Gm's new transmission fluid with extra cooling capabilities... fml

Spalding1028

Original poster
Member
Jan 20, 2012
60
So I decided that since I've got the next two days off, I'd go ahead and give the tb a transmission flush since it has 170k on it, I bought it 8k miles ago, and I don't know when the transmission was flushed last. I did some research and decided that pulling the return line on the cooler and letting it pump out would be the easiest way to go. I went ahead and ordered me the Hayden adapter and also figured since I'll have the pan down, that I'd go ahead and order me the Dorman pan with the drain plug. Everything started going fine, broke the line loose, pulled it out of the cooler and to my surprise fluid started gushing out like crazy. In all I got about 9 quarts out just letting it drain without starting the truck. After everything was done, I noticed that the trans fluid was a nasty "poo brown" color, and figured that it was time after all to change it. So now I'm sitting here baffled, wondering how I managed to drain 9 quarts just from the cooler alone, until I decided to swirl it around with a screwdriver...
View attachment 22225
I poured it into a clear jug I had sitting around to show what I call GM's 2-tone tranny fluid
So here I am pulling out the radiator and basically the whole front end to get to it. I figured I'd post some more pictures below of the aftermath.
Everything removed
IMAG0368.jpg
Bumper cover off
IMAG0371-1.jpg
Grill and headlight
IMAG0370.jpg
The radiator
IMAG0374.jpg

Hopefully next week I'll be replacing the cooling lines (they're starting to rust and leak) along with installing a cooler and inline filter (gotta love freebies), and I'll be keeping a close watch on the trans... I really hate the thought of coolant running through it though :frown:
 

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Wooluf1952

Member
Nov 20, 2011
2,663
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
You know it now, but for others doing a fluid change, you should not unscrew the fitting from the radiator.
Just remove the wire spring clip.
 

Spalding1028

Original poster
Member
Jan 20, 2012
60
So should we take bets as far as how long my tranny will last? I'm not sure how long it's had this issue, and I'll find out how bad it is in the morning when I pull the pan. I had gotten 9 quarts of some nice $8 valvoline synthetic dex vi, but I think I'm going to make a trip to wally world to get probably 8-10 quarts of the <$5 supertech dex vi to try and push as much coolant out as I can.
 

Bartonmd

Member
Nov 20, 2011
545
Spalding1028 said:
So should we take bets as far as how long my tranny will last? I'm not sure how long it's had this issue, and I'll find out how bad it is in the morning when I pull the pan. I had gotten 9 quarts of some nice $8 valvoline synthetic dex vi, but I think I'm going to make a trip to wally world to get probably 8-10 quarts of the <$5 supertech dex vi to try and push as much coolant out as I can.

Why would you be worried about the trans fluid being messed up? All you did was unscrew the trans cooler from the radiator (instead of just popping the trans cooler line out of the cooler, without unthreading anything), so the radiator and the cooler drained. I'm sure next to nothing from the radiator got into the transmission.

ETA: Had you correctly taken the line out of its clip, even if the trans was full of coolant, it wouldn't have drained out like that. It only ever drains less than a cup of trans fluid when you take one line loose at the cooler. I'm certain that you unscrewed the nut that looks like it would be a compression fitting, but is actually the means of attaching the cooler to the inside of the radiator. If you loosened anything with a wrench, that's what you did.

Mike
 

Spalding1028

Original poster
Member
Jan 20, 2012
60
Bartonmd said:
Why would you be worried about the trans fluid being messed up? All you did was unscrew the trans cooler from the radiator (instead of just popping the trans cooler line out of the cooler, without unthreading anything), so the radiator and the cooler drained. I'm sure next to nothing from the radiator got into the transmission.

ETA: Had you correctly taken the line out of its clip, even if the trans was full of coolant, it wouldn't have drained out like that. It only ever drains less than a cup of trans fluid when you take one line loose at the cooler. I'm certain that you unscrewed the nut that looks like it would be a compression fitting, but is actually the means of attaching the cooler to the inside of the radiator. If you loosened anything with a wrench, that's what you did.

Mike

Because along with my less than a cup of transmission fluid, I also got about 8.5 quarts of coolant out along with it (pointing to an internal leak in the radiator) and since transmission fluid floats on coolant, whatever transmission fluid went through the cooler most likely got displaced by coolant.
 

Bartonmd

Member
Nov 20, 2011
545
Spalding1028 said:
Because along with my less than a cup of transmission fluid, I also got about 8.5 quarts of coolant out along with it (pointing to an internal leak in the radiator) and since transmission fluid floats on coolant, whatever transmission fluid went through the cooler most likely got displaced by coolant.

Since the transmission fluid can be up to 200PSI in the cooler, and coolant is only at 15PSI, you would have trans fluid going into your coolant when the vehicle was running, and coolant going into your transmission fluid when the vehicle was not running. Since trans fluid floats on water, it would be the frist stuff out of the overflow, so your burp bottle should be about 1/2 transmission fluid, if you're right.

The question is, that I'm pretty sure you missed in my post, did you use any kind of wrench to take the trans cooler line off the radiator?

Mike
 

Spalding1028

Original poster
Member
Jan 20, 2012
60
Bartonmd said:
Since the transmission fluid can be up to 200PSI in the cooler, and coolant is only at 15PSI, you would have trans fluid going into your coolant when the vehicle was running, and coolant going into your transmission fluid when the vehicle was not running. Since trans fluid floats on water, it would be the frist stuff out of the overflow, so your burp bottle should be about 1/2 transmission fluid, if you're right.

The question is, that I'm pretty sure you missed in my post, did you use any kind of wrench to take the trans cooler line off the radiator?

