(Updated on April 17, 2020)
Transmission fluid is like the lubricating oil of the transmission system of a vehicle. It is not actually called oil, but it is an oily substance which lubricates the transmission’s components. The type of vehicle you’re driving will determine which type of transmission fluid you use in the transmission. The other determining factor is whether your vehicle’s transmission is automatic or manual. The manufacturer’s guide of your vehicle should specify the type of transmission fluid you need to use. So, you won’t need to do any guessing there.
Most people may elect to have their transmission fluid changed or added by a professional auto mechanic. However, this will likely cost you hundreds of dollars in additional maintenance expenses. It is possible for a layperson to change their own transmission fluid without incurring all these costs. They just need to learn the steps of how to change the transmission fluid properly.
Steps to Adding Transmission Fluid
1) The first step is to check how much transmission fluid is in your transmission. You need to start your engine and keep it running to do this. This will ensure that you can accurately measure the fluid level. Just set the vehicle to park and the emergency handbrake in the upward position. Sometimes the gear may need to be in neutral, depending on what the owner’s manual tells you to do. The ground surface below should be flat and leveled as well.
2) Lift open the hood and secure the lifting bar to keep the hood open. Find the transmission fluid pipe and the transmission dipstick. If you have trouble finding these things, let the owner’s manual guide you. The dipstick goes inside of the pipe. When you take it out, see where the level of the fluid stopped. If it stopped between the “Full” and “Add” markings, then it is okay. But if it is lower than the “Add” marking, then it means you need to add transmission fluid.
3) Assuming you need to add fluid, you can move on to this step. The two things you’re going to need are the transmission fluid and a funnel. The fluid should come in a can if you purchase it directly from the auto shop. Again, be sure to choose the right type of fluid which is compatible with your vehicle’s transmission.
4) When you have these accessories, you can begin adding the fluid to the transmission. This can be done by placing the funnel into the transmission fluid pipe and then gently pouring the transmission fluid into it. Only put a little bit of fluid in there at a time because you don’t want to overfill it. Keep checking the fluid level with your dipstick in between your pouring intervals. Stop before the fluid level gets to the “Full” marking.
5) Take out the funnel. Start cycling through the different gears of the transmission while the engine continues to run. This means shifting to first gear, second gear, driving gear, neutral gear and then finally stopping at the parking gear. Continue to let the engine run idle so that the new fluid can warm up and circulate throughout the transmission.
6) Check the fluid level one more time with the dip stick. If the level is still normal, then you are done adding the transmission fluid. But if the fluid has decreased, then it means you have a leak somewhere in the transmission system. The best thing to do is identify where the leak is coming from and then fix the leak. After that, you can try adding the transmission fluid again following the same process that is outlined here.