Transmission Inspection : How to check transmission fluid

Transmission Inspection: How to check Transmission Fluid

Why worry about your vehicle’s transmission fluid levels? All vehicle owners can benefit from a basic knowledge of a car’s maintenance requirements to keep it running well. A transmission inspection is a simple maintenance task, but it safeguards a critical component of the vehicle’s drivetrain for safety and efficiency reasons.

Below, Lopers Performance Center provides tips on how to conduct regular transmission inspections to stay on the road for longer.

Check the Transmission in Eight Easy Steps

Most transmission checks won’t even need tools or a vehicle-specific manual. Checking the level of the fluid is a simple process that anyone can do themselves at home.

Park For Your Transmission Inspection

The first step for a safe and easy transmission inspection is to park the car on a level surface and leave the engine running. Level parking makes the next step easier and prevents potential damage or spillage. Adjust the parking brake to avoid unnecessary movement of the vehicle during the inspection.

Pop The Hood

  • After parking, locate the bonnet’s release handle (on the engine compartment closer to the driver’s side). 
  • Use one hand to pull up on the handle while simultaneously pushing down on the hood with the other. 

Some cars may have a button to open and close the hood, which is much easier than physically maneuvering the hood. If you want to be sure of the location or mechanisms, be sure to consult the manual for your particular model. You could also ask a local professional like Lopers Performance Center.

Locate The Dipstick

Manufacturers mark the dipstick with a series of lines. It should also have a red handle or cap visible. Some cars will have more than one dipstick, so carefully read the markings on each to locate the transmission. 

  • Remove the cap from the fluid dipstick.
  • Clean it off, and insert it back into the opening of the transmission.
  • Pull back on the dipstick to remove it completely from the transmission housing. 
  • Inspect the transmission fluid levels on the dipstick.

Is there enough of it? Is the color light amber?

Check The Fluid Level

If the fluid is low or the color is too dark, you may need to add more fluid and recheck the levels. To recheck the fluid level, place the dipstick back into the opening in the transmission and re-examine the fluid for quantity and color. You may need to clean the stick again before doing the final check after a refill.

Inspect The Condition of The Fluid

Transmission-based fluid is generally a bright red to orange or amber color. It should always look clean and be free of debris. If the fluid looks discolored, it is best to flush the transmission and replace the fluid as soon as possible. 

Also, check the oil pan for any signs of leaks or excessive wear to rule out other issues.

Replace The Filter

When checking the fluid, it is helpful to inspect the filter on your transmission at the same time. If your transmission comes with a filter, remove it by twisting it counterclockwise and pulling it out. 

  • Clean the filter thoroughly with warm soapy water.
  • Allow it to dry before reinserting it into the transmission housing.
  • Return the filter cap.
  • Replace the oil dipstick. 

This step isn’t always necessary if your vehicle has a filter that requires less frequent replacement. For instance, you may have an air-oil separator or a foam air filter.

Run The Car For A Few Minutes

The next step is to test whether your car is running smoothly. You’ll want to try a few gears to test the car if you have a manual transmission. Automatic transmissions switch gears for you, so don’t worry about this step if you drive an automatic vehicle.

  • Put the vehicle into drive and start the engine.
  • Allow the engine to run for about five minutes.

The time will allow all fluids to circulate within the system and reach the correct operating temperatures. It also purges air pockets and makes any necessary repairs more effective. 

Turn Off The Engine

What’s the final step of your transmission inspection? Cool the engine and turn it off! Check your brakes to ensure they are working correctly, and repeat this process every time you change your fluid.

That’s all you need to know about the fluid levels in your car’s transmission. If you notice anything amiss during this process, be sure to contact us for anything from routine maintenance to serious repairs. Call Lopers Performance Center at (602) 264-5288 today to schedule an appointment or learn more about the best transmission fluid for your car.