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Video:How to Check Transmission Fluid Levels

with Matt Ediger

It's important to routinely check the transmission fluid levels in your car, but don't worry if you don't know how. Here are instructions for how to check transmission fluid levels in your car.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Check Transmission Fluid Levels

Hi, I'm Matt Ediger from Downforce Motoring for About.com, and this is how to check your car's automatic transmission fluid. 90% of cars on the road are equipped with an automatic transmission, which means you probably have one or two sitting in your driveway right now. If you would like to extend the life of your car, then routinely checking the level of your transmission fluid is a sound idea. The best part is that it's simple and easy to do.

Reasons to Check Transmission Fluid

But before we get into the actual procedure, we should mention why it's so important. To do this, we'll have to talk about what transmission fluid does in the first place. Inside your transmission may seem like the realm of wizards and magic, but in fact, it's really a complicated set of gears and clutches. What the fluid does is allow the gears and clutches to be lubricated and reduces the heat created, just like engine oil. But before you think about adding 10w30 into your transmission, realize that automatic transmission fluid, or ATF, is much different than your standard engine oil, so don't put it in your transmission and don't put ATF in your engine.

Checking the Transmission Fluid Level

Now that we've touched on what ATF does, we can get on to checking our car's transmission fluid. Usually, there will be a dipstick located toward the rear of the engine near the firewall. If you're lucky, it will be labeled "Transmission". Once you've located the dipstick, pull it out and, with a rag, wipe it off and put it back in. Then, immediately pull it back out and check the level. There should be a marked area that shows you if there is enough fluid to properly lubricate the transmission. The color is important, too. ATF is a cherry red, and if yours is dark red or brown, you should have your fluid changed out. You can smell it as well, and if it smells burned, then this also means you should schedule a transmission service. What is a transmission service, you say? Well, any competent shop will drain your transmission fluid, and change the transmission fluid filter before adding in fresh fluid. These are usually quite reasonably priced and only take about an hour, which is better than having your car out for a week to install a very expensive new transmission.

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