How to Check Transmission Fluids

Transmission Fluid

The transmission is one of the most important parts of a vehicle, as it’s what changes the gears to move the car forward as you drive the roads of Danvers, Peabody, or Salem. The transmission fluid is what allows your transmission to continue moving freely, cooling and lubricating the parts.

You’ll want to make sure the transmission always has enough fluid to effectively do its job. That’s why it’s important to check it regularly. The process varies between automatic and manual transmissions, so we’re here to explain how to check transmission fluids. Read through the information below, and discover where to go if you need to have it serviced, or you have any questions.  Schedule a service appointment today.

How to Check Automatic Transmission Fluid

Mechanic Holding Transmission

Checking automatic transmission is pretty straightforward. The four steps to do so include:

  1. Find the transmission fluid dipstick. Its location depends on what type of car you have. If it’s rear-wheel drive, then it’ll be toward the back of the engine, behind the engine oil dipstick. If it’s front-wheel drive, then the dipstick will be toward the front, sticking out of the transaxle.
  2. Pull out the dipstick. This should be done while the engine is still running, and the car is set to Neutral or Park. Be sure the parking brake is engaged!
  3. Check the fluid. Get a bit of the transmission fluid on your finger, and make sure the color is bright red and transparent, is free of particles, and doesn’t look or smell burnt. Rub it between your finger and thumb to check the consistency and that it’s smooth. If there are issues with the color or consistency, then you’ll need a complete fluid change.
  4. Wipe the dipstick clean with a rag, reinsert it, and pull it out again. You’re now checking the fluid level. If it doesn’t reach the Full line on the dipstick, then you’ll have to add more.

How to Check Manual Transmission Fluid

The process for checking manual transmission fluid differs from the automatic. This is specifically because rather than a dipstick, a manual vehicle has a fluid fill plug located underneath the car.

In general, it’s best to have manual transmission fluid checked and maintained by a certified technician. To check manual transmission fluid on your own, however, perform the following steps:

  1. Lift the car up using a hydraulic floor jack, and secure it with jack stands. Get the vehicle high enough so that you have clearance underneath. Make sure it’s well secured so it won’t fall!
  2. Find the fluid fill plug. For the most part, the plug is a large bolt that’s located on the side of the transmission that’s under the car.
  3. Remove the filler plug with a socket wrench, and check the level. Place your finger in the plug hole, and see if you get some fluid on the end of your finger. If you don’t, then you know the fluid level is low.
  4. Add transmission fluid. Use a fluid pump to add it through the filler plug, and recheck several times to make sure it’s at the proper level.

When & Why You Need a Transmission Fluid Change

For a manual transmission, it’s recommended to get a fluid change every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. If the vehicle endures heavy-duty use, however, then it should get changed every 15,000 miles.

For an automatic transmission, the service interval could vary from 30,000 miles to never. The average interval is between 60,000 and 100,000 miles.

No matter which transmission your car has, it’s important to get the fluid changed if you notice that it smells burned, is dark brown, or contains contaminants. If this service isn’t performed, the fluid in a manual can get contaminated, as the bearings and gears wear out over time.

This wear results in metal particles floating around in the lubricant, shortening the life of the transmission, or even leading to costly transmission repair services. In an automatic, heat will cause the fluid to degrade and break down with use, which will also shorten the transmission’s lifespan.

Schedule a Transmission Fluid Check Today

Even though you can check transmission fluid yourself, it’s best to have your vehicle looked over by professionals on a regular basis, to be sure there aren’t other repairs needed. At Ira Toyota of Danvers, we have an expert team of techs with the skills to perform this type of automotive work. If you live near Danvers, Peabody, or Salem, then schedule a service with us today!