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Transmission fluid 280z 1978


dylancorrea1

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Is it possible to drain and refill transmission fluid, without lifting the car? I could take to a shop to get it lifted by the tires and have them change it, but I want to save money since I’m 18 and in college. I’ve heard you can refill using the reverse light method but I have no clue what they are talking about.

 

 

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Is it possible to drain and refill transmission fluid of a manual transmission 280z, without lifting the car? I could take to a shop to get it lifted by the tires and have them change it, but I want to save money since I’m 18 and in college. I’ve heard you can refill using the reverse light method but I have no clue what they are talking about.
 
 
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The only way to get to the drain plug is underneath. The easiest way to remove the fill plug is underneath. NEVER attempt to drain the transmission without first verifying you can open the fill plug. Yes, you could fill at the reverse switch, but that is a pain, and again, you have to be under the car to get to that.

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The only way to get to the drain plug is underneath. The easiest way to remove the fill plug is underneath. NEVER attempt to drain the transmission without first verifying you can open the fill plug. Yes, you could fill at the reverse switch, but that is a pain, and again, you have to be under the car to get to that.

I’ll probably have to get a shop to do the change then sadly, thank you.


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10 hours ago, dylancorrea1 said:


I have jack-stands and a jack but the car has a rusty frame rail which I don’t worsen by putting weight on, so it must be lifted by the tires.


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Lift the car at the center of the front cross member, the one the engine sits on then put a stand on either side of the jack, that will give you lots of room to get in from the sides.

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12 hours ago, dylancorrea1 said:


I have jack-stands and a jack but the car has a rusty frame rail which I don’t worsen by putting weight on, so it must be lifted by the tires.


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Firstly, you never lift a Z using the frame rails under the floors - even if they were brand new. 

Secondly, Whenever possible use Granny's advice and lift the front using that big plate in the center of the front crossmember.

Thirdly, When using a floor jack (not a scissor jack, not a bottle jack), we lift the differential in the rear and then place jack stands. There are a few "hard points" in the rear to help.

Fourthly, The 280's added a lot more heft to the unibody and were strengthened in specific spots underneath (meaning: there are big beefy steel plates under there that the earlier Z's either didn't have - or were not as strong). You should learn those spots, they will help with lifting and supporting if you need to work underneath.

Fifthly, be absolutely certain of your jack stands if you're working to replace the transmission fluid. In most cases both the fill plug and drain plug have been over-tightened and many people have struggled to get them loose. That means you're putting a lot of torque into it, may having to use a "cheater" for leverage - you don't want the Z to come down on you while you're under there.

Sixthly, When you put the plugs back in, don't over-tighten them!  There is no pressure on the fluid inside. Use Teflon tape (or anti-seize) on the threads and only tighten them to snug. You just want them just tight enough so that they don't leak - and done.

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Don't forget the scissor jack on the rocker sill point for lifting.  Might as well try it to see if you'll be able to change a flat tire because that's all you'll have and that's how it's done.  You'll still want jack stands before you crawl under.

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Don't forget the scissor jack on the rocker sill point for lifting.  Might as well try it to see if you'll be able to change a flat tire because that's all you'll have and that's how it's done.  You'll still want jack stands before you crawl under.

Ive changed the tires before all 4 at once, but I forgot where i lifted it from, but will do.


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Firstly, you never lift a Z using the frame rails under the floors - even if they were brand new. 
Secondly, Whenever possible use Granny's advice and lift the front using that big plate in the center of the front crossmember.
Thirdly, When using a floor jack (not a scissor jack, not a bottle jack), we lift the differential in the rear and then place jack stands. There are a few "hard points" in the rear to help.
Fourthly, The 280's added a lot more heft to the unibody and were strengthened in specific spots underneath (meaning: there are big beefy steel plates under there that the earlier Z's either didn't have - or were not as strong). You should learn those spots, they will help with lifting and supporting if you need to work underneath.
Fifthly, be absolutely certain of your jack stands if you're working to replace the transmission fluid. In most cases both the fill plug and drain plug have been over-tightened and many people have struggled to get them loose. That means you're putting a lot of torque into it, may having to use a "cheater" for leverage - you don't want the Z to come down on you while you're under there.
Sixthly, When you put the plugs back in, don't over-tighten them!  There is no pressure on the fluid inside. Use Teflon tape (or anti-seize) on the threads and only tighten them to snug. You just want them just tight enough so that they don't leak - and done.

Thank you so much, for the advice ill get right to look for these spots to lift the car and do a transmission fluid change, and probably a oil change while I’m at it.


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On 8/21/2021 at 7:29 PM, dylancorrea1 said:

 

Is it possible to drain and refill transmission fluid, without lifting the car? I could take to a shop to get it lifted by the tires and have them change it, but I want to save money since I’m 18 and in college. I’ve heard you can refill using the reverse light method but I have no clue what they are talking about.

