How to Check Transmission Fluid on a 1997 Ford Mustang 3.8L

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Ford launched its highly popular Mustang midway through the 1964 model year. The Mustang's seventh generation -- 1994 through 1998 -- is when Ford abandoned the square looking Mustang in favor of the rounder, more aerodynamic body. The 1997 Mustang came standard with a five-speed manual transmission and had an optional four-speed automatic transmission available. You can check the fluid level in the automatic transmission from the engine compartment, but you must crawl beneath the manual transmission to check its fluid level.

Things You'll Need

  • Clean, lint-free cloth
  • Mercon transmission fluid (amount varies)
  • 3/8-inch ratchet
  • 3/8-inch drive extension, 6-inches long
  • Flex-neck funnel
  • 3/8-inch torque wrench

Checking the Automatic Transmission Fluid

  • Drive the Mustang until it reaches operating temperature -- around the halfway point on the temperature gauge. Park the vehicle on a flat surface and hold the brake pedal while you shift the gear shifter into each gear. Place the gear shifter into "Park" and open the hood.

  • Pull the transmission dipstick -- located on the rear, passenger's side of the engine compartment -- from its tube and wipe it off with a clean, lint-free cloth.

  • Reinsert the dipstick into its tube and pull it out again. Check that the level is within the upper notch on the dipstick. If the fluid level is below the upper notch, insert a funnel in the dipstick tube and pour in Mercon transmission fluid at quarter-quart increments. Check the transmission fluid every quarter-quart.

  • Reinsert the transmission dipstick and close the Mustang's hood. Shut the engine down.

Checking the Manual Transmission Fluid

  • Drive the Mustang until it reaches operating temperature -- about halfway up the temperature gauge. Park the Mustang on a flat surface and set the parking brake.

  • Raise the front of the Mustang off the ground, using a floor jack. Slide jack stands under the Mustang's frame rails and lower the vehicle onto the jack stands.

  • Slide under the Mustang until you reach the transmission -- directly behind the engine. Find the transmission check and fill plug located about halfway up the driver's side of the transmission. Position a drain pan under the check and fill plug.

  • Remove the check and fill plug using a 3/8-inch ratchet and 6-inch-long, 3/8-inch drive extension. Insert your finger and feel for the transmission fluid -- the correct level is at the base of the check and fill hole.

  • Insert a flex-neck funnel into the check and fill plug, if the transmission fluid is low, and pour Mercon transmission fluid into the transmission until fluid drips from the check and fill hole.

  • Remove the funnel from the check and fill hole. Wipe the check and fill plug off with a clean, lint-free cloth. Hand-tighten the check and fill plug into the transmission. Tighten the check and fill plug to 8 to 18 foot-pounds with a 3/8-inch drive torque wrench and a 6-inch-long, 3/8-inch drive extension.

  • Raise the Mustang off the jack stands, using a floor jack, and remove the jack stands. Lower the Mustang to the ground.

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