Home Diagnosis and TroubleshootingGearbox and Transmission When To Check Transmission Fluid: How To And Why Should You?

When To Check Transmission Fluid: How To And Why Should You?

by Alex Turner
When To Check Transmission Fluid
  • How to Tell
  • Benefits
  • What Happens
  • Common Signs
  • The Best Way
  • DIY Tips

How to Tell When It’s Time to Check Your Transmission Fluid

It is important to check your transmission fluid regularly to ensure that your vehicle is running properly. Knowing when it is time to check the fluid can help you avoid costly repairs and keep your car running smoothly. Here are some tips on how to tell when it’s time to check your transmission fluid:

  1. Check the owner’s manual (or a set of auto repair manuals) for the manufacturer’s recommended interval for checking the transmission fluid. This will vary depending on make and model, so be sure to consult the manual for specific instructions.
  2. Look for signs of leaking or low levels of transmission fluid, such as a puddle under your car or a burning smell coming from underneath the hood. If you notice either of these signs, it is important to check the level of transmission fluid immediately and top it off if necessary.
  3. Listen for any unusual noises coming from underneath the hood while driving, such as grinding or whining sounds that could indicate a problem with your transmission system. If you hear any strange noises while driving, it may be time to have a professional inspect and possibly change out your transmission fluid if needed.
  4. Pay attention to how well your vehicle shifts gears while driving; if there are any delays or jerking motions when shifting gears this could indicate an issue with low levels of transmission fluid or other problems with its components that need attention right away.

By following these tips, you can easily determine when it’s time to check and possibly change out your vehicle’s transmission fluid in order to keep it running smoothly and safely on the road. Also, if you want to learn more about how transmission fluid (or ATF fluid) works, you can check out our discussion on whether can you use transmission fluid for power steering fluid.

The Benefits of Regularly Checking Your Transmission Fluid

Regularly checking your transmission fluid is an important part of maintaining the health of your vehicle. Transmission fluid helps to lubricate and cool the components of your transmission, allowing it to shift gears smoothly and efficiently.

Without proper maintenance, the transmission can become damaged or even fail. Here are some of the benefits that come with regularly checking your transmission fluid (and understanding how to check your transmission fluid, as well as whether to check the transmission fluid when it’s hot or cold):

  1. Improved Performance: Regularly checking and changing your transmission fluid will help ensure that it is clean and free from contaminants, which can cause damage to internal components over time. This will help keep your vehicle running at its best performance level for longer periods.
  2. Reduced Repair Costs: By regularly inspecting and replacing old or contaminated fluids, you can reduce the risk of costly repairs due to damage caused by dirty fluids or low levels in the system. It’s a lot costlier than the cost of a transmission fluid change process, as well as changing the transmission fluid.
  3. Extended Lifespan: Keeping up with regular maintenance on your vehicle’s transmission will extend its lifespan significantly by preventing wear-and-tear on internal components caused by dirt or low levels in the system over time.
  4. Increased Safety: Properly maintained transmissions are less likely to experience sudden failure while driving, which could lead to dangerous situations on busy roads or highways if not addressed quickly enough by a professional mechanic or technician.

Overall, regularly checking and changing out old fluids promptly is essential for keeping any car running smoothly for years down the road without having to worry about costly repairs due to neglecting basic maintenance tasks such as this one.

What Happens If You Don’t Check Your Transmission Fluid

If you do not check your transmission fluid, it can lead to a variety of problems. The most common issue is that the transmission will overheat due to a lack of lubrication. This can cause damage to the internal components of the transmission, such as seals and gaskets, which can be costly to repair or replace.

Additionally, if there is not enough fluid in the system, it may cause shifting issues or even complete failure of the transmission. Furthermore, if there is too much fluid in the system it could lead to leaks and other issues as well. Therefore, checking your transmission fluid regularly is essential for maintaining its health and performance.

Common Signs That You Need to Check Your Transmission Fluid

When To Check Transmission Fluid

  1. Unusual noises: If you hear any strange noises coming from your vehicle, such as grinding, whining, or humming, it could be a sign that your transmission fluid is low or needs to be changed.
  2. Slipping gears: If you notice that your car is slipping out of gear while driving, this could indicate a problem with the transmission fluid level or quality.
  3. Leaking fluid: If you see any red liquid leaking from the bottom of your car, it’s likely transmission fluid and should be checked immediately by a professional mechanic. To understand more about this issue, check out our guides on what a transmission fluid leak is, as well as the symptoms of low transmission fluid.
  4. Burning smell: A burning smell coming from the engine area can indicate that there is an issue with the transmission and should be checked right away to prevent further damage to the system.
  5. Difficulty shifting gears: If you are having difficulty shifting gears when driving, this could mean that there is an issue with the transmission, and should be looked at by a professional mechanic as soon as possible to avoid further damage to the system.

How Often Should You Check Your Vehicle’s Transmission Fluid?

