Leveling transmission for fluid change

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ramtruckrob

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I apologize for all of the posts regarding fluid changes but I can't find a definite answer to this question.

My 2013 ram 1500 sport with the 8 speed transmission has 110,000 miles and now that it's warming up I want to change the fluid. As a lot of people know, the dealer doesn't want to do it and shops charge a ton because it's a sealed unit....

Anyways, my driveway is fairly level front to back but slopes to one side (towards the left facing the house). I can park the truck sideways so the it is fairly level side to side and the front is lower than the rear. I've read that the rear needs to be higher than the front by several inches but no one seems to say the best way to check the level from under the truck. I've tried putting a small level on the screws for the trans oil pan but is that a good indicator? If I park with the front going down and get the back tires off the ground with jack stands, would that be good? Some people say the truck needs to be perfectly level on a lift but obviously most people don't have a car lift available to use.

To summarize: How are other DIYers verifying that the trans is level without a garage or other level surface to use?
 

EdGs

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Use a small level on the transmission pan rail, check front to back and side to side.

You will have to raise the rear tires 9 to 10 inches off the ground to get the trans level. I used a piece of 4x4 on a floor jack and lifted the pumpkin, then jackstands under the axle tubes.

Don't forget to block your tires or use wheel chocks

Level on a lift won't do as the trans points downward in our trucks.
 
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ramtruckrob

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Use a small level on the transmission pan rail, check front to back and side to side.

You will have to raise the rear tires 9 to 10 inches off the ground to get the trans level. I used a piece of 4x4 on a floor jack and lifted the pumpkin, then jackstands under the axle tubes.

Don't forget to block your tires or use wheel chocks

Level on a lift won't do as the trans points downward in our trucks.
This may sound dumb but the pan rail is just where the pan bolts to the truck right? That means I need to remove the old pan and then jack it up and put the level on it?
 

EdGs

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This may sound dumb but the pan rail is just where the pan bolts to the truck right? That means I need to remove the old pan and then jack it up and put the level on it?
Not dumb at all. There is enough of a lip where you should be able to get a level on it without removing the pan.

I would also recommend cracking the fill plug loose BEFORE draining the trans. Mine was super-tight.

I also leveled mine before any draining, etc.
 
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ramtruckrob

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Not dumb at all. There is enough of a lip where you should be able to get a level on it without removing the pan.

I would also recommend cracking the fill plug loose BEFORE draining the trans. Mine was super-tight.

I also leveled mine before any draining, etc.
I do have a hemi and I saw that bar going right under the drain plug and one of the bolts to take the pan off. Looks like a pita but doable. Also, I've done the other fluids (dif and transfer case) and I was sure to remove the fill plugs first to avoid not being able to put fluid back in. Those came off fairly easily and I'm hoping for the same with the transmission plug/pan bolts.
 
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ramtruckrob

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Also, if I park my truck sideways in my driveway it will be level side to side and about 2-3" high in the back which seems like it'll be helpful since I won't need to jack the back up quite as much. Definitely need to put something Infront of the front tires though.
 

Wild one

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Here's the instructions.The colder you have the transmission on the final check the better,122 is the "max" temp for checking it,if you can do it at 110F or colder it won't hurt. So start with a cold transmission,otherwise you'll exceed the checking temp,which is from 86F to 122F,that means don't start with the transmission already above 86F.
 

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ramtruckrob

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Can someone post a picture of where they placed the level? I went under again with a small 9" level and didn't see any lip on the rail besides where the bolts were. According to my 4' level my driveway is almost perfectly level front to back and about 2-3" higher on one side going side to side. Everywhere I put the small level under the truck showed different levels.
 

EdGs

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I cut down the short side of a 10mm allen key to loosen the drain plug, stubby keys would work, IMO.

I used a 8mm key for the fill plug, and did not have to cut down the short side. I did use a small pipe as a cheater for leverage.
 
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ramtruckrob

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Another question...

Is it acceptable to just basically drop and replace the pan/filter? I keep reading about my fluid being in the torque converter and how it's bad to mix the new fluid with the old. Is this a big issue? I don't see anyone draining anything other than the drain pan not do I see a way to drain the converter.
 

EdGs

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Another question...

Is it acceptable to just basically drop and replace the pan/filter? I keep reading about my fluid being in the torque converter and how it's bad to mix the new fluid with the old. Is this a big issue? I don't see anyone draining anything other than the drain pan not do I see a way to drain the converter.
I don't see how you would do that, so unless you have the transmission out of the truck, or had all the lines disconnected maybe you would get most of the fluid out.

