How to check transmission fluid is an essential skill for car owners who want to ensure the proper functioning and health of their vehicle’s transmission system. Checking the transmission fluid level is an easy and quick preventative maintenance task that can help you avoid costly repairs and potential issues in the long run. The transmission fluid, also known as automatic transmission fluid, plays a critical role in the transmission system by lubricating and cooling the transmission’s moving parts.
To check the transmission fluid level, you will need to locate the transmission dipstick under the hood of your car and read the fluid level based on the dipstick’s markings. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind to get an accurate reading, such as the temperature of the transmission fluid and the level surface of the car.
In this article, Riches Towing will guide you through the step-by-step process of how to check the transmission fluid in your car and discuss potential problems and issues you might encounter, such as low transmission fluid levels, leaks, and damage to the transmission system. So, let’s get started and make sure everything is in good shape before your next long trip, as serious damage can occur if the transmission fluid sits at a low level for a long time.
Identifying The Type Of Transmission
Whether you’re buying a new car or performing routine maintenance on your current vehicle, it’s essential to know the type of transmission your car has. Automatic and manual transmissions have different requirements for servicing and maintenance, so identifying which type of transmission you have is crucial. In this article, we’ll go over the differences between automatic and manual transmissions and how to check the transmission fluid for each type.
Automatic or Manual Transmission
The two main types of transmissions are automatic and manual. An automatic transmission uses a hydraulic system to change gears automatically, while a manual transmission requires the driver to change gears manually using a clutch pedal and gear shifter.
Automatic transmissions are the more popular choice among drivers, as they require less effort to operate and can be easier for beginners to learn. They also tend to be more expensive to repair and service. Manual transmissions are less common but are preferred by some drivers who enjoy more control over their vehicles. They also tend to be more fuel-efficient and have lower maintenance costs.
Location of the Transmission Dipstick or Fill Plug
Checking the transmission fluid is an essential part of maintaining both automatic and manual transmissions. To check the transmission fluid, you’ll need to locate the transmission dipstick or fill plug. For automatic transmissions, the dipstick is usually located under the hood, near the back of the engine. The dipstick should have markings indicating the proper fluid level for your car.
For manual transmissions, the fill plug is usually located on the side of the transmission case. To check the fluid level, you’ll need to remove the fill plug and check that the fluid level is up to the bottom of the fill hole.
Preparing To Check Transmission Fluid
Checking the transmission fluid in your car is an essential part of routine maintenance, and it’s crucial to prepare properly before you start the process. Below, we’ll cover the three most important steps you need to follow to prepare for checking the transmission fluid.
The vehicle Must Be On A Level Surface
Before you start checking the transmission fluid, it’s crucial to make sure your vehicle is parked on a level surface. If your car is parked on an incline, it can cause the fluid level to appear higher or lower than it actually is, which can lead to inaccurate readings.
To ensure that your car is parked on a level surface, find a flat, even area to park your car. You can use a level tool to check the surface, or you can visually inspect the ground to make sure there are no noticeable inclines or declines.
The engine Must Be Turned Off
The next step is to turn off the engine before you check the transmission fluid. It’s crucial to turn off the engine because the fluid level can appear higher or lower when the engine is running, which can lead to inaccurate readings.
To turn off the engine, cause sure the car is in park or neutral, engage the parking brake, and turn off the engine. Once the engine is off, you can move on to the next step.
Transmission Fluid Should Be Warm
The final step is to make sure that the transmission fluid is warm before you check the fluid level. Warm transmission fluid is thin and flows more easily, which can lead to more accurate readings.
To warm up the transmission fluid, start the engine and let it idle for a few minutes. You can also take a short drive around the block to warm up the transmission fluid. Once the transmission fluid is warm, turn off the engine and move on to the next step.
Now that you’re prepared to check the transmission fluid, you can move on to the next step. In the next section, we’ll cover how to check the fluid level and top up if necessary.
How To Check Transmission Fluid (Automatic Transmission)
Once you’ve prepared the vehicle and warmed up the transmission fluid, you can move on to the actual process of checking the fluid level. In this section, we’ll cover how to check the automatic transmission fluid in your car.
Step 1: Locating The Dipstick
The first step is to locate the dipstick for your automatic transmission. The dipstick should be located near the back of the engine, under the hood. To make sure you have found the correct dipstick, look for a label or marking that indicates it is for your car’s automatic transmission.
Step 2: Checking The Fluid Level
Once you have located the dipstick, pull it out and wipe off any dirt or debris with a clean rag or paper towel. Reinsert the dipstick and pull it out again. This time, check the fluid level on the dipstick and make sure it is within the proper range, as indicated by the markings or labels on the dipstick.
You can see more about “How To Add Transmission Fluid Without Dipstick?“
Step 3: Topping Up The Fluid
If your transmission fluid is low, you’ll need to top up the fluid to bring it back into the proper range. To do this, fill a clean container with new transmission fluid that is designed for use in your car’s automatic transmission system. Then, open the hood and locate the transmission filler tube. Once you have found it, slowly pour in fresh transmission fluid until it reaches the correct level. Make sure not to overfill; doing so can cause damage to your vehicle’s transmission.
Step 4: Finishing Up
Once you have checked and topped up the transmission fluid, make sure to close the dipstick and replace the filler tube cap. Then, start your engine and check for any leaks or other signs of trouble. If everything looks good, you can go ahead and take your car for a test drive to make sure that there are no issues with shifting or performance.
That’s it – you’ve successfully completed checking your vehicle’s transmission fluid! Be sure to check the fluid level regularly to ensure that it is within the proper range; doing so will help extend the life of your car’s transmission system.
