How Do I Check My Transmission Fluid Level?

By Mister Transmission

If your vehicle is experiencing any issues, such as hesitating when it shifts gears or if it makes noises while shifting, you don’t necessarily have to get a new transmission. It could be as straightforward as just checking your ATF, or Automatic Transmission Fluid.

Your transmission depends entirely on this distinctive fluid, hence a low fluid level can have a disastrous effect on transmission operation. We recommend you check the level at least once a month. This will enable you to catch a slow fluid leak you may not know you had potentially saving a lot of money in damaged transmission parts. Your car’s owners manual should provide a detailed description on how check your transmission fluid level. If you don’t have an owner’s manual, here’s the basic procedure that will work on just about any car that has a transmission dipstick.

WARNING: Checking the transmission fluid level requires working under the hood of your car with the engine running. This can be very dangerous if you aren’t careful. Watch out for moving components, such as fans, fan belts, pulleys, etc. If you aren’t comfortable with this procedure, always take your car to your local service station to have the transmission fluid checked.

  1. Make sure your car is on level ground.
  2. Start the engine (and don’t turn it off until finished!)
  3. Bring the engine and transmission to normal operating temperature.
  4. Hold your foot on the brake, and work the shifter slowly through the gears.
  5. Put the shifter all the way back into park.
  6. Set the parking brake.
  7. Carefully open the hood.
  8. Find the transmission dipstick.*
  9. Remove the dipstick, and wipe it off with a clean rag or paper towel.
  10. Slide the dipstick all the way back down into the transmission fill tube.
  11. Pull the dipstick back out, and check the fluid level against the markings on the end of the dipstick. (It should be pinkish & almost clear but if it smells burnt or has particles in it, have a mechanic drain and change it).
  12. If the transmission fluid is clear but doesn’t reach the “Full” line on the dipstick, use a funnel to pour just enough transmission fluid down the dipstick tube to reach the line. Don’t overfill!

REMEMBER: Always use the fluid recommended by the manufacturer (see ‘Choosing the Right Transmission Fluid’). Also, if the transmission requires more than a quart, or is using fluid regularly, take your car in to have it checked for leaks.

If you’re ever unsure of the procedure or where to find the transmission dipstick, check with your local Mister Transmission shop. They’ll be happy to show you where the dipstick is, and how to check the fluid level.

LASTLY: Unfortunately, in recent years, many manufacturers have started to eliminate the transmission fluid dipstick. Referred to as sealed units, these transmissions require a much more involved process to check fluid levels than in days gone by. The process often involves electronic testing devices, such as a computer scan tool. This puts checking the transmission fluid level beyond the capabilities of the average car owner. So if your car doesn’t have a dipstick, you should have your local transmission shop or dealership check the transmission fluid level at least a couple times a year, even if you don’t notice a problem with transmission operation.

A FOOTNOTE: It’s also worth mentioning that a faulty transmission and one that’s just low on fluid share many of the same symptoms. But obviously, adding transmission fluid is a lot cheaper than replacing the whole transmission system! Either way, we’re always here to help in any way we can.

*Rear wheel drive vehicles — the dipstick will usually be on the passenger’s side of the engine compartment, near the back of the engine.

Front wheel drive vehicles — the dipstick will usually be on the driver’s side of the vehicle, on either side of the transmission.

Visit your nearest Mister Transmission location today!

10827km away
 
  • 15903 Stony Plain Rd. NW
  • Edmonton, AB
  • T5P 3Z7
  • 587-786-6465

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Customer Reviews
The staff at Mister Transmission...
Anita Roussy
The staff at Mister Transmission Barrie exceeded my expectations. They were able to chase the electrical issues my car had when the dealer couldn't. Their pricing was fair and my car rides like a new vehicle. I would not hesitate to recommend this shop to you. A. Roussy
Date: June 13, 2021
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Honest service. Quick service. Good...
Salem Kadu
Honest service. Quick service. Good value for money.
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At Mr. Transmission in Coquitlam,...
Richard Dixon
At Mr. Transmission in Coquitlam, B.C., Frank and his staff proved to be competent and professional, providing fair and honest service for a clutch replacement, and maintaining good communication during the repair process.
Date: June 12, 2021
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Ken and his team did...
Brian Herbert
Ken and his team did a great job and was a smooth process in getting my transmission rebuilt. Only took a few days and job was done!
Date: June 11, 2021
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These guys are awesome!!!Brought my...
Kevin Mills
These guys are awesome!!!Brought my daughter's car in as it was clunking severely in reverse. They had it looked after and back on the road in no time!!
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Dave Hammond
Very happy with the service provided by Kyle and his team ! They are Pro's with an emphasis on Customer Service,they performed a diagnostic at n/c to me,gave me an estimate, set an appointment and completed the work the right way the first time and came in a little under the estimate to rebuild my rear diff.Highly Recommended!
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Repaired Jeep Compass throttle body and Mercedes Benz battery. Thank you very much
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Professional, friendly and very helpful!
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Professional, friendly and very helpful!
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Gave me good advice and...
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Gave me good advice and saved me money
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Been going to this location for years, Best in class service, repair and helpful advice
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