Checking the fluid level on your transmission is fairly easy, but a bit more complicated than checking your oil. Firstly, this only applies to automatic transmissions, and secondly, some modern vehicles don’t have dipsticks or dipstick tubes to check and add transmission fluid. With that in mind, here are some tips from Autoworks in Ithaca, NY in regard to checking your transmission fluid.

With your vehicle off, pull your transmission dipstick out the same way you would check your oil. Examine the length of the dipstick for any instructions that are written on it; some vehicles will have a cold fluid level and a hot fluid level or will typically indicate which method you should use. It will also generally advise you to check the level with the vehicle in Park or Neutral, with or without the engine running. If the dipstick doesn’t have any instructions, consult your owner’s manual, but typically you should check the fluid level with the vehicle running, in Park or Neutral, with the parking brake on, and the engine at operating temperature.

Once you have determined which procedure your vehicle uses, you are ready to check the fluid level. Since most vehicles use the operating temperature in Park with the vehicle running method, this is the example we will use here. Make sure your vehicle is fully warmed up. Then, set the parking brake, open the hood, and pull the dipstick out. Be aware of any moving engine parts and loose clothing. Wipe the dipstick clean with a lint-free rag, making sure you leave behind no debris on the dipstick. Re-insert the dipstick fully, then pull it out again. If your fluid level is low, add more fluid, but be careful to use only the fluid recommended by the manufacturer - using the wrong transmission fluid can be disastrous. Once you have achieved the correct fluid level, drive the vehicle, put it back in Park, and repeat the process to make sure you’re ready to go. Be careful not to overfill the transmission; high fluid levels can be more hazardous than low levels.

It’s never a bad idea to check the transmission fluid level when you check your oil level and other fluids, but if your transmission is behaving irregularly you should definitely do so immediately. If the transmission slips in and out of gear, shifts inappropriately, or doesn’t kick into gear when you shift into drive or reverse, the first thing you should check is the transmission fluid level. Don’t wait until it’s too late...driving on low fluid for any amount of time can damage an automatic transmission.

If the fluid level is low, you must have a leak somewhere; sometimes this is an easy fix, sometimes it’s a bit more invasive. If your vehicle is losing fluid, your transmission is acting up even after you obtain the proper fluid levels, you have a sealed system with no dipstick, or you’d rather we check the fluid out for you, call or come by Autoworks anytime and let one of our technicians examine your vehicle. We’ll keep your vehicle on the road and running smooth.



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Thank you for visiting Autoworks in Ithaca, NY. Count on our automotive repair technicians to keep your car, truck, suv, or van on the roads longer and safer.

Schedule your appointment today (607) 277-9989 or REQUEST APPOINTMENT HERE.

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