A Few Basic Notes on Automatic Transmission Maintenance
There is a surprising variety of fluids that go into the running and maintenance of a car – there’s the gas, the engine oil, all the different lubricants, and of course, there’s a fluid that most of us never think about – the transmission fluid. A good part of your automatic transmission maintenance regimen comes down to taking care that your transmission fluid levels are good.
Now we all know about checking our engine oil level – it’s easy because there’s probably a gauge right there on your dashboard. Or barring that, there is a dipstick under the hood. Evaluating how great your automatic transmission fluid level is doesn’t have to be a lot more complicated.
Many cars don’t come with a dipstick to check those fluid levels with. You just have to make sure that the service station does the job when you take the car in. But if your car does come with one of these, that makes your automatic transmission maintenance routine very easy. They usually label these dipsticks ATF or Trans. Or else, they come color-coded red. Engine oil dipsticks are usually color-coded yellow. If there is no color coding and there’s no writing on those dipsticks either, you’ll know by where the dipsticks are.
If you see a dipstick that’s near the front and center of your engine, that’s for your engine oil. The transmission dipstick on the other hand will be on one side of your engine, towards the rear. If you’re not sure, all you need to do is to take the dipstick out and look at the color the oil is. Engine oil is brown or Golden. Transmission fluid is usually a reddish color.
Once you’ve determined which dipstick you need to look at, before you actually check anything, make sure of two things – that your cars been active enough over the past hour that transmission fluid has been churning around and squeezed into all the chambers. And of course, you want to make sure that you car’s actually on level ground. If you live in San Francisco and your car’ parked on a steep slope, that wouldn’t be the right place to check.
So what you need to do is, you need to try to take the car around for 5 min. to make sure that it’s warmed up, you need to park your car on level ground and then you’ll be ready. Make sure that the blue engine light is no longer lit up, leave your engine running, and go to your dipstick.
Take the dipstick out, wipe it on a rag to make sure that no splashed transmission fluid gives you a higher-than-normal reading, get the stick all the way in and take it out. If the level is close to full, you’ll know. There isn’t much more to automatic transmission maintenance than this.