How to Check the Transmission Fluid on a Cadillac CTS 2004 With 3.6L HFV6

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The 2004 Cadillac CTS, a model that debuted just a year earlier, came standard with a 3.2-liter V-6 engine that cranked out a respectable 220 horsepower. For buyers who needed a little more “umph” out of their V-6 engine, Cadillac also offered the optional 3.6-liter, high-feature, V-6 engine -- typically called the HFV6, which pumped out 255 horsepower. Checking the automatic transmission fluid in the HFV6-equipped CTS is something Cadillac claims is unnecessary, so the car is not equipped with a transmission dipstick. For in-the-know mechanics who understand periodic inspection of the fluid is necessary, Cadillac did fit a check-and-fill plug on the transmission for checking the level.

Things You'll Need

  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands
  • Drain pan
  • Ratchet
  • Socket set
  • Shop cloth
  • Flashlight
  • Flexible-neck funnel
  • Dexron-III transmission fluid
  • Clean lint-free cloth
  • New check-and-fill plug gasket
  • Torque wrench
  • Start the CTS’s engine and allow it to idle until it reaches operating temperature --roughly halfway up the temperature gauge.

  • Hold the brake pedal and shift the gear shifter through all of the gears, stopping for two seconds at each gear. Return the gear shifter to the “Park” position.

  • Leave the vehicle running and carefully raise the front of the CTS with a floor jack, then slide jack stands under the vehicle’s frame rails. Lower the front of the car onto the jack stands.

  • Lift the rear of the car with a floor jack, and slide jack stands under the rear of the frame rails. Lower the vehicle onto the jack stands.

  • Crawl under the center of the vehicle, on the driver’s side, until you are near the rear section of the transmission.

  • Find the transmission check-and-fill plug near the rear of the transmission, just above the rearmost part of the transmission oil pan.

  • Position a drain pan under the plug and loosen the plug with a ratchet and socket. Remove the plug by hand, using a shop cloth to insulate your hand from the heat. Look inside the check-and-fill hole using a flashlight, and check for the fluid level. Do not insert your finger into the hole, as you may be severely burned. The correct fluid level is right at the base of the check-and-fill hole.

  • Insert a flexible-neck funnel into the check-and-fill hole, if the fluid level is low, and pour Dexron-III fluid through the funnel until it drips from the hole.

  • Remove the old gasket from the check-and-fill plug, then clean the plug with a clean, lint-free cloth. Slide a new gasket onto the plug, and hand thread the plug into the transmission. Tighten the plug to 15 foot-pounds, using a torque wrench and socket.

  • Lower the vehicle to the ground and shut off the engine.

  • Photo Credit chat9780/iStock/Getty Images
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