Mike

Yeah I did. I see the clips now, but I'm not really worried about it. The new radiator has the fittings in it so I'll just unclip the old fittings from the lines and install them the right way. The overflow was empty, but I would be worried at the thought of even a little coolant getting in there. Most likely it will do nothing, but I've seen a 4l60 after it got a coolant treatment and it wasn't pretty. The first thing that water's going to do besides providing a lack of lubrication is cause things to start corroding.
 

Bartonmd

Member
Nov 20, 2011
545
Spalding1028 said:
Yeah I did. I see the clips now, but I'm not really worried about it. The new radiator has the fittings in it so I'll just unclip the old fittings from the lines and install them the right way. The overflow was empty, but I would be worried at the thought of even a little coolant getting in there. Most likely it will do nothing, but I've seen a 4l60 after it got a coolant treatment and it wasn't pretty. The first thing that water's going to do besides providing a lack of lubrication is cause things to start corroding.

OK, then there was no problem with your radiator or its internal transmission cooler. The part that you used the wrench to take off was the part that the line clips into, but it's also the part that holds the internal cooler in position inside the end tank of the radiator. When you took that out, coolant was able to go around the sides of the cooler, and out the hole in the lower end tank. I bet there's less than a teaspoon of water in your transmission from that, and maybe a drop or 2 of trans fluid in the radiator. It gets that much water drawn into it when you park it hot, in the rain, and it cools down. It'll get up to temperature and it'll bake the water out. No big deal. Worst case, go ahead and do a flush with the good fluid and be done with it.

Mike
 

Wooluf1952

Member
Nov 20, 2011
2,663
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Bartonmd said:
All you did was unscrew the trans cooler from the radiator
I'm certain that you unscrewed the nut that looks like it would be a compression fitting, but is actually the means of attaching the cooler to the inside of the radiator. Mike

Those are the relevant parts.
You loosened the fitting that seals the coolant from draining out of the radiator.
IF any coolant got into the trans fluid lines, it would have been a drop or two. The coolant that drained out was from the seal around the trans cooler being loosened.
If there had been that much coolant in the trans, it would have trashed the trans by now and the coolant, that you see in the bottle, would not look that clear.
If you have a trans problem, it won't be from this mishap. The possible 170k miles without a fluid change is a bigger concern.
 

Spalding1028

Original poster
Member
Jan 20, 2012
60
I see where you guys are coming from, but if you look at the image below, I separated the trans fluid and the coolant that I let drain out. The clear jug on the left is about 95% trans fluid with a little coolant on the bottom. The yellow jug is full of coolant and the bucket has about 2.5 qts of coolant in it.
IMAG0376.jpg

Again, this is just from removing transmission lines.
 

Wooluf1952

Member
Nov 20, 2011
2,663
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Not sure what to say.
Did you ever have to add coolant?
 

Spalding1028

Original poster
Member
Jan 20, 2012
60
I'm sure it was low. My reservoir was dry and I know I've got a leak in one of my trans cooler lines which I'll be replacing next week depending on how my financial situation goes ($250 for a radiator and fluids will take a nice chunk out of your paycheck)
 

Wooluf1952

Member
Nov 20, 2011
2,663
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
OK. You have about 6.5 quarts of coolant in the jug and pail. That's a little less than half the capacity of the system, which would have led to over heating.
Also, if you had an extra 6.5 quarts of anything in the trans, it would've been pushed out the overflow tube.
At this point all you can do is hope for the best. I think you'll be OK.
 

Bartonmd

Member
Nov 20, 2011
545
You know, I say that about not losing more than a cup of trans fluid, but the only things I've messed with the trans cooler lines on have had the trans cooler higher up than the fliud level of the transmission. The cooler on this, being at the bottom of the radiator that sticks down below the frame, could very well siphon out the torque converter, which holds ~4-5 quarts of fluid.

Otherwise, that's just a freak thing, with you removing the wrong thing and draining the coolant and trans cooler... Like the guy who gets in a car accident, gets an X-ray from that, and they find cancer or something...

The real tell is going to be what you find in your transmission sump.

Mike
 

Spalding1028

Original poster
Member
Jan 20, 2012
60
Bartonmd said:
You know, I say that about not losing more than a cup of trans fluid, but the only things I've messed with the trans cooler lines on have had the trans cooler higher up than the fliud level of the transmission. The cooler on this, being at the bottom of the radiator that sticks down below the frame, could very well siphon out the torque converter, which holds ~4-5 quarts of fluid.

Otherwise, that's just a freak thing, with you removing the wrong thing and draining the coolant and trans cooler... Like the guy who gets in a car accident, gets an X-ray from that, and they find cancer or something...

The real tell is going to be what you find in your transmission sump.

Mike

Which I will be pulling tonight. I'll keep ya'll updated.
 

BRomanJr

Member
Dec 9, 2011
371
Spalding1028 said:
I'm sure it was low. My reservoir was dry and I know I've got a leak in one of my trans cooler lines which I'll be replacing next week depending on how my financial situation goes ($250 for a radiator and fluids will take a nice chunk out of your paycheck)

It is possible to put the radiator back together and if the seals survived, it will work as it did before.

Probably, When you drained the coolant, it would have pulled the coolant out of the overflow tank and drained it.
If one of your transmission cooling lines has a hole in it that might account for more than a cup of fluid coming out.
The coolant draining could also have created a suction that pulled some Transmission fluid out with it.


No liability here, just what I would do,
I would re-assemble the radiator, re-install and refill, repair your leaking Transmission line(s) and finish your fluid change.
Replacing the radiator seems UN-neccesary.
 

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