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Old 07-03-2008, 03:24 PM   #1
broons1
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2003 VUE 3.0L
Question 2003 SAturn Vue Transmission Fluid Service

Just got a used 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0, 6cyl , automatic. Need procedure to change transmission fluid. also, what kind of fluid to use and tools needed. Appreciate all ideas/help I can get.

Last edited by broons1; 07-03-2008 at 03:25 PM.. Reason: additional information

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Old 07-18-2008, 01:27 PM   #2
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Default Re: 2003 SAturn Vue Transmission Fluid Service

The fluid is Toyota T-IV. The dealer has it as 'GM IV'. Also, Valvoline Max Life Dex/Merc is rated for most any trans service including T-IV. The change is easy, but some things have to be prepared first. You will need 4.5 quarts of fluid. You will need a long, skinny funnel with a small end to fit in the dipstick tube. I bought one at NAPA with a 12" section of clear tubing and a little fitting on the end with a cap. I had to go to the hardware store and buy a longer piece of vinyl tubing - I figured I needed about 14". Interestingly, the end fitting has a flange in the middle that the spring clamp on the dipstick tube snapped over to conveniently hold the end piece inside the dipstick. You must get your funnel right before letting the old oil out. Now you'll need a large flat pan - any oil change container that will fit under the car will work. I didn't know how far the old would shoot out when I took the plug out, so I used an old large kitty litter pan. I knew I had been saving it for ten years for something. Turns out the oil doesn't come out with much force, so a regular round oil change container would work. Now you need a 15/16" socket, wrench or adjustable wrench for the trans drain plug. The fluid should be warm, doesn't have to be hot. Drain it and take the drain plug and blast the steel dust off the magnet on the end of the plug with brake cleaner. After draining, replace the plug and snug it down until it stops, then just give it another little tug to be sure. Don't put your weight on the wrench. At this point I used a calibrated clean milk jug to determine exactly how much oil came out. The book said 4.5 quarts and it was right, so everybody else can skip that step assuming the trans had enough fluid in it to run properly. Now the fun part - make sure the funnel end is in the dipstick tube and start pouring in the 4.5 qts. When finished, you're done. You now have replaced about half of your trans fluid, for a 1:1 ratio. If you do it again at the next oil change, you'll then have a 3:1 ratio of clean:dirty oil. One more time in six months and you'll be at 7:1, which is good enough. Anyway, now is the time to drive it around and warm up the trans for checking the fluid level. When you get back, look under there for leaks. The problem now is you may have trouble getting your hand down to the dipstick with the engine running, which is how the fluid is checked. I have to shove my left arm down there up to the armpit, then use the thumb to pull back the spring clamp while the other fingers pull up on the 'button' on top of the stick to release it. Then you wipe it, replace it, pull it again and this time read it. It could be on the 'hot' mark, 1/8" over or even 1/4" under and its okay. I cut the 'button' off the top of my dipstick, clamped a 2" piece of 1/4" Fuel Vapor hose over the remaining stem, then put a 8" piece of 1/4" wood dowel rod in the other end of the hose. This makes it a world better getting to the stick, but I still reach down to the dipstick tube to pull the clamp back when removing the dipstick.

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Old 07-20-2008, 11:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: 2003 SAturn Vue Transmission Fluid Service

A Fumoto valve with the nipple, if it will fit, would be perfect for a drip free ATX fluid change on this vehicle. You can just attach a small section of hose and put it in a container and open the valve...

I don't remember draining the ATX being a problem on the HondaMatic. It was uneventful.

I do have memories of the red fluid flying out of my SC, and the huge belches when I put the fluid back in. The first eruption wasn't very pretty...

...
2006 Black VUE Red Line - Now running iOS 7 Beta 7

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Old 07-21-2008, 07:11 AM   #4
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Default Re: 2003 SAturn Vue Transmission Fluid Service

An '03 Vue does not have the Honda trans and does not use the Honda fluid. It would be better to take it to the retailer for service. While the tools are conventional, it can be tricky since the trans is very sensitive to under or overfilling. You can search this forum. Someone has posted their method for doing it.

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Old 03-02-2010, 03:29 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2003 SAturn Vue Transmission Fluid Service

Hello everybody,

Des somebody have a clear procedure of how to change and check the transmission fluid on a 2003 Saturn Vue with 2.2l engine and VTi transmission (all well drive)?
I will need all the help that you can provide.
Respectfully,
Octapus

PS
The most confusing info in All Data info is the recommendation to use the filling orifice that is located on the very bottom of the transmission. How can I fill the transmission using the bottom orifice without to have the fluid purring down through the same hole?
And how do I know that the transmission is "full" if the fluid keep purring until it (the transmission) is empty again????

