How to Check Automatic Transmission Fluid


Checking your car's automatic transmission fluid (ATF) every month and whenever the transmission isn't shifting smoothly is necessary to optimize performance of many components of your vehicle. In addition to following these steps, consult your owner's manual which will give you the intervals in which the fluid should be changed.

Moderately Easy


Things You'll Need

  • Automatic Transmission Fluid
  • Car Jacks
  • Car Manuals
  • Rags
  • Wrenches
    • 1

      Park your car on level ground and start the engine, leaving the gear in neutral or park. Wait for the engine to warm up. Unless your owner's manual directs otherwise, allow the engine to continue running throughout this procedure.

    • 2

      Find the ATF dipstick, located at the back of the engine. The ATF dipstick is often shorter than the engine oil dipstick but otherwise looks similar. If you're lucky, it will be labeled.

    • 3

      Pull on the dipstick and completely remove it. It may be very long.

    • 4

      Wipe the dipstick with a rag, replace it in the engine, push it all the way in and remove it again.

    • 5

      Look at the dipstick's tip. Observe whether there are two different full markings: one for cold readings and one for warm readings. If so, read the one for 'Warm.' If the ATF does not come up to the line marked 'Full,' add ATF.

    • 6

      Add ATF (see Tips) into the hole that the dipstick came out of (yes, that little tiny hole). Use a funnel with a long, narrow neck. Add only a little at a time, and check the level with the dipstick after each time. It's easy to add ATF but fairly difficult to take it out if you add too much.

    • 7

      Put the dipstick all the way back in when you are done.

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