How To Check Transmission Fluid

Occasionally, it may be necessary to check the transmission fluid to ensure that everything is working as it should. It’s a good idea to keep a close eye on the transmission system since it can be one of the most expensive parts of the vehicle to repair or replace. By monitoring the transmission fluid, you could catch potential issues before they become costly repairs. Plus, the cost of replacing transmission fluid is relatively inexpensive.

That’s why it’s so important for our customers across the Manhattan, Bronx, and Queens area to understand how to check the transmission fluid and when it needs to be replaced.

Our team at MINI of Manhattan has provided this article to help you learn about checking the transmission fluid in an automatic transmission. Manual transmission vehicles require a slightly different set of steps. For more information, be sure to contact our service department.

Checking the Transmission Fluid

With an automatic transmission system, the transmission fluid dipstick should be relatively easy to find. Open the hood of the vehicle, and consult your owner’s manual to determine where the transmission fluid dipstick should be. Again, if this is a manual transmission, the drain plug may be underneath the car.

For automatic transmissions, allow the engine to run for a few minutes and warm up. This will also give the transmission fluid a chance to heat up, which will provide a more accurate reading on the dipstick. You’ll be checking for viscosity or thickness, in addition to overall quality and quantity.

It’s important to make sure the vehicle is on a flat and level surface. You should also have the transmission system in Park or Neutral with the parking brake engaged. Once the engine has had about five minutes or longer to warm up, locate the dipstick and pull it out. Remember to keep the engine running.

Once you open the hood of the vehicle, you should find the dipstick. The exact location will depend on whether your vehicle is equipped with front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive. As mentioned before, you should consult your owner’s manual or your local automotive technician if you’re unsure where your transmission fluid dipstick is.

Once you’ve found the dipstick, pull it out and wipe it with a clean, light-colored towel. Inspect the quality of the fluid. It shouldn’t look or smell burnt.

Checking Transmission Fluid Level

Clean transmission fluid starts out as a clear red color. As it ages, the fluid becomes darker and thicker. The fluid becomes thicker because of buildup within the transmission system itself. The fluid helps keep the transmission clean by picking up this debris. If your transmission fluid is dark red or dark brown in color, you should consider having it replaced soon.

Transmission fluid that’s severely old will have a burnt smell to it, along with a charred look. The fluid may also seem unusually sticky and thick with debris. These are all signs that the fluid is old and broken down. It needs to be replaced right away in order to avoid any complications or unnecessary damage to the transmission system and the rest of the vehicle.

After you’ve inspected the quality of the transmission fluid, you can now take a look at the amount of fluid inside the transmission system. Wipe the dipstick completely clean with a towel or rag. However, it’s important to keep in mind that if your transmission fluid is in poor condition, you’ll want to have the system flushed and replaced rather than just topping it off.

Measuring the fill level is simple. Just wipe the dipstick clean, insert it back into the transmission system, and then remove it carefully. The markings on the end of the dipstick will indicate if more fluid needs to be added. Just be careful not to overfill the transmission system by accident. Consult the owner’s manual to see what kind of transmission fluid to use.

Need Transmission Service?

If you live in the Manhattan, Bronx, or Queens area and think you might need to change the transmission fluid in your vehicle, please contact us MINI of Manhattan. Our team of automotive professionals will be happy to inspect your transmission system and make sure that everything is running smoothly. We can also answer any questions you might have about how to check the transmission fluid.

Please don't hesitate to direct your service questions to us! Fill out the simple form below and our technicians will get back to you.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.