How To Properly Add Fluid to an Automatic Transmission Car

One day it might happen that instead of starting smoothly like it usually does, your automatic car might just hesitate, … Continued

One day it might happen that instead of starting smoothly like it usually does, your automatic car might just hesitate, especially while shifting gears. The first thought that could come to your mind would pertain to something being wrong with the transmission system of your car. However, before stepping on the panic button and calling the mechanic, what you could do is check the level of transmission fluid.

Unless your vehicle relies on electricity for running, it is likely to use some variant of transmission fluid, which needs to be replaced once in a blue moon. Automatic transmission has been known to operate smoothly for thousands of miles, which is why it is usually taken for granted by car owners. However, given its limited lifespan, it runs out one day and the resultant friction in the system hinders with the smooth functioning of the car.   

The process of adding fluid to your automatic transmission car is comprised of two stages, which are outlined as follows.

adding car oil

Stage 1 – Checking the Level of Fluid in the Car

Before adding fluid, it is imperative to check the existing level of fluid in the car and to do so you need gloves and a towel/rag. Then follow these steps:

  • Park your car on a level surface and ensure that the gear is in ‘Park/Neutral’ mode, leaving the engine to idle since it needs to be running for you to check the fluid level.  
  • Pop open the hood by operating a switch and keep it raised at a comfortable height.
  • Locate the pipe which contains the transmission fluid and find the dipstick with the help of a manual.
  • In most automatic transmission vehicles, the dipstick comes with a handle, which can be used to extract it from the pipe. A rule of thumb in this regard says that dipstick in a front-wheel drive is usually placed in the front portion of the engine and in a rear-wheel drive it is placed towards the back of the engine.
  • Since the dipstick is likely to be smeared with fluid, you must have a towel or a rag ready at hand to wipe it immediately after having pulled it out.
  • Markings on the dipstick either read Hot/Cold or Full/Add and ideally fluid in the automatic transmission car should be between these levels. If the level is lower than these markings, it is an indication that a refill is in order.

At this stage you must make it a point to check the color and condition of the fluid. It should ideally be clear and pink, but sometimes it does turn out to be burnt, milky or smelly. These are signs of contamination and repairs and should be referred to a professional mechanic. Likewise, there might be air bubbles also, which implies the presence of too much fluid or the wrong variant being used.  

Step 2 – Adding Fluid in the Automatic Transmission Car

To add fluid in the automatic transmission car, you must equip yourself with a funnel and a can of fluid. Next, following are the steps that you need to follow:

  • Identify the type of transmission fluid that would be right for your vehicle. Variant of fluid to be added is determined by types of transmission, gear and make of the car and is critical owing to the fact that the wrong type could cause severe damage to the system.
  • Insert the funnel into the tube which is meant to house the dipstick and add the transmission fluid in small quantities.
  • Having added a certain amount, check the level of fluid before adding any more so as to conform to the levels recommended in the manual.
  • Run the car through each of the gears all the way from first to drive, overdrive and reverse and stop at ‘park’ once again. Let the engine idle for some time as this would serve to warm up the fluid and ensure its circulation throughout the system.
  • Once again insert the dipstick to check the current level of fluid and add more if required. This is also the stage that will enable you to determine if there is a leakage in the system because the level of fluid will have fallen drastically.

Related Post: The Effects and Signs of Too Much Transmission Fluid

adding car oil

Final Thoughts

Hesitation of the vehicle while starting is a symptom that could either mean a faulty transmission or low level of fluid in the system. Therefore, it is advisable to first check the level of fluid in the automatic transmission car rather than assume that the system might have broken down and incur the cost of replacement.

Related Post: Transmission Fluid Change Cost

Sources:

  1. HOW TO CHECK AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION FLUID – dummies
  2. How to Check and Add Fluid to an Automatic Transmission Car – Your Mechanic