I was trying to change the oil on a Chevrolet 2008 Suburban, and didn't know quite what I was doing. I used Motor Medic Motor Flush, and it said that if the car was over 75,000 since it had last been done, the oil pan should be dropped and cleaned. I'm not sure if this is actually true, since the actual oil pan looks almost impossible to remove (lots of stuff in the way). But regardless, I ended up removing the transmission fluid pan by mistake, and most of the fluid has now spilled out. Not quite all of it, though, since some actuator cable mount is holding on to one corner, and I couldn't get the pan quite all the way off. I've put the pan back up with two bolts so it isn't just hanging by that corner. Can I just bolt it all back together and add transmission fluid, or perhaps get a technician to add some after I've reassembled it? Or, have I badly messed something up by draining it like this?

Should I try to remove the last little bit of fluid? How much fluid should I put in / what is the correct level on the transmission fluid dip stick?

The vehicle is currently empty of oil with a new filter installed.

  • 1
    As a head's up - you rarely need to remove the actual oil pan itself. They all have a drain plug that can be removed and used to gravity drain the oil. Removing the pan is usually for a rebuild or similar.
    – SnakeDoc
    Commented Jan 10, 2023 at 20:00
  • @SnakeDoc - GM didn't put a plug in most of these transmissions. (No plug in 4L60e, which is in the 1500. Some 6L90e's had a plug, but I think that was in the ones used in cars like the Camaro. The 2500 Suburban came with a 6L90e, which is maybe 10% of the Suburbans out there.) Commented Jan 12, 2023 at 13:53
  • @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Not the transmission - the oil pan itself for the engine. That should have a plug. OP maybe didn't locate it though, and was led to believe removing the pan was normal for an oil change.
    – SnakeDoc
    Commented Jan 12, 2023 at 19:10
  • 1
    @SnakeDoc - I see what you're saying. Since this question primarily concerns the transmission pan, that's what I thought you were pointing at. My apologies. Commented Jan 12, 2023 at 20:24
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    @TheLabCat Fair enough. Sounds like a PITA! Some of these things are designed assuming only a professional shop with a lift or pit will provide the service - much to the DiYer's dismay.
    – SnakeDoc
    Commented Jan 12, 2023 at 21:09

1 Answer 1


While it's inconvenient, there's no reason you can't resolve this yourself.

The transmission fluid pan has a single-use gasket on it, if you just bolt it back on you run the risk of fluid leaks, which could lead to a very expensive problem if you run out of fluid.

While you could bolt it back on and chance it, the better thing to do is to take it off all the way, and do the routine maintenance tasks of a transmission fluid change, which is totally doable at home:

  • Replace the transmission fluid filter
  • Check for metal in the pan and clean any shavings off of the magnet
  • Clean the pan edge and transmission housing edge thoroughly to get all traces of the old seal off
  • Put the pan back on with a fresh gasket. You'll need a torque wrench for this part, I think it's 8 foot-pounds
  • Refill with fluid, I think it will be Dextron VI for that year but you should check, and you'll probably need about 5 quarts. It's important to do this properly or you could damage your transmission. First with the engine off fill with fluid until it just registers on the dipstick. Then start the engine and run it through the gears, taking your time, holding the brakes and keeping your foot off the accelerator. Check the fluid level and incrementally add small amounts of fluid, running through the gears each time until you get to the right amount on the dipstick. It's very important not to overfill

The filter and gasket should come as a kit, some kits will also have the right kind and amount of transmission fluid as well. A fresh filter and fluid will extend the life of your transmission, so it's good maintenance anyway. There are videos on the web for your make and model, have a look and see if there are any gotchas, it's usually a straightforward process though.

  • 5
    Since the OP is obviously a novice, I'd suggest a little more detail in your answer, such as DO NOT overfill the transmission. Pour enough in until it reads on the dipstick (not running), then start the engine and run it through the gears (easily and slowly without driving, foot on the brakes). Check the fluid with it running on level ground. Look to see how much more fluid is needed and add that amount, then run it through the gears again. Do this until full. Dexron VI can be used and is backwards compatible with previous Dexron iterations. Since it is synthetic, it is highly recommended. Commented Jan 9, 2023 at 22:20
  • Good call @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2, I've done that.
    – GdD
    Commented Jan 12, 2023 at 13:28
  • Too late, I’ve already done the whole thing. 😰 Nothing, uh, broke though. I put the bolts back on a bit tighter than they started out with, and it looked like the fluid was on the right spot on the dipstick.
    – TheLabCat
    Commented Jan 12, 2023 at 20:49
  • Like, next time you’re giving an answer, please don’t leave out a detail, let alone an entire last step, that isn’t going to be in the average YouTube video, and apparently is the part that actually could break the entire transmission.
    – TheLabCat
    Commented Jan 12, 2023 at 20:53

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