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.

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  • Edmonton, AB
  • T5P 3Z7
  • 587-786-6465

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Customer Reviews
Frank Matchett - You fit our vehich
Karen D
Frank Matchett - You fit our vehichle (Toyota Celica) into the Coquitlam Shop so quickly on Monday, June 29th. I am from Kamloops. This was during Canada Day week too. You found a transmission on Vancouver Island and even offered to pick it up yourself if possible. You personally dropped me off and picked me up at the location I was staying at on Port Moody. I so appreciated that kindness. You went above and beyond and kept me, reassured that I would be home on Thursday. My husband was not with me yet you communicated the updates with both him & myself (he was in Kamloops.) You were wonderful with your communication, swiftness in finding the part, I\'m grateful that you fit my car in during this holiday week & your kindness to drop me off & pick me up was so appreciated. So thankful for all that you did Frank Matchett. Sincerely - Mrs. K Devlin
Date: July 3, 2020
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Frank and the crew in Coquitlam did
Harold P
Frank and the crew in Coquitlam did a great job and very quickly repaired my Jeep.
Date: July 2, 2020
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Andrew Ouellette was amazing. Serv
Steve R
Andrew Ouellette was amazing. Service was booked the next day. dropped the car off at 1pm. Received a call on the work required by 2pm and picked up the car by 4pm. A great service experience!
Date: July 1, 2020
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Great customer service
Darin K
Great customer service
Date: July 1, 2020
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Great service
Greg K
Great service
Date: June 30, 2020
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Ken is great - knowledgeable skille
Kyle T
Ken is great - knowledgeable skilled friendly and honest and fair. What more could you want?
Date: June 30, 2020
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Chris & Kurt were Awesome they both
MARC M
Chris & Kurt were Awesome they both went above and beyond ! From Kurt using the Diagnostic tool before they opened as I needed to get to work by 8:50 AM to Chris looking into my options & working on my Transmission They are both incredible ! you have a set of Ambassadors for Mister Transmission that live a vision of caring for the well being of their clients. I will defiantly refer people to them as they are without a doubt the best of the best ! Thank you again Kurt and Chris ! You guys deserve an Award ! Regards Marc
Date: June 29, 2020
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Pleased with professional and frien
Kim G
Pleased with professional and friendly service and same day repair
Date: June 27, 2020
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As always the service was great, th
Tyson T
As always the service was great, the right work that needed to be done was done.
Date: June 27, 2020
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So far, repair seems fine
Betty H
So far, repair seems fine
Date: June 26, 2020
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