Thanks again

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Old 03-02-2010, 05:43 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2003 SAturn Vue Transmission Fluid Service

I'm not familiar with the VTI, but what they mean by 'the bottom of the transmission' is a dipstick with yellow handle way down at the back of the engine where it meets the transmission on the front driver's side. Look all the way down and you should see it. Again, I don't know about the VTI but most automatics should be fully warmed up and have been driven and then parked on a level surface with the engine running in Park and the parking brake set firmly. Withdraw the dipstick (if you can snake your arm down to it without getting burned) and wipe it clean. Put it back in and draw it out again. This time observe the appearance of the fluid and the level on the stick. The stick should have a mark for 'Full Hot' or something similar. Your VTI does require special fluid - do not put regular ATF in it.

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Old 03-02-2010, 06:16 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2003 SAturn Vue Transmission Fluid Service

Your better off letting someone change the fluid who has access to a gm tech 2 scan tool or a scanner that will read live data. You need to know what the trans fluid temperature is for refilling the transaxle. Draining it is simple, just remove the drain plug. The drain plug has an allen plug in the center, you have to remove that from the plug, install drain plug in trans. Next, take about 3/4 of a gallon of the new fluid and put in top of trans through fill opening. Then, using a scanner to view trans fluid temp, start engine, add fluid to trans until it runs out the drain on the bottom, then install allen plug. Now, to completely fill correctly, based on trans fluid temp, add a certain amount of fluid, based on fluid temperature. The amount of fluid added is determined by fluid temperature. That info. is probably only available at the dealer. Oh yeah, it takes a special fluid as well, greenish in color, don't use anything else. That trans has fluid pressure as high as 700psi. I highly recommend that a dealer do this. This is in response to octapus, not the original poster.

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Old 03-02-2010, 06:31 PM   #8
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Default Re: 2003 SAturn Vue Transmission Fluid Service

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1saxman View Post
.... Your VTI does require special fluid - do not put regular ATF in it.
Thanks for the quick replay.

I asked the parts-guy from dealership and he had a lot to share with me about this particular VTi.
The bottom plug has a middle screw that has to be taken out to rlease the extra-fluid, the rest of the plug has the shape of a pipe that holds the required fluid in transmission; when taken out completely, it let drain about 4.5 Qts of fluid!!!!
Yes, I did purchase the correct fluid+additive; the cost for 5 Qts of fluid and a syringe with additive is ......$100.95!!!!!

I will add details in case I have interesting news.
Oh, I almost forgot that the "filling orifice" from the bottom is named so0mehow wrong in ALL DATA, the transmission has also a TOP orifice with a black cover and is recommended to be used as FILLING orifice instead, after the bottom one (with pipe shape) is put back but, having the middle little screw taken out to permit the release of extra fluid.....

Thanks again for responding.

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Old 03-02-2010, 11:04 PM   #9
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Default Re: 2003 SAturn Vue Transmission Fluid Service

Read what I wrote, the black cap on the valvebody cover is where you fill it, not through the drain plug pipe.

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Old 03-04-2010, 08:44 AM   #10
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Default Re: 2003 SAturn Vue Transmission Fluid Service

Man, what a PITA the VTI was, in every sense of the phrase. Sorry about my inaccurate info. I should have shut up since I've never worked on a VTI.

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Old 03-06-2010, 04:44 PM   #11
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Default Re: 2003 SAturn Vue Transmission Fluid Service

The service interval on the 03 VUE (Aisin transmission) was changed from 100K to 50K miles. PTU and RDM are still at 60K miles.

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Old 03-07-2010, 08:17 AM   #12
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Default Re: 2003 SAturn Vue Transmission Fluid Service

is the VTI like all of the other CVT's ive seen? essentially a beefed up "snowmobile transmission" ? Ergo, a beefy belt with 2 pullys that change diameter.

Everyone I've been able to find info on is built this way, from Subaru, to Toyota. And they ALL have reliability complaints. Probably due to the fact its a snowmobile drive design

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Old 03-07-2010, 10:16 PM   #13
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Default Re: 2003 SAturn Vue Transmission Fluid Service

There is a lot of info spread around the site on the VTi trannies. It is, as you described, a pulley that is fit between two coneshaped discs.

I don't have a VTi, but I read here that the Saturn tranny (made in Eastern Europe) was designed for a lighter vehicle (Ion). The VUE weighs a lot more, and hence the problem.

Nissan has invested heavily in CV trannies. They use them in the lightweight cars (Sentra) and all the way up to the Maximas and Muranos. It will be interesting to see how their service record turns out in a year or two.

The CV has just a few moving parts. A conventional automatic tranny has a whole lot more (~100). From a design standpoint, the CV looks good. But the application has not been a success for GM.

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Old 03-26-2010, 10:56 AM   #14
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Default Re: 2003 SAturn Vue Transmission Fluid Service

I have a 2004 Vue with a small leak from the left drivers side. Just lost my job so I want to fill it. I found the black cap you all were speaking of and the drain plug. I see that there is an allen cut in the middle of the drain plug. Do I unscrew just the middle of the drain plug and stop pouring in when fuild comes out to set the level. Seems like the entire drain plug will drop out?

I have some T1 and just want to add a little. Also I suspect that the seal repair is not cover by GM?

