I admit defeat on this one

WarGawd

Original poster
Member
Sep 2, 2012
468
Quick background, bought my Envoy early July, have now put 10,000 km on it as of yesterday. Been checking the tranny fluid pretty much weekly. I say checking, but really all I have been doing is seeing if the level on the dipstick is any lower than the last time. Problem is I can't for the life of me get a decent reading - no matter what I have tried the fluid is always solidly covering both sides of the dipstick well above (I mean like 5-6"!!) the x-hatch. When saw that the first time I was pretty concerned - thought it was way overfilled, wondered if that was something previous owner or dealer did, or if dealer neglected to check it.

Decided to leave it be at first. But as time progressed it started bugging me, wondered if it may be related to a tranny whine, read threads, no info found. After accumulating parts & fluids for a tranny flush, I put Seafoam TransTune in it for 2 nights - fluid changed color drastically, no change in my ability to determine actual level. So because of color change and concerns over level, I used my fluid pump to drain the pan as best I could (prob got about 3 3.5 qts out) and then checked the nearly EMPTY pan with the dipstick, same problem, fluid still covers both sides about 5-6" above cross hatch. MUST be rubbing off from the dipstick tube, but geez no matter how many times I wipe it off it still seems to be there. If this was crude oil, I'd be rich from the apparently perpetual supply.

So, I did the tranny flush/pan drop/filter change today (summary details here)....put 10 litres (10.5 qts) into the empty pan via the dipstick tube, and with preloading both OEM and external cooler, there'll be ~2 more in the system. I KNOW the level is approximately right - but I may as well toss my dipstick in a ditch for all the good it's doing. WTF?!?! I've checked tranny fluids a zillion times, but this made me doubt myself to the point where I went back and reviewed/confirmed the process more than once in the last few weeks. Am I the only one this has happened to? HELP!

EDIT: It JUST occurred to me - is it possible I have the wrong dipstick, from some other vehicle? Can someone measure theirs for me or take a scale picture?

Left the previous edit in, but just went and checked after a warmup run - on the dipstick I have a very faded PN 15188981 so skip the pics/measurments. Also fluid is actually only about 3" above x-hatch. As there are no reference markings that far up, I can't tell how closely this compares to previous attempts, but it close I'd say.

Edit 3 : 1Aauto shows it to be an "Engine Oil Dipstick" but despite the writing on mine being faded, I can see its says "Check in park with engine idling etc etc" MUST be a tranny dipstick. Sigh roadie also confirms on the OS that that's the correct part - back to square one
 

Busterbrown

Member
Dec 4, 2011
253
Are you checking the level when your tranny is at a normal operating temperature? I had very similar results 2 summers ago when I did a complete flush and filter change on my Rainier. I must of spent 2 hours attempting to get an accurate dipstick reading. I finally found the sweet spot and a measurable marker line on the stick after turning it 180 degrees in the tube and after the trans was nicely warmed. There tends to wet spots above the full line indicator after extracting it but I can always see a clear "double-sided" wet mark on the stick. Also, always check on level pavement as dipsticks don't like slopes.
 

WarGawd

Original poster
Member
Sep 2, 2012
468
Busterbrown said:
Are you checking the level when your tranny is at a normal operating temperature? I had very similar results 2 summers ago when I did a complete flush and filter change on my Rainier. I must of spent 2 hours attempting to get an accurate dipstick reading. I finally found the sweet spot and a measurable marker line on the stick after turning it 180 degrees in the tube and after the trans was nicely warmed. There tends to wet spots above the full line indicator after extracting it but I can always see a clear "double-sided" wet mark on the stick. Also, always check on level pavement as dipsticks don't like slopes.

Think I was typing edits as you did your reply - yes always warm, always level (well except for oddball attempts at seeing if the fluid would drain off the tube wall overnite, I tried checking it one morning cold, not running to see what happened - inconclusive). Mine does not seem to allow me any rotation to try different angles. I can start out with it rotated, but it seems like as I push it down it turns into the same orientation. (And isn't 180 degrees just putting a different flat face forward? You meant 90 deg right?)

