There are many moving parts in your vehicle, and these components need to be lubricated to protect them against wear and damage. Take your transmission system, for instance. The inner workings of your vehicle transmission is lubricated by a special reddish or pinkish fluid called transmission fluid. There is an optimum level for this fluid, which must be maintained in order to keep transmission working properly. A leak in the system can mean slipping or complete inability to shift, which can be dangerous.
How do I check the level of my transmission fluid?
You may have heard or read that transmission fluid can be checked by looking at the transmission dipstick, similar to how an engine dipstick is used. However, things aren’t that simple. Is your car automatic or manual? This question is important because only automatic transmissions have dipsticks. Manual gearboxes are factory-filled, and require no top-up. The manual transmission fluid is designed to be replaced by a professional repairman during repairs or maintenance services.
Finding the transmission dipstick
The transmission dipstick usually has a red handle. For comparison’s sake, engine dipsticks are generally yellow or white. Transmission dipsticks are usually on the passenger side of the engine bay in rear-wheel-drive vehicles and on the driver’s side in front-wheeled ones. If you can’t locate your car’s transmission dipstick, your owner’s manual will contain that information. Or you can check online for your specific car model.
Using the transmission dipstick
If you know how to check your engine’s oil levels, then you likely know how to use a transmission dipstick once you locate it. Simply remove the stick, clean residual oil with a clean cloth, put it back, count to five, and then pull it back out. Fluid below optimal level? Refer to your owner’s manual on how to top up your transmission fluid, and follow the instructions to the letter.
Do all automatic transmissions have a dipstick?
No. In reality, most modern cars don’t have transmission dipsticks anymore. Many carmakers have phased it out, owing to the fact that today’s automatic systems are far more complicated than older models, and that’s why specialist procedures done by professional technicians are necessary in such cases.