Your vehicle’s transmission is an essential component that should not be overlooked in comparison to the engine. Your vehicle may be able to start without it, but it won’t drive very far or very quickly. It is essential that you keep your transmission in good condition, and just like any other important component on your car, the best way to protect it is with regular maintenance. It is possible to determine the state of your transmission by checking the levels, color, and even smell of the transmission fluid.
There are several things you can do to help your transmission last longer, such as giving it routine flushes and developing healthy habits like always utilizing the parking brake while the vehicle is stopped and never changing into drive from reverse unless the vehicle is completely stopped first. Are you unsure how to check the fluid in your transmission?
Be sure to consult our handy reference guide!
How to Check Transmission Fluid Level
The transmission fluid dipstick is identical to the oil dipstick; however, while the oil dipstick determines how much engine oil is in the vehicle, transmission dipsticks determine how much transmission fluid is in the vehicle. It is important to keep in mind that the majority of transmission problems are caused by low fluid levels.
If the level of the fluid is low, it is likely that there is a leak, which will need to be located and repaired as soon as possible by a trained professional. If you find that you need to add more fluid, make sure not to fill the reservoir to its maximum capacity. If you overfill the transmission fluid, it could cause the fluid to froth, which would create excessive pressure on the transmission and potentially force fluid out of a vent or a seal. Because of this, there is a risk of slippage and instability.
- Park your vehicle on a level surface and lift the hood.
- Turn on your vehicle, leaving it in park, and let the engine run for a few minutes to warm up. Transmission fluid expands in heat and in order to receive correct results, it must be under normal operating conditions. If the fluid is checked when the engine is cold, you may get erroneous results stating the fluid is low. Allow the engine to continue running while you check the level. Note: Honda is the only manufacturer that recommended you turn off the engine and then immediately check the level.
- Locate your dipstick. Often placed near the oil dipstick in front-wheel drive automobiles and near the rear of the engine for rear-wheel-drive engines, it is neatly labeled for access and can have a red, pink, or yellow-colored handle.
- Pull out the dipstick and using a clean rag, wipe it clean, and return it back into the reservoir. Remove the dipstick again and locate the signs on the stick to determine whether the fluid is “full” or “low.” If the fluid is full, replace the dipstick and close the hood. If you see that the fluid level is low, you should take your vehicle to an auto center as soon as possible to get it refilled.
Things to consider When Examining Your Transmission Fluid
The majority of new transmission fluids should have a brilliant, transparent red color. A darker red or light brown color is okay, although it reveals the product’s age and usage. A darker brown color indicates that the fluid needs to be replaced.
However, black is a terrible omen. This signifies that the fluid has been burned as a result of transmission problems. Your vehicle should be sent to a transmission professional right once to discover the origin of the burning fluid.
Fluid may appear thicker than usual after a period of time. This is typical; nonetheless, proper transmission fluid should appear brand new. Furthermore, no impurities or particles, including metal shavings, should be present in the fluid. Metal shavings could be dangerous and should be investigated right away. Foamy fluid could signal that there is too much fluid present, that it is overheating, or that the incorrect fluid has been supplied.
Smell – Clean fluid is virtually odorless, but if it smells like burnt toast, it is cause for alarm. A burnt scent indicates that the transmission has developed difficulties and should be serviced by a professional as soon as possible.
Many modern automobiles lack transmission dipsticks, making it impossible to check the gearbox fluid at home. In such a circumstance, a technician will need to check the fluid level through a plug situated on the transmission’s side or by accessing the vehicle’s onboard computer.