Your vehicle’s automatic transmission system is one of several hydraulic systems in your car. If your vehicle is having any issues when your automatic transmission shifts gears, look into the transmission fluid level before you let any mechanic start talking about car servicing deals or adjusting your transmission or selling you a new one.
Checking the transmission fluid level calls for working under the hood of your car with the engine running. This can be very dangerous if you aren’t careful. Be aware of moving components, such as fans, fan belts, pulleys, etc. If you aren’t comfortable with this process, always bring your car to your local service station to have the transmission fluid inspected.
To check your automatic transmission fluid, follow these steps:
Prepare the automobile. Warm up the fluid by idling or driving the vehicle. Locate the dipstick and remove it, wipe it clean, examine the level marks and then insert it again. Refer to the shop manual to see what position the gear selector should be in, as different manufacturers specify different gear positions. This is located toward the rear of an in-line engine on vehicles with rear-wheel drive. If your vehicle has front-wheel drive, the transmission fluid dipstick is sticking out of the transaxle.
Park vehicle on the level surface, engage the parking brake and start the engine. Leave the car in neutral or park. Let engine warm up and continue to run throughout operation unless vehicle’s owner’s manual says otherwise. Be sure the engine is warm when you pull out the dipstick.
Pull out the dipstick. Once you’ve located the dipstick, pull it out and, with a rag, wipe it off and put it back in. Then, immediately pull it back out and check the level. There should be a marked area that shows you if there is enough fluid to properly lubricate the transmission.
Check the fluid. Dip the tip of your index finger into the fluid on the dipstick and rub the fluid between your finger and the tip of your thumb. The transmission fluid on the dipstick should be pinkish and almost clear. Be wary of burned odour that suggests trouble inside an automatic transmission. If it looks or smells burnt or has particles in it, have a mechanic drain and change the fluid.