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How to Properly Check Transmission
Fluid Level and Condition



NOTHING IS MORE CRUCIAL to the continued operation of an
automatic transmission than the fluid level and condition.  Checking fluid level and condition monthly is highly recommended.  Doing so could save you thousands of dollars in repair bills.

Note: These DIY procedures are for checking the automatic transmission fluid level and condition in transmissions and transaxles that have a dipstick.  If your transmission does not have a dipstick, you have a sealed transmission.


cf> Paper Towels or Clean Rag
> Funnel with Small Opening
> Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF)

Always refer to your Vehicle Owner's Manual for the type of transmission fluid to use.  If you do not have your Owner's Manual, refer to our Transmission Fluid Application Guide

Checking Transmission Fluid Level
DIY Instructions Begin Here

1. Park vehicle on a level surface

2. Start the engine and allow to warm up to normal operating temperature.

If vehicle has recently been driven and the engine is
already warm, you can skip #3.

3. Once warm, depress the brake pedal and move the shifter through all the gears - pausing several seconds between each shift before returning the shifter to Park.

4. Set the parking brake and pull the hood release.

5. With the engine running and the transmission in Park, open the hood and locate the transmission dipstick.

transmission dipstick

Transmission Dipstick location

Transmission - Rear Wheel Drive.  The transmission dipstick is normally located on the right "passenger" side of the engine compartment back near the firewall. 

Most transmission dipsticks have a red handle.

transmission dipstick

Transaxle - Front Wheel Drive The transaxle dipstick is normally located on the left "driver's" side of the engine compartment on top of the transaxle.


6. Pull the transmission dipstick out of the fill tube and check the fluid level with the markings on the dipstick.  Wipe the fluid from the dipstick with a paper towel or clean rag.  Re-insert the dipstick fully into the fill tube and then pull out a second time - check the fluid level again.

checking transmission fluid level...  if fluid level is at "Full" or in the "Full Range" - No fluid is needed.  Replace the dipstick - close hood and shut engine off.

...  If fluid level shows Less Than Full - wipe the fluid off the dipstick using a paper towel or clean rag and set aside.  Go to next step.

7. ADD TRANSMISSION FLUID.  Refer to your Vehicle Owner's Manual for the type of ATF to use or refer to our Automatic Transmission Fluid Application Guide.  To ADD FLUID, insert a small tipped funnel into the fill tube and pour approximately 1/4 to 1/2 quart of fluid into the transmission.  Do not overfill.

8. REMOVE FUNNEL and RE-INSERT DIPSTICK back into the fill tube.  Be certain to push the dipstick fully into the tube.

9. CHECK FLUID LEVEL AGAIN: Pull dipstick and recheck fluid level. If fluid level still shows less than full, wipe the dipstick clean and set aside.  Add a small amount of ATF and then re-insert the dipstick.  Pull the dipstick and check the fluid level again.  Repeat these procedures until fluid level is at the "FULL" line or in the FULL RANGE".  Do not overfill.

Continue...  How to properly check transmission fluid condition
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