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HOW TO: Service "Lifetime Fill" Tranmission fluid for Diesel AW AF-40-6 Transmission

There seems to be quite a bit of apprehension in performing any kind of service on this transmission in our Cruze diesel that is labeled a "lifetime fill" by GM but has a 50k severe service schedule in many past vehicles containing this very same unit such as Volvos, Saab's, Ford Fusions... I poured over different sites for different car makes before attempting this. The data I obtained told me that AMSoil will work just fine and that using GM's AW-1 was not necessary. Your mileage may vary, attempt at your own risk ;)

I'm going to fill the transmission with AMSOIL Signature Series Fuel Efficient Synthetic ATF which is recommended by AMSoil for the AW-1 spec which our transmission calls for. GM AW-1 fluid is $22-25/liter and is mineral based. AMSoil is $8.90/quart for a full synthetic ATF if you are a preferred customer ($20/year). Easy call for me. Some people fear how can a fluid recommended in so many different transmissions truly meet the AW-1 spec. The answer is simple...the transmission specs for those units are pretty darn close. Despite what people may think there's no where near the variance in ATF that there is in different motor oils for instance. It will not void your warranty, we have nice laws to prevent that.

I did 3 drains and fills with 10+ miles of driving in between to get up to 98% of the original ATF full of break-in materials OUT.

What you need


- T50, T40, 12mm hex socket, 3/8 drive ratchet, 2 long 3/8 drive extentions

(Edit by diesel - The T50 size worked for me the first time, but stripped the plug the second time. There is some evidence online to suggest this may actually be a T55)

- Preferably 4 jack stands so you can lift the car up fairly level.
- 1/4 nut driver + flathead screwdriver OR grinder with cutting wheel :)
- 3 Quarts of appropriate ATF per drain and fill
- A marked container or some other method to accurately determine how much old fluid came out
- Long, clean funnel
- A bright light so you can see what you're doing
- Plenty of patience and free time

Step 1. Go for a nice 10+ mile drive so all fluids are 100% at operating temperature.

Step 2. Safely jack it up on 4 jackstands. Try to get it as level as you can.

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Step 3. Open the hood and find the fill plug. You can see it's in between the engine and the coolant reservoir. The second picture is to give you a better idea of the general area to look. I was surprised when I realized I would not have to remove anything to access it. Get your 3/8 ratchet with two long extensions and attach your T50 head onto it. It's very tight working but you can reach around the back side of the engine with your left hand fairly easily to meet your Extended T50 and guide it securely into the fill plug. There is some hose/cable kind of in the way but I just push it out of the way to get the T50 on there. Just get it finger loose for now until you're ready to fill so no dust/dirt/debris can get in.

You may be wondering..why is he taking the fill plug off first? In my extensive research there was one person who waited until 100k to try and do this and were unable to remove the fill plug because it had seized on causing him to strip plug and so he had to weld a nut on top to remove it. You shouldn't have an issue getting it off but if you do, stop here, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Side Note: I did come across someone who filled this transmission through the vent hose but that was just poor practice if you ask me, there could be some dirt or other debris in it that I don't want to wash back into my transmission.

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Step 4. Assuming you successfully were able to loosen the fill plug, grab your T40 and 12MM hex head with a ratchet and get under the car with a container to drain the old fluid into. I used a container with different measurements marked all over it. Now as you can see in the first picture there's a plastic cover in the way. There's a bunch of bolts and plastic rivet things holding it on. You can remove it to access the drain plug or if you are more about function over form take a cutting wheel of some sort and cut a hole in it exactly where the drain plug is for easy access! My drain plug already had some corrosion from the salt being trapped under that panel.

There are two drain plugs in one. Take your T40 and remove the first one letting all the fluid drain out. Next take the 12mm hex head and remove the whole drain bolt allowing the rest of the fluid to escape.

A little under 3 quarts came out each time I did my drain/fill. It did not look that great for only 16,000 miles. A very dark brown with a slight red hue. Once the draining is completed, re-install the drain-plugs. I do not know the torque values but don't go crazy, especially the little T40 plug doesn't take much.

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Step 5.
Using your fingers, completely remove the loosened fill plug. Insert your funnel and fill transmission with the exact amount of ATF that came out. Make sure the ATF used meets or exceeds AW-1 spec. Install the fill plug back in and again do not go crazy tightening it down, nice and snug is good enough.

Take the car off the jack stands for a nice 10+mile spin going through all the gears. I did this 3x to get 98% of the factory fill out and plan to do a single drain and fill every 30K from here on out. You will be surprised, the harshness of this tranny was gone IMO.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
sposed use new o rings/seals

could just turn the key on and off with the plug out and get majority of fluid out





Yes you are. I did not a usually do not every single time. Never had an issue. I do plan to replace next 30k drain and fill.

I am aware about bumping the starter or briefly running engine to get fluid from torque converter out, I decided to play it safe and see how the car ran each drain/fill being the guinea pig. If I had to do it all over again, I'd do exactly that. Also if someone doesn't pay attention they could cause damage to the transmission if they misunderstand and leave it run.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
That is more work than I am willing to do (go through the process 3 times of jacking the car up, etc.)

