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How to Check Your Transmission Fluid

It may not surprise you to know this, but most car owners don’t know how to check their transmission fluid levels. If you’re one of these individuals, then don’t feel embarrassed. This blog is here to help.  

To start, it’s important to recognize when there’s an issue that might require you to check your transmission fluid. For example, if you own a vehicle with an automatic transmission, shifting gears should be simple and relatively seamless. However, if you’ve noticed that your engine seems to hesitate or stall before shifting from one gear to the next, then that could be the result of a maintenance issue and a potential mechanical problem.

There’s no need to panic and take your vehicle to your local service center just yet. The solution to this mechanical problem could be as simple as replenishing the transmission fluid. If you’re reading this blog because you have never done this before, then rest assured that we will walk you through this simple task. While changing your transmission fluid may seem intimidating, it’s a simple DIY vehicle maintenance task that could save you a few some money and a trip to the shop.

First, start by locating the dipstick. Your transmission dipstick will look basically like your oil dipstick but color-coded to help you tell the two apart. While the exact location of the dipstick can vary, it’s typically toward the rear of the engine in rear-wheel-drive vehicles and found sticking out of the transaxle in vehicles with front-wheel drive. In most cases, start by looking toward the front of the engine.

Once you’ve located the dipstick, you can now check your fluid level. Make sure that your vehicle is set to “Park” or “Neutral” and that your parking brake is on. Now start running your engine, pop the hood, and leave the engine running before you pull out the dipstick. Make sure the engine is warm as you check the fluid level.

The next thing you’ll do is dip your index finger into the fluid on the dipstick and rub it between your finger and thumb.  What you want to see is some pink or red-tinted, but mostly clear liquid. If you notice a burning smell or too many particles present in the fluid, then you’ll need to change the transmission fluid right away.  If everything is right, then you’ll just need to check the actual level. Grab a clean, lint-free rag and wipe the dipstick clean before re-inserting it again. If you see some of that pinkish liquid when you pull the dipstick back out, but it does not quite reach the “full” level, use a funnel to pour a bit more transmission fluid into the tank. Make sure to pour in just enough to reach the full line and avoid overfilling. When you’re done, reinsert the dipstick when you’re finished.

Now that you know how to check your transmission fluid, you have a leg up on other drivers. However, it’s important to keep in mind that a faulty transmission and one that needs fluid can share similar symptoms. While topping off your fluid is cheaper than a complete replacement, it’s important to remember that your friends at Quic Transmission are always ready to help you. If you’re still feeling uncertain about what’s wrong with your vehicle call (505) 271-8000 and schedule service with us today!

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