Several new vehicles, including the Ford F150, no longer have a transmission dipstick. Read why this is becoming a popular trend and how you can check your transmission fluid when there is no dipstick.
Time and time again, we’ve recommended that customers keep an eye on the level and the condition of their transmission fluid (see: How Do I Check My Transmission Fluid Level?, Transmission Fluid Diagnosis and Changing Transmission Fluids).
We recommend this for several reasons. Mainly, because the more informed you are regarding the warning signs of a transmission problem, the less likely you are going to require a major transmission repair. Checking the fluid will tell you if the fluid is low and the condition of the fluid. Having this knowledge could potentially save you thousands of dollars down the road, not to mention the unwanted hassle.
The issue is, a recently emerging new trend whereby transmission fluid dipsticks have begun disappearing in newer vehicles. One such vehicle is the Ford F150, Canada’s best selling truck.
Is the absence of the dipstick just a fad or does it have merit?
There is a lot of controversy surrounding this new dipstick-free trend. Why? Because now there is no way for the consumer to check the condition or the level of the automatic transmission fluid. There is also no way for the consumer to add fluid if it is low. The days of periodically checking your transmission fluid level by pulling a metal dipstick from a tube alongside your engine are rapidly coming to a close.
The industry argument
According to the industry experts, the reason for eliminating the transmission dipstick is that although most consumers may believe they should check their transmission dipstick and fluid level, experts claim that it is actually better for vehicle transmissions to only be serviced by professionals. For example, adding improper fluid to the transmission is actually detrimental to its life, which is why manufacturers decided that getting rid of the dipstick was one way to prevent premature, owner-induced transmission failure in new vehicles.
How to check your transmission fluid when there’s no dipstick
If you have a newer car or truck model that has no transmission dipstick, this is actually evidence that the vehicle’s manufacturer expects the original transmission fluid to last the life of the vehicle.
How do you check?
The location of the transmission fluid check point varies greatly from one car model to the next, so it can be easy to miss if you’re not fully familiar with the vehicle in question. Typically, the handle of this dipstick would be either ring-shaped or T-shaped, and it may have the word “trans” or “transmission” printed on it.
You should consult the owner’s manual for the vehicle to determine whether or not your model has a dipstick less transmission.
If you discover that your vehicle has a dipstick less transmission, and yet you’ve identified that your vehicle is experiencing transmission problems, you’ll need to take it to a specialist with a hydraulic car lift or an underground oil change bay. The transmission fluid check point on a sealed transmission is only accessible from underneath the vehicle. In addition, the vehicle must be level to ensure an accurate reading. Therefore, you cannot lift one side of the car using a standard garage jack; you need to take the vehicle to a specialist with the proper service equipment.
For vehicles with these types of transmissions, you as the consumer are limited in your options to self-diagnose the problem. Because transmissions are such complex systems, our recommendation is to bring your vehicle in to Mister Transmission, where our technicians have the training and the equipment to properly assess the problem.
If you own a vehicle without a transmission dipstick and you are experiencing transmission-related issues, please come see us. We can help you identify the problem and figure out a game plan to get you back on the road.