Or flushing everything out with fresh fluid, but that would get expensive quick with OE fluid.

Quite a few members here have used the Valvoline Maxlife in their 8HP's with good results. It's about 1/4 the price of OE fluid. I am tempted to use it myself on my next service at 200k (<16k to go).

However, I would recommend if there is any kind of warranty in play, you should only use OE fluid.
 

EdGs

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Can someone post a picture of where they placed the level? I went under again with a small 9" level and didn't see any lip on the rail besides where the bolts were. According to my 4' level my driveway is almost perfectly level front to back and about 2-3" higher on one side going side to side. Everywhere I put the small level under the truck showed different levels.
There's a continuation of the the pan rail at one end of the trans, enough for a small level, IMO.

You could rest the the level across the pan screws, too. That would give you a good idea how level you are. You can also try this method to start with. It is very noticeable how angled downward the 8HP is in our trucks.
 

joesstripclub

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Another question...

Is it acceptable to just basically drop and replace the pan/filter? I keep reading about my fluid being in the torque converter and how it's bad to mix the new fluid with the old. Is this a big issue? I don't see anyone draining anything other than the drain pan not do I see a way to drain the converter.
This is basically the only way to do the fluid change. What I would recommend is after you change the fluid, drive it for 500 or 1000 miles until you have another free weekend and then drain and change the fluid again. You dont have to take the pan off the second time so it is a lot easier. Still need to do all the leveling and fill procedure though. This should get like 3/4 of the old fluid out. Can do it a third time if you want to but its probably overkill.

As far as leveling the transmission, I couldn't get mine up high enough to get it fully level and never had any issues with it. Close enough is within acceptable range of the transmission.
 

Afranky80

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I do have a hemi and I saw that bar going right under the drain plug and one of the bolts to take the pan off. Looks like a pita but doable. Also, I've done the other fluids (dif and transfer case) and I was sure to remove the fill plugs first to avoid not being able to put fluid back in. Those came off fairly easily and I'm hoping for the same with the transmission plug/pan bolts.
I have a 2015 and am currently refilling after swapping a valve body in my tiny apartment garage. I always remove that transmission support bar and crack the bolts on the headers that will allow the exhaust pipe to drop down enough to get a little hex head in between to drain the old fluid.

Side note: if you don’t want fluid draining all over the exhaust get you a small section of sheet metal, I’m an HVAC tech so it’s coming out my ears, but you can pick up a small piece from Home Depot or any hardware store. I bend the sheet metal up an inch or so on both sides and a couple in the back and wedge it in between the trans case and the exhaust pipe to redirect the fluid into my catch pan.

Are you replacing the trans filter?
 
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ramtruckrob

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I did this a few weeks ago and I ended up just letting the fluid leak on the exhaust. It cleaned up pretty easily and I didn't see any smoke from it. Since the filter is built into the pan I did replace the filter since I put a new pan that also had a built in filter. I was able to get the drain and fill plugs out with a set of stubby Allen keys that I bought just for this project. They were the perfect size on the 90 degree end and they are long to giveore leverage that I needed because the fill plug was on there really tight.
I have a 2015 and am currently refilling after swapping a valve body in my tiny apartment garage. I always remove that transmission support bar and crack the bolts on the headers that will allow the exhaust pipe to drop down enough to get a little hex head in between to drain the old fluid.

Side note: if you don’t want fluid draining all over the exhaust get you a small section of sheet metal, I’m an HVAC tech so it’s coming out my ears, but you can pick up a small piece from Home Depot or any hardware store. I bend the sheet metal up an inch or so on both sides and a couple in the back and wedge it in between the trans case and the exhaust pipe to redirect the fluid into my catch pan.

Are you replacing the trans filter
 

JJFW831

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When it came to using a level, I used a level called a line level, it's about 3'' long. Any hardware stores carry them, also called a string line level.
 

MRFREEZE57

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When it came to using a level, I used a level called a line level, it's about 3'' long. Any hardware stores carry them, also called a string line level.

I just used a tape measure and checked from the front and rear of the transmission pan sealing surface distance to the floor that they were even when the raised.
 

NETim

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I did a DNF on my '14 yesterday. After draining, I did a fill with all 4 tires on the ground. Then I leveled out the transmission. (Rear tires were about 10" off the ground.) I filled it again. I wasn't able to get much more into the transmission at that point.

I was able to check for level by putting a 6" torpedo level on the transmission body by the pan. There's just enough protruding to catch with the level.

I then followed the prescribed ZF procedure from then on out.

Truck still works. :)
 
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