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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited by Moderator)
Hi Folks,

So I mentioned on another thread I want to keep my Volt a long time. Without getting into a long drawn out discussion of the merits of early oil changes I'll cut to the chase (and save some folks scrolling through for an answer) and say I believe Chevrolet is being very honest about the sensible transmission oil change mileage interval on the Volt.

Some manufacturers are treating components like diffs and gearboxes/transmissions as throw away items and so don't specify any oil changes or very long service intervals to the detriment to the actual lifetime.

Considering the cleanliness of the transmission oil that came out of my Volt with 37k miles on the clock I'd say the clutches do only operate when the speeds of the various pieces are matched, it also seems like there is minimal debris shedding any/or the internal filter is very efficient at removing any particles or contamination.

Now on to the oil change:

You'll need:

11mm socket+wrench for the drain and level plug removal and re-fitting
19mm socket+wrench for the fill plug
Funnel with attached tube, about 3/8" OD or equivalent for filling oil
6-7 quarts of Dexron VI transmission fluid, I used Valvoline synthetic
Kitchen roll for mop up
7-8 quart drain pan

The basic sequence is: break torque on fill plug, break torque on level set plug, remove drain plug and drain old oil into pan.
Wait for all oil to drain, clean threads and check/clean thread of the plug. Re-insert and torque up.

Check the amount of drained oil (mine was 5+ quarts) and add this amount of clean fluid to the transmission through the top fill plug, make sure to avoid dropping debris/dust/dirt in when you do this.

Start the car by having the hood up and the ON button pressed, run the engine for 5 mins, cycle through P/R/D slowly twice. MAKE SURE YOUR FOOT IS FIRMLY ON THE BRAKE WHEN YOU DO THIS!!

Put it back in P, with engine still running remove the oil level plug. Add oil to the top fill plug until it starts dripping out the level plug. Tighten the level plug up.

Tighten up the top fill plug. Switch off the engine.

Clean up!


If people want more detail reply to the thread. I'll attach pics. The used oil was very clean but slightly darker than the new oil, I could see no debris or particles in it. I kept a sample in case I want to analyze in the future. Might be my imagination but the car seems to 1-1.5 miles more on a charge now?

Like I said at the start Chevy is honest about the transmission oil interval for long life, I don't see changing the oil at the recommended 97.5k miles would cause any harm to it.

EDIT: the workshop manual which is available as a download has the torque specs for the plugs, please consult it before attempting this. My car took 5.8 quarts of oil to refil, so have a little spare in case you need more.

Pics: Fill plug @ top > Fill plug removed & cleaned > Drain Plug > Level set plug > 11mm socket

photo 2a.jpg photo 3.jpg photo 1a.jpg photo 3a.jpg photo 2.jpg
 

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Thanks for the write up, Bart!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Ok - Photos in order:

"photo 3" is the fill plug on top of the tranny, it has some kind of seal on it.

"photo 2a" is the fill plug as installed on top of the tranny. You'll need a 19mm socket to remove it and extensions with joints in them to get access.

"photo 1a" is the drain plug location right at the bottom of the tranny, it is some kind of tapered NPT type thread so take care on reinstalling it!

"photo 3a" is the level plug which is located right next to the drivers side driveshaft CV joint on the tranny. Again it is a tapered type plug so take care on reinstalling.

"photo 2" is 11mm socket for the drain and level plugs.
 

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this is great.

Hello Moderators- can we have a forum section just for "maintenance" threads? it would make finding this sort of thing a million times easier in 3-4 years when more of us will want to perform maintenance ourselves.
thanks
Paul
 

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Bart,

Thank you so much for posting this! I read the manual and it sounded complicated. It's almost legaleez in that manual.
I agree that sooner is WAY better than later. I suspect 97k is pushing it. Only time and a few posted oil analyses will tell.

On my Gen 3 Prius I changed it at 112k miles and it was horrible. I had the ATF analyzed and it was scary.There is no clear schedule for changing ATF on the car.


When I do my VOLT I'll post oil analysis results here.
Looks like it does not have a magnetic drain plug. I'll add one of those at the fluid change
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I see in photo 1a that you have the car jacked up at the subframe mount plate.... do you also use jack stands too?, if so, where do you put them?
Yes that jack is a large hydraulic jack, the other side I have a large screw jack. The screw jack is on the tranny side I was working on and I left the wheels in place. If the hydraulic jack failed it would not have caused the car to fall completely, if both jacks failed the car would still not fully collapse, only to the wheel height.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Bart,

Thank you so much for posting this! I read the manual and it sounded complicated. It's almost legaleez in that manual.
I agree that sooner is WAY better than later. I suspect 97k is pushing it. Only time and a few posted oil analyses will tell.

On my Gen 3 Prius I changed it at 112k miles and it was horrible. I had the ATF analyzed and it was scary.There is no clear schedule for changing ATF on the car.


When I do my VOLT I'll post oil analysis results here.
Looks like it does not have a magnetic drain plug. I'll add one of those at the fluid change
Part of what prompted me was the experience of the Prius owners and their transaxle oil, which seems to be dirty every 40k miles or so. I didn't want to take a chance with the Volt.
The volt seems to keep its oil cleaner than the Prius though, so I'd have no concerns about 60k oil changes or possibly even the regular 97.5k change.
 

