How to Check Your Transmission Fluid

Do you know how to check transmission fluid in a car? It's helpful know-how to have in your repertoire, as checking the transmission fluid routinely can alert you to potential transmission issues before they become more complicated and costly to fix. The good news is that learning how to check transmission fluid is very simple! Check out our step-by-step guide below to get started.

How to Check Transmission Fluid: Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Turn your engine on to allow it to warm up for a few minutes. Once it's warm, double-check that the car is in Park and turn it off. Exit your vehicle and pop the hood.
  2. Locate the transmission fluid dipstick. If you drive a car with FWD, the transmission fluid dipstick is typically located just to the right of the engine oil dipstick. If you're struggling to find it, check your owner's manual for assistance.
  3. Remove the transmission fluid dipstick and transfer some of the fluid onto your fingertip. Swish the fluid around between your thumb and forefinger, thinning it out enough to see its color. Healthy fluid should bealmost clear, with a faint hint of red. If the fluid appears muddled or has a burnt odor, schedule a service appointment without delay.
  4. After observing the fluid's appearance, wipe the dipstick clean with a rag. Re-insert it into its compartment. Then, remove the dipstick once more, this time to observe the fluid level. If it falls underneath the "Full" marker, you can add a bit more fluid until it's level.
  5. If adding fluid, use a funnel so you don't overfill. Check your owner's manual to ensure you have the right type of transmission fluid for your car.

If you're in the San Francisco or Oakland area and don't feel totally comfortable checking the transmission fluid on your own, our service center is just a short drive away in Pleasanton! We can check and replace the transmission fluid in any make or model.

How Often Do You Check Your Transmission Fluid?

Now you know how to check the transmission fluid, but another question remains: How often do you check your transmission fluid? Like all fluids in your car, the transmission fluid should be checked on a monthly basis. In addition to the transmission fluid, you should also check the engine oil and power steering fluid once a month to watch for leaks or other issues.

How to Check Transmission Fluid in a Sealed Transmission

If you've checked every area under the hood and you can't locate a transmission fluid dipstick, your car probably has a sealed transmission. Sealed doesn't mean inaccessible, but checking the transmission fluid in a sealed transmission isn't so easy since there's no dipstick to use. If you try to access the sealed transmission and check the fluid, you could end up damaging this critical component. Instead, a service team like ours will be happy to provide this service.

Knowing When to Check the Fluid in a Sealed Transmission

Sealed transmissions might sound inconvenient, but they are actually cleverly designed to minimize the amount of transmission fluid that goes to waste. How often do you check your transmission fluid when you have a sealed transmission? Since you can't check the fluid in a sealed transmission on your own, here are the common signs that the fluid needs replacing:

  • Your vehicle makes irregular noises when shifting gears
  • You can feel your car hesitating before shifting gears
  • You feel a delayed response when accelerating

Learn More About Transmission Fluid!

  • Different types of transmission fluids are not all made the same. There are different types for different models and depending on whether it's an automatic or manual transmission. It's important to check your car's owner's manual to ensure you have all of the manufacturer-recommended information.
  • If your car has a manual transmission, you're probably going to need a jack to access a plug underneath the car when you go to check the fluid. Unless you're very well-experienced in servicing your car, you will likely find that it's more convenient to have a service tech check your manual transmission's fluid.
  • Have you felt your vehicle "holding back" before it shifts gears as you're driving in Livermore? Low transmission fluid could be to blame for the issue, but it could also point to a more serious problem. Start by checking the fluid level. If the level is correct, you'll want to have your car further inspected.
  • Transmission fluid should be fully replaced every 50,000 to 100,000 miles. When you need to replace your fluid will vary based on your driving practices, transmission type, and other factors. It's always a good idea to review the maintenance schedule outlined in your manual, which will include transmission fluid replacement intervals.

Schedule Service at East Bay MINI Authorized Service Center!

Whether you need to schedule transmission service or you're looking for additional auto maintenance tips and tricks, East Bay MINI Authorized Service Center is here to support you! Contact us to start a conversation with a friendly service advisor today.

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