I filled my transmission up to capacity specifications and checked my dipstick accordingly to the owners manual but the fluid doesn’t reach the cross hatched lines. Shoud I go by the capacity specifications or the dipstick?

I filled my transmission up to capacity specifications and checked my dipstick accordingly to the owners manual but the fluid doesn’t reach the cross hatched lines. Shoud I go by the capacity specifications or the dipstick?

Dipstick. Just be sure the fluid is warm and the engine is running when you check it.


Owners manual specs how to check every car is different. My truck specs in drive w brakes applied after driving five miles level surface engine coolant temp 170 min and first shifting through all gear settings.

If the dipstick doesn’t show full it isn’t. Otherwise what’s the point of having a dipstick?

Well if that’s the case, what’s the point in having capacity specifications? Called for 7.4 quarts, I put that in and the fluid isn’t reaching the crosshatched section of the dipstick. Thoroughly followed the directions for checking transmission dipstick in my owners manual.

Checking automatic transmission fluid is tricky on some cars. You don’t get all the old fluid out from just pulling the drain plug, and the engine has to be warm and running while you check it. The “capacity specification” is just a guideline.

I only did this job once, and after that I decided it wasn’t worth doing myself. I filled my mother’s Sienna up, drove it around the block, checked and added fluid, and then repeated the process until it showed full on the dip stick. It’s easy to overfill if you don’t pay attention to what you’re doing, so you have to be careful and spend a lot of time on it.


It depends on the car maybe. Bought a used 2017 Acadia limited, 1 week later decided to check all the fluids. Trans fluid no reading in park while running and warm. Took it to the dealer, showed the salesman, he called a tech. Tech comes out and says put it in neutral with the brakes applied, checked it and reading was fine. go figure. It came with a 1 year bumper to bumper warranty, so I am not too worried. Trans change in the book at 50k, but will probably have it done at 30k when the next oil change is due.

Is that for a pan drop to change the filter, or for a completely empty transmission.

If for a pan drop, you may have been low before dropping the pan.

So you know how much to have on hand to refill it. If it says 7.4, you’ll buy 8, pour in 7.4 and top off with the other 0.6 quarts as needed.

If the manual spec’d out 7.7 qts to refill and you add 7.7 and it is over filled, it is a pain to take some back out.

There is some variation here due to build tolerances and oil cling. Cling is the film all over everything that doesn’t come out if the change took 20 minutes instead of letting it drip out overnight.


Well what’s interesting is I dropped the pan and measured what came out and it was almost 7.4 quarts. Normally when you drop the pan only like half the fluid comes out. In my case it appears it all came out. So I filled it with 7.4 quarts and it’s not reaching my dipstick. I added another half of a quart and still no dipstick reading. I’m just a little leery because I don’t want to damage anything. Keep in mind that I’m doing exactly what the owners manual says to check my transmission fluid dipstick so that’s not the problem.

…but were you able to measure the amount you cleaned from the inside of the pan and sopped up with rags? Was there any accidental spillage?

I wouldn’t spend too much more time pondering this. Even when my motor oil shows as full on the dip stick and I drain the filter, I always take out less than I put back in during an oil change. The same goes for manual transmission oil and coolant. It’s just one of life’s mysteries.

Have you tried checking the backside of the dipstick for fluid level,as it will sometimes show the level when the hatched side won’t,especially when the fluid is new since its super thin.

Capacities are usually listed as drain and fill versus completely replaced. I didn’t notice it mentioned what year your Lesabre is but here’s what’s shown for a 2004 as an example:


Engine, with filter…4.5 quarts [1]
Cooling System, Initial Fill…10 quarts
Passenger Car & Light Truck Antifreeze & Coolant
AMSOIL Antifreeze and Engine Coolant
Automatic Transmission, 4T65-E Initial Fill…7.4 quarts
Automatic Transmission, Total Fill
4 speed 4T65-E…13.4 quarts

[1] After refill check oil level.

I suspect your transmission was a little low when you started the job.


Mines a 2003. Where did you find that? This information helps a lot!

Now if we only new what the fluid level was before draining,

You may have been low before draining.

Was the level correct the last time you checked it before dropping the pan?

Yes but I checked it 2 years ago when I first bought the car. I’m not the most responsible car owner!

There are people here that do a lot more checking than I do, not saying it is right, you are not alone!

A large amount of that 13.4 quarts is retained inside the torque converter,some in the hoses that go to the radiator & also the fluid cooler.Thats one reason why you have to fill the converter up with fluid before/
when doing a torque converter/ transmission install.


Now just make sure to see how much more fluid you need to add to bring it up to the correct level on the dipstick. A pint or two, not such a big deal. But if it was significantly low, you’ll want to look around to see where it was leaking from. Leaks never seem to get better for some strange reason :wink: