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Drove M6 1 QT low on transmission fluid, any serious damage?

This is a discussion on Drove M6 1 QT low on transmission fluid, any serious damage? within the Manual Transmission forums, part of the Drivetrain category; I just bought a 1997 LT1/T56, drove it home (600 miles) with the SES light on. The clutch had just ...

  1. #1
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    1997 Trans Am ws6

    Drove M6 1 QT low on transmission fluid, any serious damage?

    I just bought a 1997 LT1/T56, drove it home (600 miles) with the SES light on. The clutch had just been changed and I figure they didn't check the fluid level after (if?) they refilled. I was easy on the car on the way home, honestly didn't do much shifting, no hard driving etc.

    I had a little trouble with hesitation when I was at low RPMs (1500 and below) trying to accelerate, most noticable in 5th and 6th.

    No real burning smell. I made the mistake of adding trans. fluid before checking the condition of what was already in there. I had to add in about 1 QT +/-. The guy I bought the car from wants to help me take care of it (I questioned about it before I left, he said to take the car home and he'd pay to have the SES light checked out and fixed).

    I'm going to the dealer tomorrow morning (Tuesday 8:30 EST) to have them check and clear the code, what do you guys think is the likely damage? What is most susceptible to damage first?

    There is pretty dramatic improvement in shifting into all gears with the right amount of fluid in there. No noticable problems now, no leaks thus far either. Any help is appreciated.

  2. #2
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    You should have no problems at all. Some peaople who road race , dump a qt and have no probs. There would be no code set by this BTW.

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    The SES code didn't have anything to do with the transmission, but that worries me more. I just can't help but think that running low on any fluid is a bad thing, that the fluid that was in there would have over heated and started to break down (and stopped protecting as well). Why would someone road racing purposely drain out trans fluid?

  4. #4
    Junior Member stevo5662's Avatar
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    1998 Z28 6-speed

    maybe they didnt drain any out. they could have simply just not added enough. and i dont think a quart low would have hurt you to bad. maybe if you drove it for a long period of time. i work in a lube shop and i see the horrible things people do to their vehicles every day and they just keep on going. I saw a saturn come in 2.75 qts low and the whole engine only takes 4! and its still running. Now without a doubt running low on oil does cause more wear but as long as you you added some to it or had it changed ytou should be ok dont worry about it.

  5. #5
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    If you think about it: the trans holds approx 4 qts of oil so 1 low is-25%. Seems like alot to loose but consider that the trans depends on "splash" lube . That is ,there is no oil circulating pump so lubrication depends on flinging the oil around in the box by the rotating members. While draining oil out would lessen this function and maybe affect long-term wear, you stated you operated your car carefully and only a short distance. You bring up anothe oils function=cooling The circulation of the oil carries heat from the gear meshes and radiates it through contact with the case casting. These are air-cooled devices and , yes lower oil level on the street may compromise this function . Again , you had to real time in this condition so there is little-to-no risk you affected the trans life adversly.
    In the case of road racing , several factors are changed. The splash lube funtion is enhanced by throwing a car into the curves so lower level is plausible. The cooling function is changed for several reasons. Churning of oil produces air bubbles in the oil. These bubbles hold heat.Lower level actually lowers the opertating temp. Lowering the oil level to the point that excessive churning is gone is a racers "tune". Add to this that many add an external cooling pump & circuit change the equation all together for the track..

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