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But only oil analyses know for sure.
I was one of the posters on Gen3 Prius threads on this subject. (My pet peeve with the Prius.)

The Volt has a transmission fluid filter, but I read it is buried deep within and is not serviceable. So I will be adding a magnetic drain plug when I do my change, and I'll post the results of the oil analysis.

I also read that both these transaxles come from the same manufacturer.

Guess which one is a "Leap in Technology" ?

Thanks again for posting your experience and the quick version of the steps.
One note, the car should be level during the fill process. 4 jack stands would do that job.
 

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I'd like to attempt this job on mine but have had a look underneath and worry about getting enough clearance underneath to find the level plug (which I cannot see, even when I raised the front 4 inches).

If jack stands fail and it falls to wheel height, looks to me like I'll end up with a crushed skull and thorax!

Anyone got any sage advice on these points?

I was considering jacking the front of the car up so I can put ramps under the tyres and lower the car down on those (too low to drive on to them), then use the same jacks to level up the back. Thing is, I have some trepidation at stepping into a running car that is sitting on jack stands.

I guess I'd also have to strap the front tyres onto the ramps too, because when the back comes off the ground the car will otherwise shift/rely on its transmission lock.
 

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I'd like to attempt this job on mine but have had a look underneath and worry about getting enough clearance underneath to find the level plug (which I cannot see, even when I raised the front 4 inches).

If jack stands fail and it falls to wheel height, looks to me like I'll end up with a crushed skull and thorax!

Anyone got any sage advice on these points?

I was considering jacking the front of the car up so I can put ramps under the tyres and lower the car down on those (too low to drive on to them), then use the same jacks to level up the back. Thing is, I have some trepidation at stepping into a running car that is sitting on jack stands.

I guess I'd also have to strap the front tyres onto the ramps too, because when the back comes off the ground the car will otherwise shift/rely on its transmission lock.



Race Ramps RR-TJ Trak - Jax

I changed the 4ET50 Transmission fluid @17kmi ago when the mileage on my Volt was at 20k, I used the above low-profile ramps which gave me plenty of access to drain the fluid. In hindsight, I could have gotten the ramps including stops for the same price! Strapping the front tires IMHO would be a redundant step because after rolling the Volt onto those ramps and then engaging the parking brake twice, I confirmed there is no way the vehicle would move at that point!;)

I followed the Volt/Ampera service manual procedure and carefully measured the amount fluid that had drained and just refilled this same amount which was slightly more than the OP reported at approximately 6 Quarts of Valvoline DEXRON VI ATF that I used to refill. Unlike the OP, I chose NOT to remove the level plug...




FWIW: Volt/Ampera service manual Transmission Fluid Replacement procedure identifies the above marked location as the 'Oil Level Plug'
 

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Yes, that's pretty much how I lifted the car - but just using old wood planks stacked on each other to build up a step instead of a custom low angle ramp.

I was considering just being precise about measuring and matching the drained volume. I am sure I could do that accurately, but I am always a bit of a perfectionist and there would be a niggle that says 'was that the right amount in the first place'.

Anyhow, it is good to know someone else followed that strategy with no ill effects. I will consider it - it does make the job incredibly simple by doing that.
 

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You can actually remove the fluid level plug while the car is flat on the ground (not jacked up) to get the fluid to the correct level. Just turn the front wheels all the way to the right. It is a bit of a reach, but easier than trying to get the car level with jacks.
 

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I checked the recommended service intervals in the manual - on the 2013 - normal Tranny fluid change is at 97,500 miles and the severe use schedule is 45,000 miles. Quite a difference there. How do you really know then?

Are you "normal" or "severe" users of the car?

Here what Chevy thinks is severe used for the vehicle:

The Additional Required Services ‐
Severe are for vehicles that are:
. Mainly driven in heavy city traffic
in hot weather.
. Mainly driven in hilly or
mountainous terrain.
. Frequently towing a trailer.
. Used for high speed or
competitive driving.
. Used for taxi, police, or delivery
service.
 

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I say 'better safe than sorry'.
If you plan on keeping your Volt why not treat it well?

As for 'normal/severe duty' ,, who doesn't enjoy punching it now and then?

And for another $15 you can have an oil analysis done on a sample of the drained ATF.
That way you can share with the rest of us!
 

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Mine is a lease. I have 19k miles on it and about a year left on the lease. I won't get near the even the severe need. Was just curious of the other people uses just to see how stout the transmission is as well. Who do yo use for analysis, I typically use Blackstone labs, but they cost more than $15.
 

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Daks,
I go to the local Caterpillar service center and buy a kit which is a sample bottle and a prepaid padded envelope.
I get the results emailed to me. $15, or was the last time I used this service.
I had horrible results changing a '10 Prius at 112k miles for the first time. I changed it a few more times to get the crud level down.
I'm planning on doing the Volt at ~ 60k miles.
 

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Norton,

Thanks. I may try that too. So far it doesn't appear to be a crud issue with the Volts. Hope it stays that way! Blackstone is $25 but they mail you the kit for free...
 
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