How to test your transmission fluid

IF you want to keep your car for the long haul, it’s important to follow basic maintenance steps for your vehicle.

Routine checks include oil changes and tire changes, but there’s another area to watch for: your transmission.

Your transmission is what keeps your car running smoothly


Your transmission is what keeps your car running smoothly

Your transmission is what keeps your car running smoothly.

It affects the gears that you use several times a day when you shift it to drive, reverse or park.

When you keep your transmissions up and running, you save money.

Your gearbox is one of the most expensive parts to repair or replace.

Here are tips for healthy transmission.

Liquid test

Conventional automatics, dual-clutch automatics, and continuously variable automatics each use a specific type of transmission fluid.

If you’re not sure what fluid is used in your transmission, check your owner’s manual.

A visual inspection will be done when you check the fluid.

You will need to consider the level and condition of your transmission fluid.

Find the dipstick

To find the transmission dipstick, look under the hood in the engine compartment.

Make sure you are locating the transmission oil dipstick and not the engine oil dipstick.

The drive probe is usually further down in the engine bay, towards the firewall which is the bulkhead in front of the cabin.

The drive probe is usually marked with a specific color or a transmission symbol.

If you can’t find the dipstick, don’t worry.

Many modern cars use sealed transmissions that never require a fluid check or change – so the car doesn’t have a dipstick.

In this case, consult your owner’s manual for your model-specific maintenance schedule and double-check that it has a transmission dipstick.

If your car has a closed transmission, you can close the hood and drive.

If your vehicle does not have a transmission dipstick, you will need to check the level.

Check the level

Once the engine has warmed up, leave the vehicle idling in a parking lot, on a level surface.

Pull out the dipstick, clean it, change it slowly, then pull it back.

Check the liquid level, which means the liquid is rising, on the oil dipstick.

Usually there will be full, low and full lines on the dipstick to help you.

Liquid Condition

Now place the dipstick on a white surface, such as a paper towel, to check the color of the liquid.

The condition of your transmission fluid is indicated by the color of the fluid.

If your discharge is healthy, it will be pinkish red.

If it gets to the point where it needs replacing, it will be reddish-brown.

If the liquid is dark brown or black, you’ll probably be replacing more than just your liquid.

Black discharge with a burning smell is bad news.

In the worst case scenario, you may find fine metal debris in the liquid.

Both of those things lead to possible damage to the components inside your transmission.

You should contact your mechanic.

Low liquid

If your fluid is low, it’s not necessarily bad. It could mean that there is a leak somewhere in the system.

Filling the transmission line and then checking it daily to see how quickly it drops can be a good way to gauge the severity of a potential leak.

Also, try to visually check your transmission by looking under the car for any fluid coming out of it.

If the liquid is black, it is engine oil.

If it’s water, it’s most likely condensate from the air conditioning system.

If you notice some loss of transmission fluid or observe that your actuator is using an unusual amount of fluid, contact your mechanic as soon as possible.

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