How To Check Transmission Fluid?

“How do you check transmission fluid?” and “Where is the transmission fluid?” are some of the most common questions drivers ask about vehicle fluid services.

Just as your engine uses oil to lubricate and cool its internal parts, automatic transmissions use specially formulated transmission fluid for the same purpose. Conventional automatic transmissions, dual-clutch automatic transmissions, and continuously variable transmissions each use a certain type of transmission oil.

If you are not sure which fluid is used in your transmission, read the owner’s manual. You can usually find the requirements for the transmission fluid in the section with the technical data.

You don’t have to be a mechanic to get an inside look at the condition of your vehicle’s transmission. A simple visual inspection is sufficient. You need to check the level and condition of your transmission fluid.

How To Check Transmission Fluid?

Here’s a five-step overview of how it’s typically done. This outline gives you a general idea of the procedure.

How To Check Transmission Fluid

#1. Park Your Car On A Level Surface And Start The Engine.

The transmission fluid level is typically checked with the engine running at normal operating temperature. You may not get an accurate reading if the transmission fluid is cold. The vehicle should be in a specific gear (usually PARK or NEUTRAL) and on a stable, level surface.

#2. Open The Hood and Locate the Transmission Fluid Dipstick.

Typically, near where the transmission or transaxle meets rear of the engine. It looks similar to the oil dipstick.

#3. Pull Out the Dipstick.

The tip should be covered in transmission fluid all the way to the FULL indicator line. If the fluid level is low — meaning it doesn’t rise to the FULL indicator line — you can just top it off.

#4. Check The Fluid.

Dip the tip of your index finger into the fluid on the dipstick and rub the fluid between your finger and the tip of your thumb. The transmission fluid on the dipstick should be pinkish and almost clear. If it looks or smells burnt or has particles in it, have a mechanic drain and change the fluid.

#5. Check the Level.

Wipe the dipstick with a clean, lint-free rag; then reinsert it and pull it out again. Check the fluid level—how high the fluid comes up on the dipstick—against the “full” and “low” or “fill” marks on the dipstick. If the transmission fluid is clear but doesn’t reach the “Full” line on the dipstick, use a funnel to pour just enough transmission fluid down the dipstick tube to reach the line. Don’t overfill!.

How To Check Transmission Fluid

NOTE: Your vehicle shouldn’t lose automatic transmission fluid in normal operation, so if the level is down, there’s a good chance there’s a leak somewhere. Consult a service professional immediately to have it addressed to avoid possible damage to the transmission.

Also, some automatic transmissions do not have dipsticks or may require that a service professional inspect the automatic transmission fluid level. Recently, some manufacturers have decided to remove the dipstick and replace it with a sealed-off unit, which requires electronic testing or a computer scan. Check the vehicle’s owner’s or service manual.