How to Check and Add Fluid to Your Automatic Transmission

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Your vehicle’s automatic transmission system is one of numerous hydraulic systems. To keep your system in good working order, check the transmission fluid on a regular basis to ensure that there is enough fluid of suitable quality available for your transmission to function properly. Continue reading for step-by-step instructions on how to inspect and replenish the fluid in your automatic transmission system.

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Steps

1. With the engine running, park your automobile on a flat surface. Before placing the gearbox in park, you should briefly shift through each gear setting.

2. Lift the hood. The hood is normally opened by a lever on the interior of your automobile, usually at the left side of the cockpit. If you can’t locate it, see your owner’s handbook.

3. Locate the automatic transmission fluid pipeline. The gearbox fluid pipe is identified on many recent automobiles; if not, see your owner’s handbook for its location.

  • The dipstick on a rear-wheel drive vehicle is normally located in the engine bay, above the valve cover.
  • The dipstick on a front-wheel-drive car is normally located in front of the engine and is attached to the transaxle, pointing straight up out of the gearbox.

4. Take remove the dipstick for the transmission fluid. Most automobiles must be idling in park with the parking brake engaged and the gearbox heated. To check the transmission fluid level, wipe the dipstick with a clean cloth or paper towel, reinsert it, and draw it out again. The fluid level should be between the “Full” and “Add” or “Hot” and “Cold” markings.
Transmission fluid should not usually be required. If the level is much below the “Add” or “Cold” line, you most likely have a system leak and should take the vehicle to your mechanic to have a professional examine it for leaks.

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5. Examine the transmission fluid’s condition. A good automatic transmission fluid is typically red (although might be pink or light brown), with no bubbles or odor. If any of the following conditions apply to your vehicle, it should be serviced.

  • If the transmission fluid has become a stained brown or smells burned, it has been overheated and can no longer protect the transmission as intended. To test the fluid further, place some on a clean paper towel and wait 30 seconds to see whether it spreads. If it does not, the transmission should be repaired, or it will suffer significant damage.
  • If the transmission fluid has a milky brown appearance, it has been polluted by coolant from the radiator through a leak in the automatic gearbox fluid cooler. Take the vehicle to the mechanic right away.
  • If the transmission fluid is frothy or bubbly, it is possible that there is too much fluid in the transmission or that the incorrect transmission fluid was utilized.

6. If required, add transmission fluid. Add the fluid a little at a time, monitoring the level on a regular basis, until it is at the proper level. If you’ve fully emptied the transmission fluid, you’ll probably need to add three to four quarts of transmission fluid. Otherwise, keep an eye on the dipstick to prevent overfilling the fluid pan.

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7. If feasible, drive the automobile through each gear. This procedure enables the freshly supplied transmission fluid to circulate and adequately coat and lubricate each gear. Begin with the engine running and the vehicle in park, preferably with the wheels off the ground. Go from first to third gear, including Drive, Overdrive, and Reverse. When completed, put the car in park and let it idle for a few minutes to warm the fluid.

8. Check the dipstick again to see how much more fluid you need to add, if any. Inspect the dipstick because transmission fluid may have fallen as a result of being cycled through the clutch packs, clearing any air from the system. Add fluid as required to reach the desired level.

9. Add the required quantity of fluid to bring it up to the right level. You may need to add additional fluid at this stage depending on whether you’re simply topping up your transmission fluid or replacing the whole pan with fresh transmission fluid.

  • If you’re only topping up, you could just need a quart of fluid, or even less.
  • Depending on the make and model, you may need to add 4 to 12 quarts after draining the fluid from the pan, removing the pan, and replacing the filter.

10. Finished. Your transmission fluid is now appropriately adjusted, and your vehicle should be running smoothly.

Can you just add automatic transmission fluid?

More may be added by placing a funnel into the tube from where the dipstick was removed and pouring a little quantity of automatic transmission fluid into the pipe. Check the level after each addition until it is exactly between the two lines.

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Do you add transmission fluid with engine running or off?

When adding transmission fluid, your car’s engine should be running, but the gearbox should be in park and the handbrake should be engaged for safety. For information on choosing the proper transmission fluid for your vehicle, see the owner’s handbook.

How do I add fluid to my automatic transmission?

Insert a long funnel into the dipstick hole for automatic transmission fluid. Add automatic transmission fluid in modest amounts, rechecking the level each time, until the fluid level hits the “warm” line. AVOID OVERFILLING OR SPILLING AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION FLUID ON HOT ENGINE PARTS!

What are the signs of low transmission fluid?

Meanwhile, it’s a good idea to get acquainted with the warning signals that your transmission fluid is running low.
Noises. …
Smell of Burning…
Transmission Flaws…
Shifting Gears…
Slow Gear Selection…
The vehicle accelerates slowly.
The Check Engine or Transmission Warning Light is illuminated.

What happens if you drive on low transmission fluid?

Transmission fluid leaks may occur as a result of a faulty transmission. It causes the fluid levels to drop, affecting the vehicle’s operation. Driving with low transmission fluid levels may cause lasting and costly car damage and pricey repairs.

Can you add transmission fluid if its low?

Transmission fluid should not usually be required. If the level is much below the “Add” or “Cold” line, you most likely have a system leak and should take the vehicle to your mechanic to have a professional examine it for leaks.

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