ATF Change (4T65E-HD) - What to do?

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Jun 9, 2014
Central Oklahoma
I will be changing the ATF in the SS very soon (100k). This is my first ever pan drop (with any car) so I am a little nervous. I bought the SS with 79k, so I am unsure what fluid is in there. But it looks/smells perfect, so I don't think it's the FF. I have spent stupid amounts of time researching this trans (4T65E-HD) and I still can't decide what to do. The trans actually performs perfectly (both before and after tune), which should come as a shock to those that know about them. I know I will be doing a pan drop and filter change. Here are my questions:

1. What filter should I use? I am debating between the Delco TF304 and the Wix 58837. I'm leaning toward the Delco just to avoid any headache.

2. Use a new gasket or re-use the old one? I am under the impression the old one is superior (material).

3. I am absolutely NOT a fan of additives (in motor oil) but I am kinda considering it for ATF. The only one I think I am considering is Lubegard. Is there a real benefit if I am using a good ATF to start with? I think I am going to use Valvoline's Full Syn Dex VI. I am a fan of synthetics. Thoughts on the fluid (s)?

4. OCI. What should my interval be? I am thinking either every 25k or every ~33k. I just don't have a lot of faith in this trans (again, based on LOTS of research). I definitely don't trust GM's 100k interval

I am being overly cautious because this trans is a well known problem child. I plan on seeing 300k+ on this car, so I'm looking for the best of the best, within reason.

Many thanks in advance!
Get a cordless drill you don't care about and a 10mm socket adaptor for it. Break the pan bolts loose with a ratchet but then use the drill to zip 'em off, and, potentially, on. (If the drill has the ubiquitous "clicky torque" chuck.)

The rest of your plan is spot on. Pave the garage floor with cardboard or newspaper, from tire to tire. Not so much to catch drips, but to catch bolts and keep sand from getting in their threads.

Sure, you say, you'll catch every bolt. Ambition only goes so far.

And wear something nasty. Even if you wear gloves you'll have ATF trickling down your forearms, at a point in the process where you can't or won't want to stop. If you look at the pan shape it has a built in funnel, try to unbolt stuff so it uses said funnel to your advantage. This is one of those things where experience helps though as it'll be dripping from the entire perimeter, and you may not want to reach through the drips to get that last bolt.
Oops, I forgot a question.

5. What's the best way to add/install a drain plug? (and why don't the manufacturers install them?
Wait, I remember, more money for them.) Is there a kit?

eljefino - Good advice, thanks! I tend to overlook the obvious when I overthink things. Not using a drill though. Again, overly cautious.
Good morning.

I'm not familiar with that vehicle, but:

The first time I removed my pan, I had a hex-nut welded to the outside.
I then drilled thru the pan and installed a 'magnetic' drain plug.

Now, once a year, I remove plug and drain into a graduated container.
Add same amount of new fluid.

Gasket - I hear some are reuseable.

When I tightened the bolts, I used a torque wrench.
Number the bolts [1, 2, 3, 4, ect] (or their location) in a zig-zag pattern. See manufactures recommendation.

Edit: It doesn't have to be messy.
I used a shallow pan 2 ft. in diameter. Had that pan sitting on a drip pan 3x4 ft.
Suggestion: I lowered the pan just enough to get a 1/4" flexible hose into pan and siphoned what was remaining in pan (before removing pan).
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4t65e-hd isn't a problem tranny. Millions on the road with very few issues. Don't lose sleep over it.

use any Dex iv with a bottle of lubegard platinum. Quality filter, use the pan gasket over. If you want a pan with a drain plug, Dorman makes one.

Buy this and it makes changing the fluid a breeze. Sits over a normal oil drain pan. Large enough so nothing runs on the floor and bolts can't drop into the drain pan-its drain has small holes so bolts can't fall thru.

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The 4T65 is a problem in this application since it was never meant to cope with the tire-shredding torque that LS4 is putting out, at least in stock form.

Delco filter, reusing the OEM gasket, full-syn Dex-VI, and changing it every 25k sounds like a solid plan.

Much easier and much neater to change the filter if the pan is pumped dry through the dipstick tube first. Even a $10 hand pump will do.
2007 Grand Prix GT with the 4T65E-HD here. Yes, it's a messy job; drips forever. 20 drain bolts. Dealer changed with filter at 66k, I changed at 110k; just fluid. Used Maxlife full synthetic and reused original gasket.
Car was on ramps so it was a little awkward using two hands to hold pan and gasket while trying to start the bolts back in.
No experience with a drain bolt, but you need to drop the pan to clean the magnet.
Great transmission.
Originally Posted By: tony1679
Oops, I forgot a question.

5. What's the best way to add/install a drain plug? (and why don't the manufacturers install them?
Wait, I remember, more money for them.) Is there a kit?

That's only part of the reason. Manufacturers that do have them have problems with DIYer's & techs getting the engine oil & trans oil drains mixed up...happens alot. Not having a 2nd drain plug down there solves that problem...
Change the atf on my sisters 05 Saturn with the 4t65e transmission at 125k for the first time for the car and me.Replaced the 7 quarts of dex-3 with valvoline full syn-dex vi.Replaced the pan with a Dorman with drain plug.Have drain the pan twice and refilled with valvoline with about 5.5 quarts.there is no dip stick for the trany-have to measure what came out.encounted 2 problems-could not get the old rubber o-ring out so installed new one over it.Broke off one of the 18 bolds using a HF torque wrench.At over 150k still running strong.
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