How Do You Check Transmission Fluid?

As with your engine oil or coolant, it’s a good idea to check your transmission fluid from time to time. This fluid helps keep your transmission running smoothly, and you want to know you have enough fresh fluid to reap the benefits of a seamless gear shifter for the foreseeable future.

How do you check transmission fluid? It’s a question asked by drivers in Bloomington, Ellettsville and Bedford. Check out this step-by-step to walk you through that process, and learn where to go for help in the area if you need it.

What Is Transmission Fluid?

Let’s start with the basics! Transmission fluid lubricates all the moving parts inside your transmission, so they can work together more easily. In an automatic transmission, it helps avoid systemic overheating, as well as transfer power from the engine to the transmission. In essence, it’s both a lubricant and a heat shield.

Changing your fluid at regular intervals is essential. Manual and automatic transmission fluid become contaminated, fouled and degrade in quality over time and with use. If you continue to use old and ineffective fluid, you risk shortening the life of your transmission or even causing damage to it. Luckily, checking the fluid is an easy process!

How to Check Transmission Fluid

So, what is the procedure for how to check transmission fluid? If you drive automatic, it’s just as easy as checking your engine oil. Just pull out the dipstick, wipe it down, reinsert it and pull it out again. It should have a clear pink color to it, a sweet smell and come up to somewhere between the minimum and maximum fill lines. It’s important to remember that your engine has to be running and warm to get a good reading, which is the opposite of checking motor oil.

Checking the fluid with a manual transmission is a bit trickier. You’ll need to raise your car up with a jack, use jack stands to keep it secure and remove the fill plug (it should be sideways, so no transmission fluid will leak out). You can add new fluid until it starts to overflow, as the plug point is also the recommended filling level.

Signs You Need to Change Transmission Fluid

If you notice any of these signs that your transmission fluid isn’t working quite the way it should, give it a check and determine whether it needs to be changed or flushed:

  • Burning Smell. If you catch a burning smell either while driving or when checking the fluid, there may be an issue with the fluid, as it’s designed to smell slightly sweet or tart.
  • Problems with Shifting. Your vehicle may start changing gears too soon or too late, you may experience a slipping sensation and hesitation, or you may have a hard time shifting at all.
  • Strange Sounds. You may hear the transmission moving falteringly into gear rather than moving seamlessly (automatic) or a sudden grinding noise (manual).

Schedule Transmission Maintenance at Andy Mohr Honda

If you think your transmission fluid needs to be topped off or changed, or the whole system needs to be flushed, schedule an appointment at the service department at Andy Mohr Honda. Even if you’re not sure what the issue is, our technicians have the skills to diagnose and fix whatever is ailing your transmission. We’ll have your fluid levels checked and your vehicle ready for the roads of Bloomington, Ellettsville and Bedford in no time! Give us a call to schedule your service appointment today.