Thanks,
MArc

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Old 03-26-2010, 11:18 AM   #15
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Default Re: 2003 SAturn Vue Transmission Fluid Service

Quote:
Originally Posted by marcm612 View Post
I have a 2004 Vue with a small leak from the left drivers side. Just lost my job so I want to fill it. I found the black cap you all were speaking of and the drain plug. I see that there is an allen cut in the middle of the drain plug. Do I unscrew just the middle of the drain plug and stop pouring in when fuild comes out to set the level. Seems like the entire drain plug will drop out?

I have some T1 and just want to add a little. Also I suspect that the seal repair is not cover by GM?

Thanks,
MArc
Mark, which engine do you have and is it a standard or auto ?

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Old 03-26-2010, 05:47 PM   #16
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Default Re: 2003 SAturn Vue Transmission Fluid Service

Marc I am assuming this is the 2.2L with VTI, so I will post these instructions for adding fluids

trans. Fluid Checking
Install a scan tool.
start the engine.
park the vehicle on a level surface.
press the brake pedal and move the shift lever from PARK to REVERSE for 10 seconds.
press the brake pedal and move the shift lever from REVERSE to DRIVE for 10 seconds.
move the shift lever back to PARK. The engine should remain running.

remove the plug from the center of the fluid fill lower tube. The fluid fill lower tube is located on the bottom of the unit.

Do not use ATF . These fluids are not compatible with this transmission.
Use DEX-CVT fluid.

If fluid drains down as a steady stream from the opening, wait for it to stop. If fluid does not drain from the opening, add more fluid until it starts to drain as a steady stream, then stop adding fluid immediately. Allow fluid to drain until the fluid stream stops.

The normal use color for DEX-CVT fluid is green or light brown. Fluid may also turn dark brown from normal use, and does not always indicate contamination. Fluid that is very dark or black and has a burnt odor usually indicates contamination or over-heating.

Inspect the fluid color.
Inspect the fluid for metal or other debris which may indicate transaxle damage.
Inspect the fluid for a cloudy or milky appearance which may indicate engine coolant contamination.

Replace the lower fill tube plug. Tighten
Tighten the plug to 11 Nm (97 lb in).

This is were things get stupid,
You may be able to use a digital point and shoot thermometer on the pan for the temps instead of a scan tool but that sir I DO NOT KNOW
Hope this helps you out !!

On the scan tool, observe the Trans. Fluid Temp. and record the temperature.
If the Trans. Fluid Temp. is 20C (68F), add 0.5 qt (0.47 liter) of fluid to the transmission. Do not remove the plug.
If the Trans. Fluid Temp. is 40C (104F), add 0.75 qt (0.71 liter) of fluid to the transmission. Do not remove the plug.
If the Trans. Fluid Temp. is 60C (140F), add 1 qt (0.95 liter) of fluid to the transmission. Do not remove the plug.
If the Trans. Fluid Temp. is 80C (176F), add 1.25 qt (1.18 liters) of fluid to the transmission. Do not remove the plug.
I guess this is were you would add from the black plug mentioned above

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Old 03-26-2010, 09:16 PM   #17
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Default Re: 2003 SAturn Vue Transmission Fluid Service

When I take out the center part of the drain plug on the bottom drivers side of the tran. all of the fuild won't drain out? Does this have to do with shifting 10 secsintervals in drive-reverse-park first?

I assume only any excess will come out in the pan if there is any? I am afraid I will empty out the 7+ quarts in the trans.


Also is this why the car vibrates when I brake?

I have the vti 2.2 liter - love the Vue but not the trans!

Thanks,
Marc

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Old 06-21-2010, 12:00 AM   #18
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Default Re: 2003 SAturn Vue Transmission Fluid Service

Where is the black cover? The one that you use to add new fluid? On top of the valve body? Does that mean the valves of the engine or the valves of the transmission?

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Old 10-18-2010, 01:00 PM   #19
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Default Re: 2003 SAturn Vue Transmission Fluid Service

I have a 2002 Saturn Vue with the VTI Transmission and the 2.2 4 cyl engine, all wheel drive. I was driving down the road and stopped at a red light, when it turned green, it wasn't going anywhere it would just rev up, luckily reverse still worked and I was able to back it into a nearby parking lot. Any Ideas? I am thinking (and hoping) it just has a fluid leak. I am wanting to refill it, is there a dipstick on the VTI to check to see if it is low and if this is the problem? Any response would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 10-18-2010, 04:00 PM   #20
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Default Re: 2003 SAturn Vue Transmission Fluid Service

Quote:
Originally Posted by marcm612 View Post
When I take out the center part of the drain plug on the bottom drivers side of the tran. all of the fuild won't drain out? Does this have to do with shifting 10 secsintervals in drive-reverse-park first?

I assume only any excess will come out in the pan if there is any? I am afraid I will empty out the 7+ quarts in the trans.


Also is this why the car vibrates when I brake?

I have the vti 2.2 liter - love the Vue but not the trans!

Thanks,
Marc
Braking vibration comes from the front brake rotors, and to a lesser extent from the rear brake drums. Have brake service done on it. The least you can get away with is taking off the front rotors and refacing them. This will give you smooth braking for a period - maybe short, usually no more than 20,000 miles.

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