It's a relief to know at least one other person had some trouble - thought I must be going crazy :crazy:
 

RayVoy

Member
Nov 20, 2011
939
WarGawd said:
It's a relief to know at least one other person had some trouble - thought I must be going crazy :crazy:
Haha, no your not going crazy, I had the same problem with the Envoy I had, also have the same problem with current truck. I've gotten to the point, where I pull it, wipe it, insert it, pull it wipe it reinsert it until I can see enough of the level (on both sides of the stick) to be sure of where it is.
 

Wooluf1952

Member
Nov 20, 2011
2,663
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Try getting the truck on a level spot with the engine and trans up to temp. Keep the engine running, pull the trans dipstick, wipe it off and set it aside. Wait for a few minutes then put the dipstick back in and pull it back out and read the level. Some times, when you pull the dipstick out, fluid wipes off on the sides of the tube. If you immediately reinsert the dipstick, and pull it out again, that excess looks like an over filled trans.
I have the same problem when I check my oil.
It's worth a try.
 

WarGawd

Original poster
Member
Sep 2, 2012
468
Wow ok, more common that I woulda guessed. That's why it took me so long to ask - I was almost embarrased to.

Any opinions on the effect of running it say 1L overfilled for a short time until I can find a method that works? I have a 200k road trip I have to do this week sometime. Safe, or better to delay a day or 2 and try the "wait and wipe lots"?
 

Mooseman

Moderator
Dec 4, 2011
25,483
Ottawa, ON
I usually read both sides of all dipticks, no matter what it's for. Keep it pointed down after pulling it. The side that shows the lowest is the actual level. Yes, it is caused by the dipstick picking up oil in the tube. I also dip it and pull it out quickly to avoid oil dribbling down from the tube. Keep the dipstick from turning while pulling it out as some will do that due to the bends in the tube.

One liter over should not cause problems but that should only bring it up to about 1/2 inch above full mark.
 

navigator

Member
Dec 3, 2011
504
Mooseman said:
......Keep it pointed down after pulling it.......
I usually pull my dipstick out and immediately move it to horizontal so the fluid doesn't run down the dipstick and show a low reading.
 

RayVoy

Member
Nov 20, 2011
939
navigator said:
I usually pull my dipstick out and immediately move it to horizontal
:rotfl::rotfl::rotfl::rotfl:
 

gmcman

Member
Dec 12, 2011
4,656
When you are pulling the dipstick, is there a straight line on one of the sides? Sometimes it's on the back but on occasion I will have fluid 2-3" above the marks but on the backside it's a clean mark. Doesn't matter which side, just look for the straight cutoff mark of fluid.

Is the dipstick twisted?

Try inserting it at different orientations like on a clock and hold the top firmly so it's doesn't twist, there is likely a position it will ride the tube cleanly at least on one side.

Did you ever take the guide off from the valve body what routes the dipstick straight into the pan?
 

WarGawd

Original poster
Member
Sep 2, 2012
468
gmcman said:
When you are pulling the dipstick, is there a straight line on one of the sides? Sometimes it's on the back but on occasion I will have fluid 2-3" above the marks but on the backside it's a clean mark. Doesn't matter which side, just look for the straight cutoff mark of fluid.

Is the dipstick twisted?

Try inserting it at different orientations like on a clock and hold the top firmly so it's doesn't twist, there is likely a position it will ride the tube cleanly at least on one side.

Did you ever take the guide off from the valve body what routes the dipstick straight into the pan?

Well, thanx for all the input guys. I really don't know what else to do. I like having a full tank of gas most of the time. I gas up nearly every night like clockwork at the same pump at the same gas station, on a level flat concrete pad beside the pumps under the light. I do know to look for the low solid line on one side of the dipstick, it's just not there - the fluid is equal and solid on both sides, well above the cross hatching. I can try to take pics for you all to see, but just did the flush yesterday so it's pretty clear pink & may not show well.

I have tried fast dip n pull, slow dip, wiping multiple times, twisting, every permutation I can imagine. I even tried one morning cold & not running just to allow fluid on the tube wall to drain back to the pan ( I know that result would not be correct). I know it must sound stupid as hell to you guys, but really nothing seems to work. I even went to the trouble to verify the dipstick is the correct one!

