Checking transmission fluid levels is an important step to prevent expensive car repairs. Find out how to do it in under five minutes here.
Table of Contents
How To Check Transmission Fluid
If your vehicle suddenly displays the transmission symbol on the dash, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a faulty transmission. First, check the transmission oil level since it will also display the warning if the levels are low. Topping up transmission fluid is a lot quicker and cheaper than replacing the whole transmission system!
Before we check the transmission fluid, it is important to check the owner’s manual for the minimum and maximum transmission fluid levels. The owner’s manual will also ensure we don’t use the wrong fluid. Also, if you are unsure of the type of oil your vehicle uses it will be listed under the specific section that covers transmission fluids. You don’t need to be a professional mechanic or service technician to determine the condition and levels of your transmission fluid since a quick visual inspection will do.
Let’s get into the procedure!
*Step 1: Find The Oil Dipstick
Sure, here’s a more personal version of the paragraph:
Allow me to briefly share with you my experience of doing transmission-level checks on my vehicle. I’ve been taking the time to regularly inspect the transmission fluid levels to ensure everything is running smoothly. It’s become a routine for me, where before a long trip, I pop the hood, locate the transmission dipstick, and pull it out to check the fluid. By wiping it clean, reinserting it, and pulling it out again, I can accurately gauge the fluid level, which gives me peace of mind.
It’s important to me because keeping the transmission well-maintained helps extend its lifespan and ensures optimal performance. So, if you haven’t already, I highly recommend adding this quick and simple task to your maintenance routine. Trust me, it’ll make a big difference in the long run!
If you drive an automatic or manual transmission, always make sure you have the parking brake engaged and that the vehicle is standing in a level position. Do not park on an incline or decline since this will result in an inaccurate reading on your oil dipstick.
To check your automatic transmission fluid in an RWD (Rear Wheel Drive), look for a dipstick handle sticking out of your transmission that is located toward the rear of an in-line engine. If your vehicle has FWD (front-wheel drive), the transmission fluid dipstick will be located out of the transaxle.
*Step 2: Remove The Dipstick
Open the hood of the engine compartment and locate the transmission dipstick in the engine bay. Once you have located the transmission dipstick, remove it gently from the dipstick tube. Make sure you are checking the correct dipstick and that you are not mistaking it for the engine oil dipstick. The transmission dipstick is usually located to the right of the oil dipstick on front-wheel-drive models.
*Step 3: Clean The Dipstick
Once you have the dipstick removed, wipe it down gently with a dry clean rag or paper towel. Make sure you wipe the entire dipstick, especially down to the end of the dipstick.
*Step 4: Reinsert The Oil Dipstick
Once you have wiped the dipstick clean of any oil, reinsert it back into the dipstick tube and wait a second or two. Ensure you slide the dipstick all the way back down into the transmission fill tube.
*Step 5: Read The Level
After reinserting the dipstick and waiting a few seconds, remove it to inspect the oil levels and color. You want to check the fluid levels against the markings on the end of the dipstick. Transmission oil is a very specific color. Rub some oil between your forefinger and thumb to check its consistency and color. Your oil should have a pink hue and be thick. If the oil is below the “FILL” line, top up the transmission oil with the correct oil type until it reaches the “FULL” line.
One method to top up the oil is by pouring the new transmission fluid directly into the transmission dipstick tube. Make sure you use a funnel to pour the oil directly into the dipstick tube without spilling. Pour in increments of 100ml at a time and then re-check the level until you have enough transmission fluid. Alternatively, locate the transmission fluid Filler Plug. The filler plug is usually a large bolt located about halfway up the side of the transmission. You will most likely need a ratchet and socket or a spanner to loosen the plug.
NOTE: there are many different types of transmissions which means there are different transmission oils so ensure you check your owner’s manual to see what specific transmission oil type your vehicle uses. Not all transmission oils are the same.
While you have the dipstick out, inspect the oil for particles and check if it has a burnt smell or if it’s black in color with a hot smell to it. If so, have a mechanic drain and do a full transmission-fluid replacement ASAP.
Transmission Fluid Types
|Product||Synthetic||Passenger Car |
& Light Duty Trucks
|Light to Severe-Duty|
|Monolec Syn Multi-vehicle Auto Transmission Fluid (1150)||☑️||☑️||☑️||☑️|
|Monolec Power Fluid (7500)||☑️||☑️||☑️||☑️|
|Monolec Drivetrain Fluid |
|Monolec Gear Lubricant (703-704)||☑️||☑️||☑️||☑️||☑️|
(9919 & 9923)
- Get the engine to operating temperature then leave the car idling in park.
- Make sure the surface the vehicle is parked on is level with no incline/decline.
- Locate and remove the transmission dipstick and wipe it clean with a clean dry cloth.
- Reinsert it slowly, wait a few seconds, and then remove it again.
- Inspect the transmission fluid level to see how high the fluid comes up on the dipstick.
- Check where the oil level is in relation to the “full” and “low” or “fill” marks on the dipstick.