Automatic Transmission Fluid Check

Automatic Transmission Fluid Check

How to Check Automatic Transmission Fluid Level


The transmission is responsible for shifting the gears of a vehicle, and is one of the most complex systems of a car. Many transmission problems are caused by problems with the fluid, and so manufacturers recommend drivers to check their transmission fluid at least twice every year. Here are the steps to check the level of an automatic transmission fluid:

1. Warm up the car. Turn on your engine and let your car run for about five minutes. The heat will expand the volume of the transmission fluid to the level it would be at during normal driving. Park your car on a level surface, and keep the engine on.

2. Locate the dipstick. Depending on whether your vehicle has a front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive, the transmission dipstick will be located either near the front of the engine, where it’s connected to the transaxle, or the rear of the engine, above the oil reservoir. Most newer cars have the dipstick labeled, and the transmission dipstick will look like the regular engine oil dipstick.

3. Pull out the dipstick and inspect fluid level. Remove the transmission dipstick, wipe it clean with a towel, then reinsert it fully and remove it again. Inspect the level of the fluid. The level should be in the range between “low” and “full.”

4. Inspect fluid color. Fluid color is also an important indicator of your transmission’s health. Automatic transmission fluid that’s in good condition should look red or pink, and be without any odor. Fluid that’s brown indicates normal transmission usage–the dye in the fluid becomes darker as it ages. Any fluid that smells burnt, however, indicates potential serious problems within the transmission–perhaps a failure in the torque converters or slippages in gears. Burnt fluid is not normal, and owners should take their vehicles to the mechanics immediately to inspect the problem.

5. Add transmission fluid, if necessary. If fluid levels are low, use a funnel to top off the fluid before reinserting the dipstick. Add fluid slowly and check the level frequently to prevent overfilling. After you are done, reinsert the dipstick back into the transmission.

Checking automatic transmission fluid level is a simple but important procedure. However, any problem with the transmission fluid could indicate larger problems within the transmission system. Low fluid levels, for example, could indicate a leak. Abnormal fluid quality could indicate failures within the transmission system. If you discover any of these potential issues, don’t hesitate to call West Coast Transmission at (916) 348-3962 today for a diagnosis!

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