How To Check and Add Transmission Fluid?

If you own a vehicle, then you must know that your car needs transmission fluid to ensure the transmission system works appropriately. However, the fluid is not needed for electronic vehicles. The oily substances of the fluid lubricate the components of the transmission.

When it comes to changing the transmission fluid, people assume vehicles with automatic transmission need it, but in reality, vehicles with manual transmission systems also need transmission fluid.

Hiring a professional mechanic to change the transmission fluid is something that most people prefer. If you want to do the same, then it will cost you hundreds of dollars. Adding or changing transmission fluid is quite an easy task. Almost everyone can do it. Thus, if you don’t want to bear additional maintenance expenses, you must learn to do it yourself. You can learn how to do it by following some simple steps.

Steps to Check The Transmission Fluid Level

The very first step which you need to take before adding transmission fluid is checking your transmission fluid level. It will help you determine whether you have to change the fluid or not. Checking the fluid level doesn’t take a lot of time, and it’s very straightforward. You just need Gloves and Paper towels or rags to do that.

Step 1: Park Your Car On A Plane Surface

Before you go to measure the fluid level, make sure that your vehicle is on a flat surface. It will be better if you go through all the gears before parking the vehicle. Don’t turn off the engine while checking the fluid level. This will ensure that you can get accurate results.

Step 2: Open The Hood

Open the hood by using the switch or lever inside the car. If your car’s hood automatically stays in its place, then it’s okay. Otherwise, you need to use a metal bar to hold it up. Most of the vehicles have a metal bar inside the hood.

Step 3: Find The Transmission Fluid Pipe

Once you have opened and lifted the hood, finding the transmission fluid pipe is the next step. However, it will be difficult to find if you don’t know it’s location. Therefore, you should take a minute or two and search for it. Additionally, you can read the owner’s manual to find the pipe effortlessly.

Step 4: Take Out The Dipstick

The next step is to take out the dipstick. Get a paper towel ready before you pull out the dipstick. Pull out the dipstick and wipe it off before reinserting. However, it will be challenging to determine the fluid level if there is fluid on the dipstick.

Step 5: Measuring the Transmission Fluid

After cleaning the dipstick, reinsert it all the way and pull it out to get accurate results. In most instances, there are two lines on the dipstick. It can either be “cold” and “hot” or “add” and “full.”

If the fluid level stops between the “full” and “add” or “hot” and “cold,” that means there is enough transmission fluid. But if the fluid level stops below the “add” or “cold” marking, then the transmission fluid is low.

How To Add Transmission Fluid to a Car?

Now, you have realized that your car is running out of transmission fluid. Therefore, you will have to add more fluid. If your car has an automatic transmission system, then it will be an easy task. But there’s nothing to worry about. It will take a little extra effort for the manual transmission system.

Things You Need

  • Transmission Fluid
  • Paper Towels/Rags
  • Funnel

Step 1: Use The Best Transmission Fluid For Your Car

Before adding or changing the transmission fluid, you must know about the fluids. You will have to determine which fluid will be appropriate for your vehicle. The manual owner guide will help you with this. If you can’t do it yourself, you can consult your mechanic only to know about the right fluid.

Selecting Fluid Using the Dipstick

You can also get an idea of what type of fluid you need from the dipstick. It can be indicated on the dipstick, or you can look at the fluid which is currently on your vehicle. It is also essential for you to determine how often you need to change the fluid.

Most of the vehicle owners want to change the fluid only when the level of the fluid is low. But changing the fluid after a specific distance is suitable for your engine. For almost all the vehicles, the distance is between 30,000 and 100,000 miles.

Step 2: Pour In The Transmission Fluid

If you have determined the right fluid, then the next step is to pour it. A longer funnel would be better because it is required for most of the vehicles. Insert the funnel into the transmission fluid pipe. Now, start pouring the fluid into that pipe.