How To Check Transmission Fluid (Manual Transmission)
If you own a car with a manual transmission, checking the transmission fluid is a straightforward process. Unlike automatic transmissions, manual transmissions don’t have a dipstick to check the fluid level, so the process is a bit different. Below, we’ll guide you through the steps to check the transmission fluid in a manual transmission.
Step 1: Park on a Level Surface
Before you start, make sure to park your vehicle on a level surface. This will ensure that the fluid readings are as accurate as possible. If your car is parked on an incline, it can cause false readings and could lead to damage or other issues.
Step 2: Remove The Filler Plug
The second step is to remove the filler plug from the transmission housing. This will allow you to check the fluid level without having to open the transmission itself. Once you have removed the filler plug, take a clean rag or paper towel and wipe away any dirt or debris that may be present on it or around it. Then, use a flashlight to see if there is enough transmission fluid in the case before proceeding further.
Step 3: Checking The Fluid Level
Once you have removed the filler plug, use a flashlight to inspect the fluid level. If it is not within the proper range, as indicated by the markings on the plug or housing, you will need to top up the fluid.
Step 4: Topping Up The Fluid
To top up your manual transmission’s fluid level, you will need to purchase a new transmission fluid specifically designed for your car’s make and model. Once you have bought and opened a container of new transmission fluid, slowly pour it into the housing until it reaches the correct level. Then, replace the filler plug and check for any leaks or other signs of trouble.
Step 5: Finishing Up
Once you have topped up the fluid and double-checked for leaks, start your engine and go for a drive to make sure that everything is working properly. There should be no issues with shifting or performance if you followed the steps correctly. Be sure to check the fluid level regularly to ensure it remains within the proper range; this will help to extend the life of your car’s transmission system.
That’s it – you’ve successfully checked and topped up the fluid in your manual transmission! Now that you have everything back on track, make sure to keep an eye on the fluid level to maintain optimal performance for your vehicle.
Remember: checking the transmission fluid is a key part of regular maintenance for any vehicle, and it’s especially important for those with manual transmissions. Following these steps will help to ensure that your car runs smoothly and efficiently for years to come.
FAQs about How To Check Transmission Fluid
Did you check the transmission fluid while the car is running?
No, you should check the transmission fluid while the car is off and parked on a level surface. Running the engine while checking or topping up can cause damage to the transmission system.
How often should I check my vehicle’s transmission fluid?
It is recommended that you check the transmission fluid about once a month or every 15,000 miles, whichever comes first. Doing so will help to extend the life of your car’s transmission system.
Can I use any type of fluid to top up my transmission?
No, it is important that you use a fluid specifically designed for your car’s make and model in order to avoid any potential damages or issues with performance. Be sure to consult an automotive specialist if you are unsure which kind of fluid is right for your vehicle.
Should you check transmission fluid is hot or cold?
It is a good idea to check the fluid at both cold and hot temperatures, as this will give you a better picture of your car’s overall condition. Ideally, it should be checked after the engine has been running for 10-15 minutes so that the fluid has had time to warm up.
Is it OK to drive with low transmission fluid?
No, driving with low transmission fluid can be very dangerous to you and the vehicle, as it can lead to extreme damage to the transmission. It is important that you check and top up the fluid regularly in order to keep all of the essential components that keep the car running smoothly.
Can I just add transmission fluid instead of changing it?
Yes, you can add new transmission fluid without completely draining the old fluid. However, it is important to note that in some cases, you may need to drain the existing fluid and replace it with a new one. Be sure to consult an automotive technician if you are unsure what steps need to be taken.
What color should transmission fluid be on the dipstick?
Transmission fluid should be a bright, pinkish-red color when it is in good condition. If the fluid appears to be dark or cloudy, it may be time for a change.
What does bad transmission sound like?
Bad transmission can often be identified by strange noises coming from the engine such as grinding, whining, or humming. If you notice any of these sounds, be sure to take your car in for an inspection as soon as possible.
Will the check engine light come on if the transmission fluid is low?
Yes, in some cases the check engine light could pop on if the transmission fluid is low. It is important to get your car inspected as soon as possible so that any issues can be addressed before they cause serious damage.
How much does it cost to change your transmission fluid?
On average, it will cost anywhere from $100 to $250 for a transmission fluid change. The amount can vary depending on the make and model of your car as well as where you have the work done. Be sure to consult an automotive specialist if you are unsure what kind of service is necessary.
Conclusion for How to Check Transmission Fluid
How to check transmission fluid is an essential skill that every car owner should know. Checking the transmission fluid regularly can help you catch potential problems early, preventing costly repairs down the line. Whether you have an automatic or manual transmission, following the proper steps to check the fluid level can ensure the proper functioning of your vehicle’s transmission system.
Remember to always park on a level surface, turn off the engine, and wait for the transmission fluid to warm up before checking the level. With a clean rag or dipstick, you can easily check the fluid level and add more fluid if necessary. By performing this simple maintenance task regularly, you can help ensure the health and longevity of your vehicle’s transmission system.
So, share this post with your friends, car enthusiasts, drivers, vehicle owners, and neighbors. Help spread the word on how to check the transmission fluid and promote preventative maintenance for the better functioning of your vehicles.
William Moore is an automotive specialist with two decades of experience, ready to give your car the care it needs. He understands all facets of auto maintenance and repair, from oil changes to brake jobs. Working with the latest tools and technologies, he provides complete service on all makes and models of cars. With his attention to detail and commitment to quality workmanship, you can expect excellent results.