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How to Check Your Transmission Fluid

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Adding Transmission Fluid to car

Are you experiencing some hesitation in your transmission when it changes gears? This could be a simple matter of being low on transmission fluid.

Here at the Nissan of Mobile Service Department, we believe it’s always important to be prepared. That’s why we’ve provided our fellow Mobile, Prichard, and Saraland area drivers with this guide to help you through the process of checking your transmission fluid and how to fill it if it’s low.

The Necessary Materials to Check Your Transmission Fluid

Checking your transmission fluid is a fairly simple, straightforward task that requires minimal supplies. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A clean rag
  • Transmission fluid (refer to owner’s manual for which type of fluid to use for your car)
  • A funnel

Step 1: Warm Up Your Car

Whenever you check your transmission fluid, you always want to make sure the car is warmed up since transmission fluid expands when it gets hot. For an accurate reading, the fluid needs to be the same temperature and consistency as it is when the car is being driven. Looking at it when it’s cold will possibly give you an inaccurately low level because it has not expanded.

Although there are some cars that require you to shut them off once the engine has warmed up, most cars need to continue running during the entire transmission fluid check. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual for the specific procedure pertaining to your car.

Step 2: Check the Transmission Fluid

The transmission dipstick is usually clearly labeled and can be found near the oil dipstick. Remove the dipstick and wipe it with the rag. Once you’ve done this, examine the fluid on the rag for the following:

  • Color: Healthy transmission fluid should be anywhere from clear red to light brown. If your fluid is dark brown, you should get your car in to get it changed. Black transmission fluid likely means there are issues with your transmission and you should get it serviced.
  • Smell: Your fluid shouldn’t give off too much of a smell. If you’re detecting a burnt scent, this could be a sign that there’s something wrong with your transmission.
  • Consistency: If your fluid is healthy, it’ll be free of debris or bubbles.

If you’re satisfied with the color, smell, and consistency of your transmission fluid, go ahead and reinsert the dipstick.

Step 3: Check the Fluid Levels

After you’ve returned the dipstick, take it out again to check the amount of fluid in the transmission. When you do this, you’ll see two lines on the dipstick. You want the fluid to lie somewhere in between these lines.

Step 4: Add More Fluid

If the fluid is below the lower line, you’ll need to add more. To do this, insert the funnel and slowly pour the fluid in. After that, reinsert the dipstick and check the levels. If the fluid is between the lines, you should be good to go.

Want to know more about automotive maintenance? Check out our FREE Driver’s Guide to Automotive Maintenance eBook to learn about routine maintenance and receive a special money-saving offer when you download!

Check Your Transmission Fluid Regularly

If you have any questions about how to check your transmission fluid, be sure to ask a professional.

If you’re in Mobile, Prichard, or Saraland and would like to have your transmission fluid checked or are having some issues with your transmission, contact the professionals at Nissan of Mobile and schedule a service appointment.

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