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Check the Transmission Fluid

Check the Transmission Fluid

NOTE: Some vehicles do not have a transmission dipstick and so you may be unable to check the transmission fluid because the transmission system is closed.

The process of checking the transmission fluid is similar to checking oil levels. However, the transmission dipstick will have a hot and a cold range (some have high and low or min and max). Your owner’s manual will indicate whether you will need to perform a HOT or COLD check. A cold check is when your vehicle has not been running and the fluid has cooled. The hot check is performed while the engine is running. Mechanics disagree on which is the best method, however following the manufacturer’s recommendations for your specific vehicle is alway a good route.

Checking your transmission fluid every thirty days is a good way to keep on top of it. Transmission repairs are very expensive, so checking regularly could prevent you from having to pay for a transmission rebuild. You should also check your transmission fluid if your notice that your car is having trouble shifting or moving into gear.

Check Transmission Fluid – Cold

Locate the transmission fluid dipstick - check transmission fluid

1. Locate the transmission fluid dipstick. Your dipstick may be different. The handle is often orange or yellow, but this is not always the case. Your owner’s manual is the best reference for your vehicle.


Pull the dipstick out - check transmission fluid

2. Pull the dipstick out.

Clean the dipstick and replace it - check transmission fluid

3. Use a clean paper towel or rag to wipe it clean and then replace the dipstick.

Check the level of transmission fluid - check transmission fluid

4. Pull the dipstick out again and check the level by looking at the end of the dipstick. The transmission fluid level should be between min and max (some dipsticks may say low or high). If the fluid level is low (or nearly low) you will need to add more.

Check Transmission Fluid – Hot

The process is the same as the cold check noted above except:

1. Leave the vehicle running with the car in neutral with the emergency brake on.  The engine should be at normal operating temperature.

tipiconTIP: An easy way to determine normal operating temperature is to check the temperature gauge on your dashboard. This should be somewhere between hot and cold.

CAUTION: Avoid catching loose clothing and hair in hot or moving parts while working over a vehicle that is running.

2. When checking the dipstick the fluid should be near the hot or max mark.  If it is not at the hot or max mark, add a small amount of fluid and recheck as needed. Read the warning below before you add fluid!!!

WARNING: Transmission fluid expands as it heats, because of this you need to be very cautious NOT to add too much fluid. If the transmission is overfilled with fluid, the fluid could become foamy and this is very bad for your vehicle.  Also, be careful not let the transmission fluid overflow on to the engine.   If it spills, be sure to clean it up or it could cause damage.

If you decide you may need to get your transmission fluid changed, here is some information that may help.


About The Author

Pedals and Pumps

PedalsandPumps provides direct, honest information about car maintenance and repair. We provide money and time saving tips for readers who want to maximize their dollar and simplify their auto owning experience.


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