Check for the fluid level while you’re pouring the fluid. Because you only need to add as much as it requires. As you know that the fluid level is okay when it is between the two-line.

Keep the Engine Running

It is very important to keep the engine running and going through all the gears. This will ensure that you can add an exact amount of fluid. For most of the vehicles, it will take 4 and 12 quarts to fill it back if the fluid is completely drained.

Check Leaks in the Fluid Pipes

Don’t forget to check for leaks in the fluid pipe. Sometimes it happens that your car is running out of transmission fluid just because of the leakage of the pipe.

Step 3: Circulation Of The Fluid Throughout The Transmission System

After adding the fluid successfully, you must check for leaks in the pipe. Once you have done that, the next step is to circulate the fluid throughout the system. This will ensure that the fluid has reached all the important parts of the transmission.

Make sure that the engine is running while doing it. Press the clutch and the brake using your foot and then go through all the gears of the transmission system.

Step 4: Pull Out The Dipstick Again

The final step is to recheck the dipstick to assure that the transmission system has enough fluid in it. It is possible that the fluid level has gone below the two lines because of changing the gears. Check the dipstick again, just like before. Add more fluid if the level has gone below the lines.

What Are Some Indications Of Low Transmission Fluid?

Many people are out there who own a vehicle but don’t know how to change the transmission fluid. However, every vehicle owner must change or add the transmission fluid after a period of time. Sometimes, the transmission fluid can become low because of a leakage. Therefore, it is important to know about the signs of low transmission fluid.

There are various different symptoms that will indicate that your vehicle is running out of transmission fluid.

1. Transmission System Overheating

Transmission fluid not only transfers power from the engine to wheels, but it also keeps the system cool. Thus, low transmission fluid will lead to more friction, which will produce an excessive amount of heat. If the transmission system gets overheated, then it will not work properly. So, if you’re experiencing that, your transmission system is overheated, and it needs to be checked properly.

2. Slippage Of The Gears

If the gears slip while changing it, then it is a sign of low transmission fluid. This only happens with manual transmission systems. The gears will not remain in the position which you choose because of low fluid.

It is also possible that the fluid level is okay, and the gear is still slipping. Maybe there is a residue buildup that is preventing it from flowing freely. It will be better to consult your mechanic in such a case.

3. Slow Gear Engagement

If the transmission system of your vehicle has sufficient fluid, then your gearbox will work smoothly. There will be no delays in gear engagement. If you are assuming that gear engagement is taking longer than usual, then it’s because of low fluid in the transmission system.

There will be less pressure if the fluid is low, which will slow down the change of gears. It will take more than 3 seconds, which is an indication of insufficient transmission fluid.

4. Unstable Gear Shifts

If your gear shift is resulting too late or too early, then you must check your transmission fluid level. A transmission system has hydraulic pressure, which requires smooth performance from the transmission.

Insufficient transmission fluid will cause disruption of the transmission system. Therefore, this is another symptom of insufficient transmission fluid.

5. Difficulty In Gear Shifting

Some of the symptoms which are mentioned above cannot be experienced with automatic transmission systems. It doesn’t matter whether you’re driving a  vehicle without an automatic transmission system or not.

Insufficient transmission fluid will cause a slow response from the transmission system. Hence, it can be another good indication that you need to add more fluid in your transmission system.


Now you know that the role of transmission fluid is significant for the components of the transmission. It makes sure that you can ride your vehicle smoothly without having any trouble with the transmission system.

It is possible that you own a vehicle and don’t know how to change the transmission fluid. Every vehicle owner must know this basic thing. Otherwise, it will be a waste of money to hire a professional mechanic for this simple task. As you have already learned that changing or adding the transmission fluid is quite straightforward.

You just need to understand three simple steps- choosing the fluid appropriately, determining the fluid level, and ultimately pouring it into the tube. You also need to have complete knowledge of the signs of insufficient transmission fluid to keep your car running smoothly.