How to Check Your Transmission Fluid

Changing transmission fluid

Need to know how to check your transmission fluid? Looking for answers to the question “How often do you check your transmission fluid?” Either way, we here at Ideal Auto can help! While we don’t have our own dealership service center, we’re more than happy to assist you in answering any questions you may have about DIY car maintenance! So, ready to dive into the process of how to check your transmission fluid as well as how often to perform this critical maintenance step? Read on or contact us to learn more!

Checking Transmission Fluid in 5 Simple Steps

Need to know how to check the transmission fluid in your car? It’s really quite simple. In fact, if your car has a digital meter, it could be as simple as checking that! If not, it’s still easy, and requires just these steps:

  1. Turn on your car’s engine for a few minutes to warm it up. Make sure your vehicle is in park before getting out and opening the hood. You don’t necessarily want to check the fluid with a scalding hot engine, just a vehicle that’s been warmed up. Always consult your owner’s manual for specifics and follow DIY maintenance best practices for safety.
  2. Find the transmission fluid dipstick. On front-wheel-drive cars, it’s usually found to the right of the oil dipstick. Check your owner’s manual if you’re having an issue locating it.
  3. Remove the dipstick and touch the fluid, moving it around between your thumb and forefinger. It should be almost clear, with a slightly pink hue. If it looks dirty or gives off a burnt smell, service your vehicle immediately with a professional.
  4. Use a rag to wipe off the dipstick. Then, put it back. Pull it out one more time and check the level. If it’s under the “Full” marking, you’ll need to add more fluid.
  5. Use a funnel to bring the fluid level up to the proper amount. Do not overfill.

As you can now see, learning how to check the transmission fluid is easy in most vehicles!

Checking the Fluid in a Sealed Transmission

If there’s no dipstick under the hood, your car probably has a sealed transmission. What does this mean? — it simply means that there’s no dipstick with which to easily measure the transmission fluid level. That doesn’t mean the measure can’t be taken, though. If your car has a sealed transmission, you should take it to a professional transmission service provider or repair shop.

When to Check the Fluid in a Sealed Transmission

Sealed transmissions generally won’t require you to have the level checked as often as other vehicles, but if you do experience any of the below things, it’s a good idea to schedule automotive service ASAP:

  • During acceleration, there’s a noticeable delay when the gears shift.
  • You can hear strange noises when the gears change.
  • The gears hesitate before changing.

How Often Do You Check Your Transmission Fluid?

It’s a good rule of thumb to check your vehicle’s transmission fluid levels at least once a month. This ensures that should your fluid be running low or nearing the end of its useful life, you can easily keep track and hopefully get ahead of transmission issues before they occur. Like other preventative maintenance, checking your car’s transmission fluid is important, and can save money over the long run, but often goes overlooked. But now that you know how to check your own vehicle’s transmission fluid at home, that no longer needs to be the case!

More Transmission Fluid Tips

Before you check your transmission fluid, it may be useful to remember these tips:

  • There are different types of transmission fluid for different vehicles and different types of transmissions. For instance, an automatic transmission will require a different fluid than a manual transmission. Make sure you consult your owner’s manual before adding any to your vehicle.
  • Checking the fluid on a manual transmission usually involves jacking the vehicle up and accessing a drain plug.
  • If your vehicle hesitates before shifting gears, it could either be indicative of low transmission fluid levels or something more serious. It’s best to bring your vehicle to an expert to be on the safe side.
  • You’ll want to replace your transmission fluid every 50,000 to 100,000 miles. Check your owner’s manual and maintenance schedule for more specific information.

Ideal Auto is Here for You!

Want to learn more about DIY car care? We’re more than happy to help! Call 701-833-5995 anytime. Meanwhile, check out our other car buying tips and other service-related information.

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