I haven't looked too closely at the tube itself. I know the exhaust manifold was replaced on this...for any of you who have R&R'd the manifold, is there any chance the tube may have gotten bent/creased to the point where it constrains the orientation of the dipstick and/or prevents the fluid from draining back (I know, I'm grasping here)?

gmcman can you explain or rephrase your last question, I'm not understanding what you're getting at.
 

northcreek

Member
Jan 15, 2012
3,335
WNY
navigator said:
I usually pull my dipstick out and immediately move it to horizontal.

You-da-man!
 

gmcman

Member
Dec 12, 2011
4,656
WarGawd said:
gmcman can you explain or rephrase your last question, I'm not understanding what you're getting at.

At the base of the dipstick tube where the dipstick enters the pan, there is a piece of metal, almost like a small right angle that is mounted to the base of the trans, at the corner of the valve body.

This guides the dipstick into the pan.

I don't know what the reading would look like if it was missing, but I would think you may get splashing on the dipstick if it was missing.

Just curious if you have ever been inside the valve body and may have not put this back if removed.

Just a thought, I cannot think of much else.
 

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WarGawd

Original poster
Member
Sep 2, 2012
468
gmcman said:
At the base of the dipstick tube where the dipstick enters the pan, there is a piece of metal, almost like a small right angle that is mounted to the base of the trans, at the corner of the valve body.

This guides the dipstick into the pan.

I don't know what the reading would look like if it was missing, but I would think you may get splashing on the dipstick if it was missing.

Just curious if you have ever been inside the valve body and may have not put this back if removed.

Just a thought, I cannot think of much else.

AWESOME!!!! I have never been in there myself before Monday, but someone sure has. I had the presence of mind to take a pic or two, and that piece is definitely not there:

View attachment 23383

I was going to comment in my last reply that when I had the pan off I couldn't see why the fluid was splashing so high in the tube....but I think you nailed it Sherlock. Now what to do about it? GAWD I don't wanna have to pull the pan again
 

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Mooseman

Moderator
Dec 4, 2011
25,483
Ottawa, ON
Well, if as you said in your first post you're fairly confident you put the right amount, I say leave it until next time. The ripples or waves in the pan are probably not that high and the splash guard would just stop them from getting to the dipstick. I can't imagine the ripples being that high that it would be really throwing the reading off really badly. Consider this as your new normal level and making a new mark on the dipstick as reference.
 

WarGawd

Original poster
Member
Sep 2, 2012
468
gmcman said:
WarGawd...were you able to locate that piece? Maybe a trans shop?

No, honestly I haven't looked yet. It would be nice to know the level but for the time being I'm gonna just do them cold, wipe the dipstick multiple times to get rid of the runoff from the tube and mark that on the stick. Tht should give me till Spring to find the part and the motivation to put it on there...just makes me wonder if someone did some tranny mods/repairs in the past and forgot to put it back. If anyone has knowledge of the part number, or any mods/repairs that might require its removal, I'd like to hear about it.
 

WarGawd

Original poster
Member
Sep 2, 2012
468
So I was out this morning, stopped in at the local dealership looking for something else, and had the parts guy try to track that part down for me. He couldn't - it didn't appear to be in any of the diagrams we looked at. He suggested I check with a local tranny shop to see if I could get anywhere with it.

Stopped in and had a decent convo with the tranny shop guys. Apparently not all 4L60E's are created equal - some come with the part (he called it an oil dam) and some don't. In his words the proportion of 4L60E's without the dam is about 40%. So it seems much more likely that mine simply never came with it, as opposed to someone having been in there previously and removed/failed to replace it. BUT that also seems to suggest that IF that is my real problem, WAY more people should also be having the same difficulty measuring the fluid level. The feedback he gave me was that most people end up having tranny issues because the fluid shows high without the dam, leaving them falsely believe that it's full when in fact it's low. And then they have a failure. His conclusion was to try and reduce the level to where it indicates accurately on the dipstick, drive it and see what the behavior is. He suspects previous owner may have overfilled it, and even though I explained how I did the flush and how much fluid I put back in, he's not entirely convinced that I removed all the fluid, and so may have inadvertently overfilled it back to near the same level.