 

 

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On top of everyone's useful information, once you've got the car on jack stands - give the car a nice hard shake on all four corners before you go under if you wanna be safe. Worst case, the car falls down with a crash, but that's better than dying or being in a wheelchair! On top of that, throw the wheels down under the car if you've got them off to be extra safe. 

And, to answer one of your questions, the switch for the reverse lights mount to the transmission, but I don't know why someone would put the transmission fluid in there since there's a fill plug. Maybe you could do that if the fill plug just won't come off...? At any rate, the fill plug is on the upper half of the transmission, if I remember correctly - though, I have a 4-speed 240 transmission so it could be different. 

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13 minutes ago, siteunseen said:

I used a 24" x 1/2" breaker on my drain plug. I put a small bottle jack under the handle to loosen it. I swear it lifted the car off the jacks before it broke loose. LOL

 

I used a hammer and a wrench - a bit more primitive. 

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11 minutes ago, dylancorrea1 said:


Would an impact wrench work?


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I doubt you can get on it with an impact. The plug are square. Either square head or square recess. I believe the fill aught to be square head and the drain plug square recess if they're in the proper location. A 1/2" breaker bar aught to fit the square recess well enough. The fill plug is normally the problem

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2 hours ago, dylancorrea1 said:


Would an impact wrench work?


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NO! One false move, and you would be looking to pay for a replacement transmission. You want to remove the plug, not break the case. 

For the fill plug, find a thick 19 mm or 3/4 inch open end wrench. Use a brass hammer, deadblow hammer, or rubber mallet to hit the wrench to loosen it. If it doesn't want to turn, try turning it SLIGHTLY clockwise (tighten) and try to loosen again. Also as stated elsewhere, heat can help.

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9 hours ago, Namerow said:

Don't consider heat as a 'last resort' strategy.  Instead, make it part of your basic strategy.   

As mentioned by someone else earlier, don't use a flame source (i.e. don't use a torch).  Instead, use an electric heat gun (inexpensive, easy to find, easy and fairly safe to use).  I would suggest that you heat the area around the plug for about 2 minutes.  Then you can go with whatever wrench strategy you decide to use.   

The square-head type of plug (whether male or female) isn't designed for high-torque, so it's not too hard to round off the corners if you get sloppy.  Make sure that you choose a wrench that fits as closely as possible.  In fact, a pipe wrench (a big one) may prove to be the most suitable because these are designed to self-tighten (if you use them properly, that is).  Another option is an 8-point ('double-square'), 1/2"-drive 17mm socket fitted to a 24" breaker bar.  The type of socket that I'm talking won't be available at your local tool store.  You can order one from Toolpan.com ($7.50), but it may be a few weeks before they can ship. 

No matter what wrench you choose, one of the challenges can be positioning.  With a four-sided plug head, a pipe wrench can only be installed in four positions -- i.e.  stepping around the plug head at 90-degree intervals.  An open-end wrench is much the same, although they're designed so that the wrench end is about 10 degrees off centre, meaning that if the plug head is oriented at 12 o'clock / 3 o'clock / 6 o'clock / 9 o'clock then the wrench end will be at (for the 3 o'clock example), either 2:45 or 3:15, achieved by flipping the wrench over.  The double-square socket on a non-ratcheting breaker bar will let you adjust the breaker bar position at 45-degree increments.

Here's a thought for the fill plug. Use a 3/4 to 1/2 socket reducer (https://www.amazon.com/TEKTON-47823-4-Inch-2-Inch-Reducer/dp/B000NQ4R4G) to go on the male plug. Grip the socket reducer with a pipe wrench for leverage. I would think that would be difficult to round the fill plug.

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On top of everyone's useful information, once you've got the car on jack stands - give the car a nice hard shake on all four corners before you go under if you wanna be safe. Worst case, the car falls down with a crash, but that's better than dying or being in a wheelchair! On top of that, throw the wheels down under the car if you've got them off to be extra safe. 
And, to answer one of your questions, the switch for the reverse lights mount to the transmission, but I don't know why someone would put the transmission fluid in there since there's a fill plug. Maybe you could do that if the fill plug just won't come off...? At any rate, the fill plug is on the upper half of the transmission, if I remember correctly - though, I have a 4-speed 240 transmission so it could be different. 

I’m not yet super comfortable under the car, its surprisingly heavy for 3200 pounds, but I will definitely give it a nice shake, I actually do have a spare tire it came with. I remember seeing a forum where you could fill from top but I was skeptical.


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I wouldn't but a 1/2" drive would work. I'm old fashioned and my manual torque is what I go by. An impact gun could damage something before you realize it. My $.02.

I’ve never really trusted them, but I heard they are better for removing bolts than actually tightening, the PO used a impact wrench all over the place. Since everything looked forced and was stripped (starter, radiator, the protective pan under car, bolts in trunk).
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