Car automatic transmission fluid needs to be checked when the engine is warmed up. Check transmission fluid with tips from an automotive service excellence (ASE)-certified master auto technician in this free video on automotive maintenance.
My name is Dave Erb from Dave's Ultimate Automotive in Austin Texas. And we're going to talk about checking your transmission fluid, your automatic transmission fluid. First thing you need to know is that a lot of manufacturers use the same type of transmission fluid. Very common across the industry. But there are very few that use very specific transmission fluids. So the first thing you want to do is identify what type of transmission fluid you have in case need to add some. You don't want to add just a generic brand that can do damage to the transmission. Most of the time it's marked on top of the stick. In this case it is Mercon 5. Which is specific to Ford. A lot of manufacturers name their transmission fluid one thing, and it really is the same as everybody else's. So you need to make sure that you check and to see if it specific for that vehicle before you add any. The second thing you want to do is understand that this is checked warm or hot. Because transmission fluid does expand a little bit, so you want to get an accurate reading when it's warmed up. So go ahead and warm the vehicle up before you check this. You want to check it on level ground. And you want to check it running in park. So look around and make sure there's nothing you're going to get your hands into, or your clothing into when you lean over while the vehicle is running. So then we want to go ahead and start the car up. Okay. And I'm going to go ahead an pull the dip stick out and clean it off. Put the dip stick back in. Make sure it sinks all the way back in. And then pull it back out again, keeping it straight down so that the fluid doesn't run up the stick. And what you're looking for is to be between the minimum and maximum level. Which is in this grid right here. Most dip sticks will have a grid like this on it. You want to look for color. Most transmission fluid is almost a pinkish clear color. Once it starts to become brown or dark, that's an indication the fluids life has been used up. And that's when transmission problems can start. Average life expectancy of transmission fluid is about thirty thousand miles before you should have it changed. You want to change your fluids while they are still useful. Not when their useful life has ended. So that looks fine. And then just put the dip stick back in. And of course if you have to add any, you would just get a funnel and put it in the dip stick tube that the dip stick came out of. And add maybe half quart at a time. Let it sit for a little bit, make sure that fluid gets down off the tube. So you don't get an inaccurate reading. And then go through the same procedure again until you get it within the cross hatches. Transmission fluid is not something you would normally burn or loose. So if you are low, or getting low, I would suspect a leak somewhere. And I would look for that.