Soooo, not sure I'm any further ahead - I'll have to think about it for a while and see what other info I can dig up.
 

gmcman

Member
Dec 12, 2011
4,656
I spoke with my buddy and he said 02-03 have the stop. GM part# 24209927 "Trans fluid level indicator stop"

Dipstick is: GM part # 15069769 02-05

Check the dipstick for the corresponding number.

Perhaps you could get the stop and see if it helps, about $18.
 

WarGawd

Original poster
Member
Sep 2, 2012
468
gmcman said:
I spoke with my buddy and he said 02-03 have the stop. GM part# 24209927 "Trans fluid level indicator stop"

Dipstick is: GM part # 15069769 02-05

Check the dipstick for the corresponding number.

Perhaps you could get the stop and see if it helps, about $18.

Thx - that dipstick PN is different than the one I posted in OP (PN 15188981) and the 15188981 is the part called for - any idea what the difference actually is?

EDIT: and if they no longer had them after 02-03, doesn't that mean a LOT more people should be having measurement troubles? Why just me? Maybe it IS overfilled....
 

gmcman

Member
Dec 12, 2011
4,656
WarGawd said:
Thx - that dipstick PN is different than the one I posted in OP (PN 15188981) and the 15188981 is the part called for - any idea what the difference actually is?

That's the dipstick for the 5.3L. Could be a reach issue for the engine and since the I6 and V8 are different layouts that's likely the reason for the change.
 

gmcman

Member
Dec 12, 2011
4,656
WarGawd said:
EDIT: It JUST occurred to me - is it possible I have the wrong dipstick, from some other vehicle? Can someone measure theirs for me or take a scale picture?

I think you have the wrong dipstick. :smile:

Waaayyy back in post#1......Sorry but I meant to go out and check mine that morning but needless to say I forgot.
 

Wooluf1952

Member
Nov 20, 2011
2,663
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
There was no rust the last time I looked at mine.
I do remember reading on the OS about members having the dip stick rust completely thru at the handle and the bottom part falling down into the tube.
 

WarGawd

Original poster
Member
Sep 2, 2012
468
gmcman said:
That's the dipstick for the 5.3L. Could be a reach issue for the engine and since the I6 and V8 are different layouts that's likely the reason for the change.

gmcman said:
I think you have the wrong dipstick. :smile:

Waaayyy back in post#1......Sorry but I meant to go out and check mine that morning but needless to say I forgot.

I can't be sure I'm interpreting everything correctly, but from Tonkin Online Parts, the 15069769 seems to have only been called up for MY2002. The 15812984 seems to have been for 2006 - 2009. And for the '05 XL SLT the product fitment says the 15188981 is the correct part - can you be more specific about why you think I have the wrong one?
 

WarGawd

Original poster
Member
Sep 2, 2012
468
CaptainXL said:
Do you guys have any rust on the tranny dipstick towards the top near the handle?

None on mine, but like Wooluf says there seems to have been past problems, and given the difficulties I'm having, it's always possible that it has been replaced at some point (just maybe with the incorrect part).
 

gmcman

Member
Dec 12, 2011
4,656
WarGawd said:
The 15812984 seems to have been for 2006 - 2009. And for the '05 XL SLT the product fitment says the 15188981 is the correct part - can you be more specific about why you think I have the wrong one?


I called my buddy at the dealer and he gave me the 242# for the I6

This is what I came up with for your part #

Edited to add.....I will measure the one in mine in the AM and report back. :lipsrsealed:
 

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gmcman

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Dec 12, 2011
4,656
Here's what I came up with:
 

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meerschm

Member
Aug 26, 2012
1,079
http://www.gmpartseast.com/diagrams/small/56S/transmission-filler-tube-indicator-ts0405501.png

Does your fill tube come to the front of the block, as shown on this figure?

I had a crate transmission put in at around 103kmiles, and mine comes up on the firewall side of the air intake hose. Tube is not connected to the block on the way forward as shown in this figure.

It is also seemingly impossible for me to get a good reading of fill level hot. too much fluid in the tube, even after three or four minutes. i can check it cold, and it is close to the marks. i know I spilled some fluid from the lines changing them out, but do not want to over fill the transmission. tomorrow I will drive to work and try to wait five minutes idling, and see how it goes.
 

