2006 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx Transmission Fluid Level

  • 3.5L
  • V6
  • FWD
  • 188,000 MILES
My wife's car is a 2006 Chevy Malibu Maxx. We bought the car a year ago as a beater to get her back and forth to work, about 8 miles a day. It currently has 188k miles on it and I would like to see it hit 200k before I scrap it, but I am not willing to put a bunch of money into it so I would like some constructive advice.

I am a computer repair guy with enough auto repair knowledge to make a real mechanic mad, so feel free to bash me for my obstinance and bad decisions before providing your constructive advice. I have included a lot of detail because I don't know what will strike a chord.

This adventure started when the car began lurching every once in awhile while accelerating. Not very much, but just enough to notice. Felt like the transmission slipping a little to me. It was also shifting a little hard into reverse and drive when sitting still. It has no dipstick. Sealed, dealer service, all that jazz. I will not go into my thoughts on that. So, I did my online research and found out that there is a sight hole on the tranny. Everything I read said that you make sure the car is running, at operating temperature, and level and add fluid until it starts coming out the sight hole. OK, sounds simple enough. I planned to top it off with LG Red, drive it for a week, then drop the pan, change the filter and refill it with new fluid.

I have a nice level spot where I can pull up over a depression and slide under the car. I ran it to operating temperature, shifted through the gears slowly several times, and crawled under with my trusty drain pan. I started loosening the sight plug and fluid started dribbling out. I figured someone had added an extra quart sometime, so I let it dribble... and dribble... and dribble.

After two quarts, I went back to the computer and reread all of the information I had found, thinking I had missed something. Again, everything indicated adding fluid until it comes out the sight hole, indicating that it is full. (All the web pages and diagrams are listed below.)

Back under the car, I kept draining. I ended up with over 6 quarts of fluid. OK, I am questioning everything now, but figuring somebody just overfilled it since there is no dipstick and information is so hard to find. I shifted through the gears, and it was smooth as glass (not good as you will see). I put it in reverse and backed up a few yards, then pulled forward. It seemed sluggish. Back and forth just a few yards several times. About the fourth attempt to pull forward, it would not move. Engine revs, no pull. Well, obviously that amount of fluid was necessary. Not having planned well apparently, I did not have 6 quarts of new fluid and the wife took my truck to work while I worked on this. I added the quart of LG Red and the one new quart I had on hand, then used coffee filters to filter the old fluid before adding it back in. It is dark, but still red and no funny smell. (Drain pan was new and clean, so no weird contaminants.)

It started pulling again, thank God. I drove it slowly around the block a couple times, but it keeps dropping into limp mode. I have a BT OBDII scanner. The output is included below. (Ignore the P0401. That is for a different day.)

1) What am I doing wrong on the fluid level check? I followed all instructions and when I get the level at the sight hole the car stops moving. (Photo of sight hole included just in case I am opening the wrong one.)
2) Is the P0756 something I damaged in this process, or possibly the original problem?
3) Why are there 6 quarts of fluid ABOVE the sight hole?


Error Codes
Exhaust Gas Recirculation Flow Insufficient Detected

Evaporative Emission System Vent Valve/Solenoid Circuit
Ambient air temperature (AAT) 77 °F
Catalyst Temperature Bank 2, Sensor 1 (CT21) 58.0 °F
Distance traveled since codes cleared (CD) 0 mi
Accelerator pedal position E (APPE) 0.0 %
PIDs supported [41 - 60] 01111110110100000000000000000000
Commanded throttle actuator (CTA) 16.07 %
Barometric pressure (BP) 1.0069101678183614 Atm
Short term fuel % trim Bank 1 (STFT1) 0.0 %
Relative throttle position (RTP) 0.0 %
Commanded evaporative purge (CEP) 0.0 %
Absolute load value (ALV) 21.96078431372549 %
Engine coolant temperature (ECT) 71 °F
Intake manifold absolute pressure (MAP) 0.29615004935834155 Atm
Vehicle speed (Speed) 0 mi/h
Long term fuel % trim Bank 2 (LTFT2) -3.12 %
Long term fuel % trim Bank 1 (LTFT1) -6.25 %
Catalyst Temperature Bank 1, Sensor 1 (CT11) 58.0 °F
MAF air flow rate (MAF) 7.23 g/s
Absolute throttle position B (ATPB) 0.0 %
EGR Error (EGRE) 0.0 %
Calculated engine load value (EngineLoad) 25.09 %
Command equivalence ratio (CER) 0.86 N/A
Timing advance (TA) 8.0 °
Engine RPM (RPM) 1065 rpm
# of warm-ups since codes cleared (NWarmUps) 1 N/A
Short term fuel % trim Bank 2 (STFT2) 0.0 %
Throttle position (TP) 16.07 %
Control module voltage (CMV) 11.753 V
PIDs supported [21 - 40] 00000000000111111110000000011001
Intake air temperature (IAT) 77 °F
Fuel system status (FSS) Openloop:insufficientenginetemperature
Evap. System Vapor Pressure (VP) 0.23692003948667326 Atm*E-03
Accelerator pedal position D (APPD) 0.0 %
Commanded EGR (EGR) 0.0 %
Fuel Level Input (FLI) 67.45 %

Shift Solenoid "B" Performance or Stuck Off
Do you
have the same problem?
Friday, May 9th, 2014 AT 10:48 AM

2 Replies

The pic shows the correct place to check fluid level looks like you did a pressure line. Also you must remove the vent cap prior to checking fluid. The fluid being dark is not a good thing if it was more to the blacker color you probably have either a seal or clutch problem and will be due for a rebuild. But don't try to replace fluid to fix it cause it will go faster. The P401 is an eger problem see if the hole in intake is plugged and pipe for that matter as this can set that as well. Cold be an egr valve as well. For the 449 code test to see if the valve gets power if not then it will need to be smoke tested to see where it leaks or if a bad valve. For the 756 code is a 2-3 shift solenoid and that can be caused by a bad solenoid, contaminated fluid which sounds like your case, plugged or restricted fluid circuits.
Was this
Friday, May 9th, 2014 AT 12:41 PM
Thanks hmac300.

Yes, I was opening the wrong hole (smacks head on wall). The one I circled IS an 11mm plug, not a line, so I don't feel completely stupid, I was just not far enough back under the car. Rookie mistake, I know. I found the other one and will be much more attentive in the future. Still had to remove a little over 2 quarts, so with all of the draining, filtering and refilling I still think there was at least one quart too much.

I will be spending Mother's Day under her car trying to resolve the remaining issue, which is the "P0756 Shift Solenoid "B" Performance or Stuck Off" error. I think that was probably the original problem, although it was not throwing a code yet. Fluid is dark, but still fairly red, not dark brown or black.

Thanks for the advice on the other codes. Those have been on my to do list for a few weeks, just have not had time.
Was this
Sunday, May 11th, 2014 AT 1:06 PM

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