I will either change it at 50k or leave it have not decided yet.
I have the car jacked up in about 2 minutes but yeah it takes a couple hours to pay attention and do it right.

if you don't plan to keep the car past 100k or till the wheels fall off Id let it ride...
 

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Here is a link for more information on the AMSOIL Signature Series ATF. Note: this ATF is backed by a transmission replacement/repair warranty from AMSOIL should anything happen to the transmission that is caused by the fluid falling out of specification, and that guarantee is for 2x the severe service drain interval recommended by GM.
http://www.cruzetalk.com/forum/113-...l-efficient-automatic-transmission-fluid.html

Here is more information about our Preferred Customer option:
AMSOIL Preferred Account Registration

KpaxFAQ, thank you for putting this tutorial up. You've done the Cruze Diesel community a good service.

Did you notice any difference with the AMSOIL fluid over the OE fluid? You mentioned some harshness.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The transmission isn't so clunky, especially when cold. I gave it an italian tuneup after the last change on some hills trying to create any slippage and I couldnt.

I put this same fluid in my wifes 07 civic doing 3x drain and fill with great results as well.
 

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Epic post Kory.

Sounds like a great way to spend a warm weekend.

Sadly those seem to be gone from these parts for the next five months.
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Greetings,
I am new to this sort of thing & this is my first post on any kind of web blog. I have a 2014 CTD. My question is can you run a hose down the filler hole and suck it out?
You may be able to get some out that way but think of the debris that settles to the bottom of the transmission, I'd want to bottom drain personally. Also remember this transmission does not have a filter just a pickup screen I'm guessing for larger initial break in materials.

I was kinda disappointed that the drain plug didn't even have a magnet of some sort.

It couldn't hurt to try, I'm sure it's way better then nothing at all and maybe I'm over thinking the bottom drain.
 

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Awesome writeup! Thanks for posting it. This looks a LOT better to do than I thought it would be from the previous research I did. I didn't even know there was a fill plug. I haven't decided how long I am keeping mine, so not sure if this is a job that I will do or not, but it does not really look bad at all. I would be curious to see what my fluid looks like after 88K miles though. I take it there's no filter?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Awesome writeup! Thanks for posting it. This looks a LOT better to do than I thought it would be from the previous research I did. I didn't even know there was a fill plug. I haven't decided how long I am keeping mine, so not sure if this is a job that I will do or not, but it does not really look bad at all. I would be curious to see what my fluid looks like after 88K miles though. I take it there's no filter?
Yeah I was expecting to be taking the ECM and battery out and all of that....It was a relief to not have to do anything other then cutting the access port because the little plastic cover is actually kind of a pain under the car with jack stands...it wouldn't be as annoying if you were standing under a lift.

No filter...just a pickup screen from what I understand. I'm guessing just to catch any larger initial break in material.

I'd bet I could do a 3x drain and fill in under 2 hours next time knowing what I know now. That includes driving in between.

The more I've done some maintenance on this car the more I realize it's not as poorly laid out as I originally thought. It's a matter of figuring out the best way, it doesn't just stare you in the face like my wife's civic for instance.
 

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Well Kory, we should stop by when we're down Erie way for Lordstown and have a transmission clinic at your place.
 
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Yes Excellent write up. I just wish I had so much "real estate" in a heated/neat garage.. If I did,l I would be tempted to try that on my Eco with a 6M. I see that the diesel still has the engine shield. I thought they took that off all Cruzes? Not so much of a fire hazard with the diesel oil if it spills ?
 

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the shop I work in just bought a new machine where a small tube goes in the dip stick tube or fill hole an draws 2 litres out an then puts 2 clean litres in , then repeats until the stuff coming out is nice an clean . takes 12 to 14 litres depending how dirty it was. takes about 15 minutes while the engine is running. gets all of it including torque convertor.................. but I think I will still just do a drop an top every 30,000 miles with amsoil to keep it good.
 

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Yes Excellent write up. I just wish I had so much "real estate" in a heated/neat garage.. If I did,l I would be tempted to try that on my Eco with a 6M. I see that the diesel still has the engine shield. I thought they took that off all Cruzes? Not so much of a fire hazard with the diesel oil if it spills ?
good luck getting diesel to burn
 

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the shop I work in just bought a new machine where a small tube goes in the dip stick tube or fill hole an draws 2 litres out an then puts 2 clean litres in , then repeats until the stuff coming out is nice an clean . takes 12 to 14 litres depending how dirty it was. takes about 15 minutes while the engine is running. gets all of it including torque convertor.................. but I think I will still just do a drop an top every 30,000 miles with amsoil to keep it good.
Dang your shop has some cool stuff. Every time the snapon truck drives away from me I feel like they took my paycheque with them. Well actually they did.

Need to to stop by that shop of yours next time I'm at Rama and get me a tranny slurp and spit.
 
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