Sparky

Member
Dec 4, 2011
12,927
One thing to be aware of is if you check the level right after driving for a while it can actually read high as the trans temp is a little higher and therefore the fluid has expanded more and is reading higher. There is a rather specific method of checking the fluid level in the manual and I found if I don't follow that exactly I tend to get high readings very easily.
 

WarGawd

Original poster
Member
Sep 2, 2012
468
gmcman said:
Here's what I came up with:

Yours is fully 7-1/2" longer than mine. I believe the TS04-055 diagram that meerschm references below correctly depicts the filler tube style on your '02. Mine is not like that, and like his mine comes up on the firewall side of the air intake:

View attachment 23586

View attachment 23589

meerschm said:
http://www.gmpartseast.com/diagrams/small/56S/transmission-filler-tube-indicator-ts0405501.png

Does your fill tube come to the front of the block, as shown on this figure?

I had a crate transmission put in at around 103kmiles, and mine comes up on the firewall side of the air intake hose. Tube is not connected to the block on the way forward as shown in this figure.

It is also seemingly impossible for me to get a good reading of fill level hot. too much fluid in the tube, even after three or four minutes. i can check it cold, and it is close to the marks. i know I spilled some fluid from the lines changing them out, but do not want to over fill the transmission. tomorrow I will drive to work and try to wait five minutes idling, and see how it goes.

When you say check it cold and it's close to the marks, do you mean the cold mark or the hot mark - mine has both level indications as you can see above (lettering is upside down, but it says "cold" not "add").

Here's a shot showing HOW far up the tube it measures on mine - fluid was warm but level was taken without engine running - and I didn't think to take a shot to show how far it drops when I run it, I may do that later. No scale shown, but it is almost exactly 5" above the hot full mark, and I believe it drops to right around 3" above with engine running:

View attachment 23590

Something the tranny shop guy said is beginning to sound more and more like what's really going on - if it's overfilled, there is no other place to go but up the tube. In his words it can be 3" up the tube only overfull by a litre. Which led me to wonder where the vent to atmosphere is - because if it's really as overfull as it seems to be indicating, I'd expect to see some fluid expelled out the vent. And as I took these pics, I spotted what looks like tranny fluid splashes on the exhaust - it wasn't a result of spillage when I did the flush. Is the vent somewhere in that area?:

View attachment 23591

Sparky said:
One thing to be aware of is if you check the level right after driving for a while it can actually read high as the trans temp is a little higher and therefore the fluid has expanded more and is reading higher. There is a rather specific method of checking the fluid level in the manual and I found if I don't follow that exactly I tend to get high readings very easily.

Yes. I have followed the manual procedure exactly (at first) and then tried other ways as I discovered the issue. I believe the warm full mark, when done as per the stated procedure, is supposed to account for fluid expansion due to heat.

SO, all said and done, I'm almost sure it's somehow overfilled now, and always has been. I'm gonna take the tranny guy's suggestion, take out enough fluid to make it right at the top of the warm mark with hot fluid (per the correct procedure) and drive it a day or two - The way I drive I will know if it's low or not :biggrin:
 

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gmcman

Member
Dec 12, 2011
4,656
WarGawd said:
SO, all said and done, I'm almost sure it's somehow overfilled now, and always has been. I'm gonna take the tranny guy's suggestion, take out enough fluid to make it right at the top of the warm mark with hot fluid (per the correct procedure) and drive it a day or two - The way I drive I will know if it's low or not :biggrin:

So how do we account for the fact the part number on your dipstick is from a 5.3 V8?

Can someone here with an 05 5.3 measure their dipstick for comparison?

Your's may be overfilled and that could be the correct stick, something tells me we need to at least verify this first.

Edited to add: Could someone with an 05 4.2 also measure theirs?
 

gmcman

Member
Dec 12, 2011
4,656
WarGawd said:
View attachment 10200

Something the tranny shop guy said is beginning to sound more and more like what's really going on - if it's overfilled, there is no other place to go but up the tube. In his words it can be 3" up the tube only overfull by a litre. Which led me to wonder where the vent to atmosphere is - because if it's really as overfull as it seems to be indicating, I'd expect to see some fluid expelled out the vent. And as I took these pics, I spotted what looks like tranny fluid splashes on the exhaust - it wasn't a result of spillage when I did the flush. Is the vent somewhere in that area?:

Yes that does make sense. I'm not sure where or if there is a vent in that area but the theory definately holds water.
 

