Transmission Fluid

Regular Transmission Fluid Checks

Transmission Fluid Checks & Maintenance

Checking your transmission is an important part of vehicle maintenance, so you should develop a routine of checking your transmission fluid regularly to detect any problems.  This will also help you avoid leaks and low fluid levels. Follow these easy steps to check the transmission yourself:

  1. Prepare a clean white cloth
  2. Park the vehicle on a level surface. If your car sits on an incline, you’ll get an inaccurate reading on the dipstick.
  3. Start the vehicle and allow it to warm up, unless the owner’s manual states otherwise.   (Note:  Some vehicles gain an accurate reading differently).
  4. Pop the hood and locate the transmission fluid dipstick (check your owner’s manual).
  5. Caution, fluid may be hot! Carefully pull out the dipstick, wipe clean, and re-insert. Pull out the dipstick again and note the markings. There should two marks, an upper and lower fluid limit. The fluid line should be between the two markings. If the fluid is below the lower mark, you’ll need to add more fluid to avoid problems.
    • Refilling fluid: Carefully add your fluid to the transmission reservoir, using a funnel will make it easier. Continually recheck the dipstick to ensure it does not overfill.
  6. Check Color, Smell, and Consistency
    • Color: Transmission fluid needs to be bright to dark red or light brown in color. The newer the fluid, the brighter red it will be. Fluid that is a dark brown color indicates you should get a fluid change, and a black color can be a sign of transmission problems.
    • Smell: New transmission fluid is odorless or clean smelling. You or your mechanic needs to check out any burning smell immediately.
    • Consistency:  You will notice signs of car trouble in the consistency of transmission fluid so look for visible shavings or large particles. You can also tell that the wrong fluid was used if it appears foamy. If your transmission fluid is a thick consistency, don’t worry, that is sign of healthy fluid.

When you’re done, reinsert the dipstick and close the hood. Now you know how to check your transmission fluid for better car maintenance and prevention.

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