Transmission Additive Not Possible? Olds Cutlass 99

I’ve been having some minor slipping with my oldsmobile 99 I bought in the Fall. $1700, 126k miles. I have some Lucas Trans Fix, but there is no place to check the transmission fluid levels nor a place to add the fluid. After a little research, it seems that the engine must be serviced!

Is this true, or is there someway to get around this and add the fluid? If there’s not, I might get the tran flushed (though I’ve heard some disclaimers) and tell the mechanic to add the additive. How big of a hole could this end up burning in my pocket?

I can’t help you, but I would never buy a car that I couldn’t check or add fluid to the transmission. I realize that you didn’t know that when you bought the car, and I probably wouldn’t have either.

A basic transmission service, e.g., a filter and fluid change might be in order. And if the transmission is working well I would recommend you return the Trans-Fix. Lucas products are legitimate additives for specific problems and that one probably has its place but not as preventative maintenance. But hopefully Transman will get by soon for a more experienced opinion of that product and the proper way to check the fluid for the DIYer.

I know that some recently-built cars no longer have a transmission dipstick, but I was under the impression that GM products from that era do have a dipstick for the transmission.

Are you baseing your statement, “there is no place to check the transmission fluid levels nor a place to add the fluid” on simply a glance under the hood, or have you confirmed this information with the Owner’s Manual?

First off, I appreciate all the help big time.

My only concern with the filter/fluid change is if there’s a flush and there’s dislodged chunks and sludge, they could get lodged again and block the lines (a concern I read in several places after doing some online research). If I can get away with just a fluid/filter change and no additive, I’m more than happy to do so, although if it needs the additive I’d hate to have to pay for an hour of labor just so the mechanic can crack the tranny open again.

I went to autozone and (shh) opened the Haynes manual for my year, make and model. There is indeed no dipstick, and if I wanted to check the fluids I’d have to replace the whole pan. I did a good hour of research with the same results online - no dipstick for my make and model, and if I want to add fluid, there’s some sort of cap I can get off with a 7/16" and top off until it overflows. I’d rather a more official source back this up.

After looking at the diagram in the Haynes manual and reading, there is definitely no dipstick. Nothing in the owner’s manual, either.

If I were in your shoes I’d take the car to my local independent mechanic and let him change the transmission fluid and replace the filter (if there is one), but I would NOT use any additives.

Additives rarely fix anything, and can often make things worse. I don’t use them, and never will. They’re just false hope in a can.

A transmission FLUSH and a “Pan Drop with Fluid & Filter Change” are two very different animals. The first is hardly ever recommended (causes all sorts of problems in neglected trannys) while the later is the one you should do, and most importantly make sure that you get, when you pay for it.

My local Public Library checks out for 14 days at a time, all sorts of Haynes and Chilton manuals. You might want to give that a try as well :wink:

Under the Air Filter/ Intake box there is a red cap on the transmission for putting in fluid. There is no dipstick that I know of on a 1999 Cutlass with the 3.1 “J” engine. Another inovation from the GM folks. The Cutlass is just a Malibu in prettier clothing. The “drop the pan and change the filter” advice is right on the money. I don’t like additives either.

Take that nasty, gooey Lucas junk back and get your money back. You should take the vehicle to a transmission shop to be evaluated and possibly serviced. By all means, Do NOT open up the Lucas.


Let’s face the sad fact that you now have a transmission with a mechanical problem. The problem is not that there is no easy way to get into the transmission, but that likely the problem is internal to the transmission and it is going to take a transmission shop to correct it.

The sad part is that if the fluid been replaced at say 40,000 and 80,000 you now would be only looking at another fluid change and not a transmission repair.

We all would like it to be as simple as adding some fluid or changing the fluid now (after the horse left the barn) but that is not likely.

I suggest you start looking for a LOCAL, INDEPENDENT transmission shop. Check with friends and neighbors for a reference.

Thanks again for all the great advice. It seems the general consensus is to get rid of the Lucas. I’ll be taking the whip in to a mechanic from the mechanic section of this website in my area, one who’s already been fair to me. I’ll post back the verdict, and a very huge thanks again.

Somewhere on that transmission there is a fill/check plug, just like on a rear end. At 126K miles, Having the transmission serviced (pan removed, filter changed) might be worth doing, but you might be looking at a rebuild pretty soon…

Got the tranny serviced today. Had to be put up on a lift to keep it level and to access pan and such. No flush, just a filter change and fluid topped off. Took about 1.5 hrs, cost $167.50. Did I get Scooby Doo’d on the price or do you think this was fair?

Thanks again for all the help.