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Old 09-25-2014, 10:35 AM   #1
weirdal1968
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First time ATF filter/gasket/fluid change - ATF dipstick question

2002 SE Wagon with 200K. Pretty sure it was on the original filter but the fluid had been refilled (but not flushed) thanks to a corroded cooler return line.

The pan removal went smoothly aside from the obligatory noob spill. Scraped off the factory seals and installed the filter and gasket from a kit. Tightened it up nice and snug but didn't crank it down hard with a ratchet. About 3.5 quarts ended up in the catch pan/driveway/my hair. Added 3 quarts of Mercon LV.

Per a youtube video I disconnected the ATF cooler return line and ran the engine until it filled the three ATF bottles to the top with a bit of overflow. Reconnected the line and added three quarts. I thought this should get me in the ballpark or even dead-on but I can't get a consistent dipstick read.

After sitting overnight the dipstick read dead middle but when I fired her up and ran through the gears the tip of the stick was barely wet. Added one more quart of LV. It seems like the tip picks up fluid in the tube and I can't get a good read. Sometimes the stick is covered on one side but dry on the other. I don't want it to be low but I've been told overfilling is just as bad.

WTF am I doing wrong? I pull the stick, wipe, reinsert and read with the engine running. Should I read the dry side or wet side or am I missing something important?


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Old 09-25-2014, 11:55 AM   #2
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Read the wet side.

Might just need to drive the car to work any air out. I'd say by measurement you should be close to just fine. So don't fret the dipstick anomaly too much.
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Old 09-25-2014, 04:16 PM   #3
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Incorrect, the DRY side, it has oil as well but not smeared too high like the other side. There is no such thing as a totally dry side, both get covered at same time, the wet one is from the twist of the stick as it goes in, it smears off tube pickup of oil to let at least let one side read true level. Use strong sunlight and engine FULLY warmed up, new fluid often does not have much dye in it and can be a b-tch to see the mark. LET the stick twist as it goes in, do not fight it at all, it makes the readings more consistent.

The twist in forces stick to wipe on one side, that wipes off oil in tube that would affect both sides, the driest side is your indicator always. Always do more than one reading too for verification. I do as many as 5. You can check out the idea of one side wiping more than the other on your engine oil stick, it does the same thing but more visible to give some idea there. Look how one side always smears much more oil than the other...................the side NOT to read. It squeegees off so other side is readable.
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