Checking Car Auto Transmission Fluid

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Check the car's automatic transmission fluid level using the transmission dip stick near the car engine; learn how from our expert mechanic in this free car-maintenance video.

Part of the Video Series: Basic Car Care & Maintenance
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Video Transcript

Hi this is Jeff Wong with Expert Village and today we're going to learn the basics of maintaining your vehicle. Your automatic transmission fluid, so in your engine bay you want to look for a dipstick handle similar to the one you used for checking your oil. Which it may be located somewhere low or behind the engine. It shouldn't be under anything, so look around for it. In this car it happens to be in the front towards the bottom. If you pull it out just like a dipstick, you have a short little dipstick in this vehicle or it may be a longer one. So in some vehicles especially in older vehicles the engine actually has to be running when you check this fluid level. So, in this newer vehicle it doesn't appear that we have to have the engine running. You can check your cars manual to double check and see what your car requires. So, to check your fluid hold the dipstick out and wipe it clean again. Put the dipstick all the way back into its hole, pull it out and check the level of the fluid. You can see on this dipstick that there are hash marks where the fluid level should be and the fluid level is exactly at full where it should be. On some vehicles you may have to check the automatic transmission fluid while the engine is running. Be sure to take caution because you will have belts and possibly fans that are spinning, so watch where you place your hands. But when you are filling the fluid you want to make sure that the engine is off. So if the fill hole is difficult to reach, you may need a special funnel with a long extension tube to fill the fluid. Now when shopping for fluid you want to look for automatic transmission fluid, sometimes called ATF and a lot of these fluids are specific to certain types of vehicles whether to your make or model. If you're unsure about which kind to get, you can ask your local auto shop assistant or you can consult your owner's manual for further instructions. You should be noted that when you're filling your automatic transmission fluid unlike your oil, that the fluid actually goes into the same hole that you pulled the dipstick out of. So you can take the end of your extended funnel and put it into that hole when filling the fluid. Take caution when filling it not to over fill the fluid. So pour a little bit and then check the fluid. Manual transmission cars don't use automatic transmission fluid instead they use gear oil. The process it takes to change gear oil or to check is relatively involved, so I recommend taking it in to a certified mechanic.

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