sticky and added a little to the title. Thanks for sharing!
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-22-2015, 10:56 AM
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Re: How-To: Transmission Oil Cooler Line - replacement and fluid refill

Is it really that easy to replace the transmission fluid? No dipsticks or any of that? It's essentially like changing differential fluid in a pickup, at least that's what I got from this.

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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-22-2015, 11:23 AM
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Re: How-To: Transmission Oil Cooler Line - replacement and fluid refill

Very similar.
Keep in mind.
After refilling the transmission you should drive it through all gears including reverse and get it up to temperature.
With car level and still running [in park], remove the fluid level plug and drain until no more comes out. Re-install level plug.

To start with, drain what fluid you can and measure it. Add perhaps 1/2 quart more than what came out so you are sure to have enough, then drain as per the above procedure.

The danger is in getting under a running car on jack stands. Avoid this if you can.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-22-2015, 02:33 PM
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Re: How-To: Transmission Oil Cooler Line - replacement and fluid refill

I'm not too worried about getting under a running car lol, I'm more worried about over-filling the transmission because I know that's bad.

So it was never stated, but the transmission will have that fill plug regardless if it's powered by the 4 cylinder or V6, correct?

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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 11-23-2015, 04:11 AM
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Re: How-To: Transmission Oil Cooler Line - replacement and fluid refill

4-cylinder has 2 plugs on side of trans: drain and fill.

6-cylinder has a cap/dipstick on top of trans. Haven't looked to see if it has 1 or 2 plugs on side of trans.


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