It is recommended that you check your vehicle’s transmission fluid at least once every two months or every 3,000 miles (if you want to learn more, check out our explainer on whether should I change the transmission fluid after 100k miles), whichever comes first. Checking the transmission fluid regularly helps to ensure that it is at the correct level and in good condition.

It also allows you to identify any potential problems before they become more serious and costly to repair. When checking the transmission fluid, make sure that it is clean and free of debris or discoloration. If there are any signs of contamination or wear, have a professional mechanic inspect your vehicle as soon as possible.

The Best Way to Check and Top Off Low Levels of Transmission Fluid

Checking and topping off low levels of transmission fluid is an important part of maintaining a vehicle. It is essential to ensure that the transmission fluid remains at the correct level to keep the vehicle running smoothly and efficiently. Here are some steps to follow when checking and topping off low levels of transmission fluid:

  1. Park your car on a level surface and turn off the engine. Make sure that it has had time to cool down before proceeding with any maintenance work.
  2. Locate the dipstick for your transmission fluid, which should be located near or on top of the engine block, depending on your make and model of car. Pull out the dipstick, wipe it clean with a rag, then reinsert it into its tube until it stops moving downward. Pull out again and check for any signs of discoloration or debris in the oil (you can learn more in our write-up on the transmission fluid color and burnt transmission fluid); if there are any signs, you may need to have your transmission serviced by a professional mechanic as soon as possible.
  3. Check where the dipstick indicates “full”; if you find that your current level is below this mark, you will need to add more transmission fluid to bring it up to full capacity again.
  4. Purchase an appropriate type of automatic transmission fluid from an auto parts store; make sure that you get one specifically designed for use in your particular make/model/year vehicle (consulting with a knowledgeable salesperson can help).
  5. Open up your hood and locate where you will be adding new oil; this should be marked near or around where you found the dipstick earlier (again depending on make/model).
  6. Carefully pour new oil into this area until it reaches just below the “full” mark indicated by the dipstick earlier (do not overfill). Replace the cap securely after finishing pouring new oil into the reservoir area before closing the hood back up again securely afterward too.
  7. Start up the engine once more after all these steps have been completed successfully – check for any leaks underneath the car afterward too. If everything looks good then congratulations -you’ve successfully topped off low levels of automatic transmission fluid.

Different Types of Automatic and Manual Transmissions and When Should They Be Serviced

Automatic and manual transmissions are two types of transmission systems used in vehicles. Automatic transmissions use a torque converter to transfer power from the engine to the wheels, while manual transmissions use a clutch and gear system. Both types of transmission require regular servicing to keep them running smoothly and efficiently.

Automatic Transmissions: Automatic transmissions should be serviced every 30,000 miles or every two years, whichever comes first. During service, the fluid should be changed and all filters replaced as needed. The transmission should also be inspected for any signs of wear or damage that could lead to problems down the road.

Manual Transmissions: Manual transmissions require more frequent servicing than automatic ones; they should be serviced every 15,000 miles or once a year, whichever comes first. During service, all fluids should be changed and all filters replaced as needed. The clutch system should also be inspected for any signs of wear or damage that could lead to problems down the road.

In both cases, it is important to have your vehicle serviced regularly by an experienced mechanic who can properly diagnose any potential issues with your transmission before they become serious problems that may require costly repairs or replacements later on down the line.

DIY Tips for Checking and Changing Out Old or Dirty Transmission Fluids

  1. Check the fluid level: Before attempting to change out your transmission fluid, it is important to check the fluid level (make sure that you don’t put too much, as too much transmission fluid in your car is bad, too). This can be done by locating the dipstick and pulling it out. If the fluid is at or below the “low” mark, you will need to add more before proceeding with a change.
  2. Drain and replace: Once you have checked that there is enough transmission fluid in your vehicle, you can begin draining and replacing it with new fluid. To do this, locate the drain plug on your transmission pan and remove it using a wrench or socket set. Allow all of the old fluid to drain out before replacing it with new transmission oil of an appropriate viscosity for your vehicle’s make and model.
  3. Refill: After replacing all of the old oil with new oil, refill your transmission pan until it reaches its maximum capacity as indicated by its dipstick or fill tube (if applicable). Make sure not to overfill as this could cause damage to other components in your vehicle’s drivetrain system.
  4. Clean up: Once you have finished refilling your transmission pan, clean up any spilled fluids using rags or paper towels before disposing of them properly according to local regulations for hazardous waste disposal to protect yourself from potential harm caused by contact with these materials.
  5. Test drive: Finally, take a test drive after changing out your old transmission fluids to ensure that everything is working correctly and that no leaks are present from either side of the engine bay.


1. How often should I check my transmission fluid?

It is recommended to check your transmission fluid every 30,000 miles or once a year, whichever comes first. If you notice any changes in the color or smell of the fluid, it is important to have it checked immediately.

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