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2016 Malibu 1LT 1.5T/6-speed 6T40
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is an informal guide for the DIYer that wants to learn but is a little unsure. It is not a professional guide, there might even be typos. If you disagree with something, don't use the guide or write your own. The author (me), the forum, forum staff, nor anyone else is responsible for failure to follow the guide, damage or mishaps from the information here. What you do to your car is your own responsibility.

The following guide describes a transmission fluid drain and fill of a GM 6-speed (3rd gen 6T40 MNH) paired with the 1.5T in the 2016-2018 Malibu. I recommend reading through the entire guide beforehand to familiarize yourself. I'll break it down into 3 separate parts:

1. Background, Tools/Supplies
2. Procedure
3. Cleanup


Time required: 30 minutes per drain and fill

Download this guide as a PDF below:
 

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2016 Malibu 1LT 1.5T/6-speed 6T40
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
1. Background, Tools/Supplies

Background

Transmission fluid is said to be lifetime fluid under "normal" usage conditions. Under "severe" usage conditions, the user manual maintenance schedule calls for a fluid change every 45,000 miles. According to GM service bulletins, most driving fits into severe service (rapid acceleration, short trips, hot weather, cold weather, driving in hilly terrain, towing, stop and go traffic). I like to change my fluid at 30k intervals. Plus, GM fills with an ACDelco basic blend DEXRON-VI and there is a ACDelco Full Synthetic DEXRON-VI version available for <$2 more per quart.

Over the years, there have been several methods of changing the transmission fluid. The power flush, the fluid exchange via cooler lines, and the drain and fill. The power flush, pressure blown fluid into the unit and out the bottom or by force via the cooler lines, hasn't been recommended for a long time. The fluid exchange, using a machine to slowly exchange the fluid via cooler lines using the transmission's own pump, used to be a GM recommended method until early 2020. Drain and fill is now the only recommended method (see bulletin HERE). Dealers are currently performing fluid exchange or drain and fills.

Part #2, the procedure described below, is a very detailed step by step. The procedure is actually very simple: All we are doing here is removing old transmission fluid and replacing that exact same amount of fresh transmission fluid. To accomplish this you need to remove the fill cap, remove the drain plug, measure the fluid drained, and replace the same volume of new DEXRON-VI fluid. You won't remove all of the fluid - somewhere between 45-60% capacity (capacity is specified at 8.5-9.0 quarts for complete overhaul, fluid change is specified at 4.2-5.5 quarts). That is why you usually repeat this process twice with a little driving between. You will use about 5 quarts of fluid for each drain and fill for 10 quarts total. This guide instructs purchasing 6 quarts for each drain and fill because sometimes you drain 4.5 quarts, sometimes 5.5 quarts. Work cold... you can work warm but you might get out less fluid thanks to the Fluid Level Control Valve.

Tools/Supplies
Here are the items I used:
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1) 8 quart measure. I used THIS one.
2) 6 quarts of ACDelco Full Synthetic DEXRON-VI transmission fluid acdelco part 10-9243 gm part 88865549 for each drain and fill. I bought it HERE for $6.67/quart.
3) 6 quart drain pan. I used THIS pan for $9
4) disposable vinyl gloves (optional)
5) semi-flexible funnel with long neck. After trying many different options, I settled on THIS one for $11.90.
6) large piece of cardboard for drips (optional)
7) shop towels or paper towels
8) ratcheting socket wrench with 11mm socket - you can also use 7/16 but 11mm is perfect fit, 7/16 just slightly loose

You can also purchase a new drain plug (part 8654382 $5.42) if needed. I have reused my plug twice but on a third drain and fill replaced it. I didn't have leaks either way. I don't see anything specifying single use of the plug but seeing a new one I bet it is intended to be single use.

The prices are 2019 prices... some are higher now, some lower. You can also check for comparable supplies at any parts store or online retailer.
 

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2016 Malibu 1LT 1.5T/6-speed 6T40
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
2. Procedure

1) Park the car on level ground, engine off, let it cool at least two hours or preferably work COLD, and open the hood. Ramps or jacks are not necessary with a proper drain pan.

2) Remove the fill cap and set aside where you won't step on it. Removing the cap first is important as you need to make sure you can remove it. Removing the fill cap/plug requires no tools but it is a tight fit. It turns counter-clockwise and is threaded. See photos:
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3) Locate drain plug and slide cardboard (or plastic) under the car and position the drain pan. See note #1 at the end of this post. See photos:
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4) Remove drain plug using 11mm socket. Remember this is counter-clockwise lefty-loosey release. To simplify, if laying in front of the car with your wrench handle pointed toward the driver side, you pull toward yourself to release. Allow fluid to run to a drip. See photo:
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5) Reinstall drain plug and tighten to 12nm/110 in-lb). This is a clockwise righty-tighty tighten. From the front of the car and the wrench handle pointed toward the driver side you push away to tighten. Again see note #1. If you are unsure about the condition of your plug you can replace it with a new one for $6 (see tools/supplies list for part number and link). Wipe up any fluid around the plug or spattered on the transmission case.

6) Carefully slide out drain pan and measure. You should expect 4.5-5.5 quarts. My 2016 LT drains about 5 qt when cold. See photo:
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7) Position funnel in fill hole and replace with exact same volume of fluid measured in step 6. There are many options for getting a funnel(s) in the fill hole. The semi-rigid funnel I found after trying a few others is great. Once seated you can shine a flashlight from the front of the turbo in the 8 o'clock position to check seating. See photo:
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8) Reinstall fill cap. It does not need a torque spec - it twists clockwise until it stops.

9) Start engine and check for drips by idling a couple minutes. Once verified, close hood and then drive normally. I like to use (L)ow range select and drive a bit (10-15 seconds) in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th then back to D. Use R also. I do that to ensure mixing. I drive about 50 miles mostly in (D)rive. You can just drive a few days for 50-500 miles if easier.

10) Repeat the entire process starting at step 1.

Optional: you can verify the fluid level using a specific procedure and plug on the driver side of the unit. It is a little complicated and requires a quality scan tool. When I checked mine following several drain and fills it was exactly where it should be. This should not be necessary if proper fill was used at the factory and the exact volume drained was always replaced. This is only necessary if you are unsure of the fluid level, are encountering rough shifts, or have some other reason to suspect the fluid may not be at the correct volume. The fluid level and condition check guide is HERE.

Note #1: If you don't have a torque wrench, you can mark the front facing edge of the hex head drain bolt before removal and use two pennies. When tightened properly, the mark should face you in the same manner and two pennies fit between the hex head and transmission case.
 

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2016 Malibu 1LT 1.5T/6-speed 6T40
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
3. Cleanup

It is important that used transmission fluid not be disposed of in household waste or poured onto the ground. Return the fluid to the quart containers and take to a proper recycle or disposal location. AutoZone takes old transmission fluid (and motor oil) in my area. See Photo:
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I plan to do this cold drain & fill on my new Equinox when the time comes. It seems much easier than warming the transmission and messing around with the overflow drain plug. I have done the cold drain method on my Jeep Cherokee, which luckily has a drain plug in the pan. It has worked perfectly every time.
 
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