How To Check A Car's Automatic Transmission Fluid Level

Checking transmission fluid can be easy and safe for anyone. The task doesnt take any special skill or knowledge to accomplish.

Checking the transmission fluid is not difficult and should be done once a month. Another reason to check the fluid, and the situation that most people find themselves in, is when the car begins to have shift roughly. This could be because the fluid is low due to a leak or that the fluid is dirty.

The first thing to do is move the car to a level parking surface. This will insure a more accurate reading, you do not want to overfill your automatic transmission fluid (ATF). After moving the car, keep the engine running. The engine needs to be warm to get a more accurate reading.

While the engine is running, read the owner's manual to find the location of the dipstick. It is not always as easily accessible as the oil dipstick, but it is usually brightly marked with a red or yellow covering. The owner's manual will also tell you if the engine should be running. Most cars will need the engine to be running.



Put on safety goggles before getting under the hood. This will protect your eyes from any debris that may be present in the engine and fly up and hit you in the face. You may also need a flashlight to better see into the engine to locate the dipstick. Remove the dipstick after the engine has warmed up and wipe it clean. Replace the dipstick and remove again. This will give a better reading. There are markings for "Cold" and "Warm." Since the engine is warm, check the markings for the Warm readings. If the fluid isn't full, add a little bit at a time and measure again with the dipstick. You do not want to overfill the ATF. You should also make a note of the color of the fluid. ATF fluid is a pinkish/red color; brown fluid means a call to the mechanic.

To add fluid, get a long necked funnel and pour the fluid into the hole where the dipstick goes. Remember, only a little bit at a time, you don't want to overfill it. Replace the dipstick, wait a few moments, then pull out the dipstick wipe it down, replace and pull again. This should give the new fluid measurements.

Some new vehicles do not ever need the fluid replaced, but some vehicles need the fluid flushed and replaced every 24,000 miles. Check with the owner's manual to get the specifics for your vehicle.

To recap:

Items you will need:

* Clean rag/cloth

* Flashlight (to better see into the engine)

* Safety goggles

* Long necked funnel

Steps to check Automatic Transmission Fluid:

*Check owner's manual to see if engine should remain running during fluid check

*Park vehicle on level surface and follow manual's instructions regarding engine status.

*Remove dipstick, wipe clean, replace and remove again.

*Read the fluid level and check the color of the fluid. Fluid should be pink/red color.

*Wipe dipstick clean again. If fluid is low, use clean long necked funnel to pour fluid into system through dipstick opening. Otherwise, replace dipstick and close hood.

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