WarGawd

Original poster
Member
Sep 2, 2012
468
gmcman said:
So how do we account for the fact the part number on your dipstick is from a 5.3 V8?

Everywhere else I looked seems to indicate that it's the right one for the 4.2, and roadie even confirmed it on the OS - I'd have to guess they must be dual use depending on year and physical placement of the tube in the engine compartment

What site was your screen capture from above?
 

gmcman

Member
Dec 12, 2011
4,656
WarGawd said:
Everywhere else I looked seems to indicate that it's the right one for the 4.2, and roadie even confirmed it on the OS - I'd have to guess they must be dual use depending on year and physical placement of the tube in the engine compartment

What site was your screen capture from above?

I guess we both admit defeat...:crazy:

Website is GM Parts Giant.com When I searched your number the stick shown was for a SLE, shouldn't matter so I went back and manually entered all the info and the 15188981 came up. The original search obviously for the 5.3 (I didn't choose that) so my bad for sharing the incorrect info. Looks like they did use the same stick for both engines.

Sorry WarGawd.....I thought I was on to something hot there. :frown:



meerschm said:
Does your fill tube come to the front of the block, as shown on this figure?

Yes it does.
 

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WarGawd

Original poster
Member
Sep 2, 2012
468
gmcman said:
Sorry WarGawd.....I thought I was on to something hot there. :frown:

No worries - the bit about the oil dam was definitely insightful and may still turn out to be the best answer if mine turns out NOT to be overfilled. I'll remove the fluid today and post back in a day or two when I've had a chance to evaluate the behavior.
 

gmcman

Member
Dec 12, 2011
4,656
You could always remove the pan with the stick inserted and note the depth.

Tip: Anytime I remove the pan, I pull the passenger side cooler line and pump out the pan first, makes very little mess this way when removing the pan.
 

WarGawd

Original poster
Member
Sep 2, 2012
468
gmcman said:
You could always remove the pan with the stick inserted and note the depth.

Tip: Anytime I remove the pan, I pull the passenger side cooler line and pump out the pan first, makes very little mess this way when removing the pan.

LMAO - I'm starting to get the impression you never follow any of the links in my posts - in OP, I gave a reference link to the details of how I did the flush (http://gmtnation.com/f79/trans-fluid-change-1964/index2.html#post100659)

BTW though, earlier in the thread I said I had removed about 3 - 3.5 qts from the pan using the fluid transfer pump. Today I discovered that when you do that, at the point the transfer pump loses suction IS THE POINT WHERE THE FLUID LEVEL INDICATES HOT FULL IN RUNNING ENGINE. In other words, even though I cannot push the siphon hose any further down and it feels like it hits bottom, that must not be the case. So earlier when I assumed I had emptied the pan, in fact what I seem to have done is lower the level to the correct amount (still a little baffled why I couldn't read it on the stick at that time, but it was dark, cold and raining and I probably could have been more thorough)

So my level now indicates 100% full hot when idling in park after a short warmup...I put about 40 km highway on it after that, no noticeable difference. City driving should be more revealing as I go around corners and approach stop lights etc.
 

meerschm

Member
Aug 26, 2012
1,079
View attachment 23614

this is cold and not running. I started and ran through the gears, and waited a few minutes, and it drops closer to the cold full mark, but just over.

View attachment 23615

part number is 15188981 with the tube which comes up closer to the firewall. i am not sure if it was this way from the factory or if a different tube was installed when I had the crate tranny put in. ( I suspect they would reuse original if they could, but at the time I did not pay attention to recall where it was (which may be related to why I needed transmission work.. immediate effect was no reverse. crate trans came with three year warranty, which sounded better than having locals play inside)

length is right at 34 inches

when I checked it warm, it reads a couple inches up from warm full.

seems like I am a bit overfilled. I note the warning on the indicator, but what exactly bad can happen from a bit too much fluid in the tranny? (that I should be worried about after putting 42000 miles on it this way)
 

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