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How To Check Transmission Fluid

Vehicle owners are frequently reminded to check their car’s fluids, but automatic transmission fluid (ATF) often goes overlooked. Many modern cars no longer have a transmission dipstick, which manufacturers have removed to prevent incorrect fluid levels and save costs.

Checking Transmission Fluid
-Method 1: Using the Dipstick

If your vehicle has a dipstick, check the fluid with the engine and transmission fully warmed up and the vehicle on a level surface. Follow the owner’s manual for specific instructions. Use the correct fluid type and add only small amounts, avoiding overfilling which can cause foaming and shifting issues.

-Method 2: Without a Dipstick

For vehicles without a dipstick, check the fluid through a side check-plug hole or use an electronic scanner. These methods typically require professional assistance, making it convenient to have it done during routine maintenance at your service shop.

-Transmission Fluid Inspection Checklist

Fluid Colour and Consistency: ATF should be dark red. If it appears dark and smells burnt, or if you see metal shavings, it could indicate serious issues.

Fluid Odour: New fluid has a slight chemical smell. Burnt odour suggests overheating and contamination.

Fluid Level: Most vehicles hold 10-12 liters of ATF but require flushing for a complete change. Dipsticks indicate the correct fluid range.

Presence of Metal Shavings: Small filings are normal, but larger shavings indicate abnormal wear.

Leakage: Any fluid leaks should be addressed immediately to avoid severe damage.

-Transmission Fluid Maintenance Tips

Regular Inspections: Follow the owner’s manual for inspection intervals and add monthly checks to your routine.

Using the Correct Fluid: Use the specified fluid and filter replacement intervals to avoid costly repairs.

Addressing Leaks: Fix leaks promptly to prevent roadside breakdowns and internal damage.

-FAQs about Transmission Fluid

Checking with the Engine Running: Most automatics require the engine to be running. Refer to the owner’s manual.

Driving with Low Fluid: Low fluid causes slipping and can lead to failure. Address leaks immediately.

Adding Fluid: Only add fluid if there’s a dipstick and use the correct type. Use a funnel for narrow filler tubes.

Check Engine Light: Low fluid doesn’t typically trigger the check engine light. Check for other signs.

Long-term Impact: Ignoring leaks can strand you and cause expensive repairs. Fix leaks as soon as they appear.
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