Being a proactive car owner is vital if you want to experience a problem-free relationship with your vehicle for many years. Having a basic understanding of your vehicle’s parts and how to maintain proper operation of each is a great start.
One of the key elements that must be maintained is the car’s transmission fluid. This fluid acts as a lubricant throughout the vehicle, keeping parts running smoothly and maintaining a cool temperature. Without this fluid, a plethora of mild to severe issues can begin to occur.
If you want to ensure your car runs smoothly for years to come, refer to the following information to learn how to check the transmission fluid.
Checking Transmission Fluid
To ensure your transmission fluid is doing its job, you will need to know how to check it. Use the following steps to learn how to locate and how to read transmission dipstick:
- Ensure your car is on level ground, and start your vehicle
- With your foot on the brake, put the car through each gear before returning to the park position
- Set the parking brake
- Raise the hood
- If you don’t know where is transmission dipstick, it should be labeled. If not, refer to your owner’s manual. The part will have a handle that is easy to grasp and pull.
- Have an old towel or cloth ready. Ensure it is white so you can see the fluid color
- Pull the transmission handle straight up and out
- Wipe the dipstick clean on the dirty towel, then re-insert it
- Remove the dipstick again, so that you can read the fluid level
- A good reading will sit between “Full” and “Add,” or “Hot” and “Cold.” A line that lies beneath “Add” or “Cold” may be a sign of a leak
- At this time, you should also note the color of the fluid. Refer to your white towel to see what color you’re working with
- If your fluid is an acceptable color and no additional fluid is needed, return the dipstick to its proper place
If your transmission dipstick was close to the “Add” marker, top up your fluid now. Check the level of your dipstick periodically to avoid overflow.
Once you are done, turn on your car. Allow the new fluid to coat the transmission and become warm. You can also re-check your transmission dipstick to ensure the fluid level is satisfactory now.
Transmission Fluid Color
A healthy transmission fluid, for the most part, will be a bright, red color. When checking your transmission, anything from a bright red or amber to a maroon shade is acceptable. Any brown shade is also satisfactory; however, you should check this fluid regularly. The below image shows various colors of transmission fluid based on the condition it’s in.
Two transmission fluid colors are cause for worry: Black and pink. Black fluid is a sign that the fluid is burnt or something is wrong in your transmission, and it needs to be tended to immediately.
In comparison, the color pink is a sign that you have water or anti-freeze in your transmission fluid. Water can quickly destroy your transmission, and anti-freeze can be highly corrosive. This kind of problem will require servicing.
Transmission fluid and coolant can mix if the transmission cooler in the radiator begins to leak allowing for coolant to get into the cooler. This can also damage your engine due to transmission fluid getting into the cooling system.
Additionally, transmission fluid that has particles in it, or that smells burnt also requires attention.
How Often to Check Transmission Fluid?
It is suggested that you check your vehicle’s transmission fluid monthly. This will ensure you are made aware of any potential problems before they become too serious.
If you notice anything strange happening with your car, such as an odd noise or poor operation, this is a sign to check your fluid as well. Your transmission fluid can be a helpful indicator of what might be going on.
How often to replace transmission fluid will depend on the type of vehicle you have. For automatic transmission, it is suggested to replace your fluid every 60,000-100,000 miles.
For a manual transmission vehicle, you should change the fluid every 30,000-60,000 miles.
An Important Component
Ensure every car owner in your home knows how to check their transmission fluid properly. In case of an emergency, always keep some fluid on-hand in each vehicle you own.
Once you’ve got the hang of checking your transmission fluid, it’s crucial to make it a routine habit. Doing so will allow you to keep your car running at its highest efficiency for years to come.