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Old 08-28-2004, 11:15 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 3
Transmission fluid level - '84 380SL

OK - here's the stupid question of the day....

I've always checked transmission fluid acccording to owner manual instructions - i.e. parked on level surface, engine idling, transmission in "Park", fluid at operating temperature.

Recently, doing some other work on the car, I just happened to check the fluid cold - engine not running - and it appeared to be way over the full mark. I started the car, let it warm up and checked again - this time just below the full mark.

Everything I've read says it should be exactly opposite - i.e. level should be lower when the fluid is cold (engine not running) and higher when fluid is hot (due to expansion) and engine idling.

Am I missing something? Is this normal, or does this indicate some sort of transmission problem? How do I know what is the proper level given this seemingly contrary situation?


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Old 08-28-2004, 03:49 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Evansville WI
Posts: 9,616
With the engine off the pumps aren't running, so all the fluid is in the bottom of the case or in the torque converter. Some of the fluid I believe may even drain out of the torque converter with the engine off. So that's why you end up with a high dipstick reading, even with cold fluid. When the engine is started the fluid begins to circulate though the transmission, with varying amounts of pressure, this brings the fluid level down. Then you are correct, as the fluid heats up it expands and the level increases again.


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