Keeping a sufficient level of transmission fluid is crucial. If you drive with insufficient transmission fluid, you run the risk of compromising road safety, destroying critical system components, and having to pay exorbitant repair and part replacement costs.
Fortunately, transmission fluid is relatively cheap, and keeping yours at the optimal level is easy, especially if you know how to spot the signs of fluid shortages.
Read on to learn some transmission fluid fundamentals, and find how to spot the signs of low transmission fluid before it costs you an arm-and-a-leg and contact a Mister Transmission technician to book a free inspection and same-day quote at a shop near you.
Transmission fluid fundamentals: 6 reasons to stay on the level
Automatic transmission fluid is the life blood of the automatic transmission. It is also used in continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) and occasionally in manual transmissions, though the latter more commonly uses transmission oil. In all cases, transmission fluids play a similar role, keeping your system running as intended and increasing the service life of critical components by:
- Lubricating your vehicle’s mechanical parts
- Maintaining fluid pressure
- Cooling your transmission system
- Preventing aeration
- Conditioning the gasket
- Preventing rust formation
Given this wide range of benefits, it should come as no surprise that low levels of transmission fluid can cause all sorts of problems. And the more you know about these problems and their warning signs, the greater your odds of preventing minor issues from snowballing into major expenses and safety concerns.
Read on to learn more, or contact your local Mister Transmission to speak directly with a certified transmission specialist near you.
Save on transmission service: 7 signs of low transmission fluid
Insufficient transmission fluid can cause or contribute to a whole host of problems, some of which can be detected without any special training or equipment. To save on transmission service, watch out for the following low-fluid warning signs:
- Slow Gear Engagement
With a low level of transmission fluid comes low levels of pressure. This can mean that your transmission is slow to engage when you shift gears. If you find that your transmission takes a second to engage into drive or reverse, it’s time to check your transmission fluid level.
- Problems Shifting Gears
Slow gear engagement isn’t the only problem you might encounter when you try to gear up or down. If you feel any resistance, grinding, or friction when you try to shift, something’s awry, and there’s a good chance that low transmission fluid is to blame.
- Transmission Overheating
As the old saying goes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire! While your transmission system may not burst into flames, low fluid can create excess friction and heat that causes varnish to form on metal parts, seals to harden, and clutches/transmission bands to slip.
- Warning Light Turns On
If your “Check Engine” light turns on, there’s a chance that your transmission system is acting up. Of course, there could be many other causes, so we recommend looking for symptom clusters (i.e. two or more symptoms of insufficient transmission fluid) to confirm, or booking a free road test and multicheckto pinpoint the problem.
- Slipping Gears
Sometimes, instead of making it too hard to shift gears, low transmission fluid causes the opposite problem, making it so shift-sensitive that it slips out of gear on its own, without any input from the driver. As you might have guessed, this is a serious problem, one that can jeopardize road safety for you and nearby drivers. This usually occurs shortly after you have switched gears and it usually slips into neutral, but not always. Again, low transmission fluid can cause this because of low hydraulic pressure.
- Funny Noises
Your transmission will often tell you if something is wrong, as long as you know how to listen. Fortunately, even a transmission tyro will have no problem determining when something’s awry—it just sounds wrong, even to an inexperienced ear. Manual transmissions tend to clunk and grind, whereas automatic transmissions whine, whir, and hum. If you hear any of these odd noises while you’re behind the wheel, you could have a faulty transmission on your hands, and low transmission fluid may be at the root of the problem. But you’ll need to contact a transmission professional to know for sure.
- Transmission Fluid Where It’s Not Supposed to Be
Another way you can tell if you have low transmission fluid is if the fluid is not where it’s supposed to be, e.g., on your driveway. If you see patches of reddish liquid leaking out of your vehicle and pooling under your car, you could be low on transmission fluid, and additional repairs may be needed.
Where to fill up on transmission fluid near me: Call Mister Transmission
With Mister Transmission on your team, maintaining the correct transmission fluid levels is easy.
For your convenience, we offer:
To book a free transmission road test and multicheck, and get a same-day quote on any service, you can: