How to Check the Manual Transmission Fluid

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In order to check manual transmission fluid, the vehicle will have to be raised on a lift or jack stands to gain access to the fill plug. Find out how to check levels of manual transmission fluid with help from an ASE-certified master automobile technician in this free video on manual transmission fluid.

Part of the Video Series: Auto Repair & Maintenance
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Video Transcript

Today we're going to talk about the procedures for checking the fluid on a manual transmission. Unlike an automatic transmission which typically is checked with a dipstick from under the hood, manual transmissions are normally not quite that convenient. In order to check manual transmission fluid normally what you will have to do is to pick the vehicle up, either raise it on a lift, or jack it up on jack stands while maintaining the vehicle level, to gain access to the fill plug. We have a transmission actually removed from the vehicle for the ease of demonstration purposes. And this is a typical transmission that you might find in a rear wheel drive car. And this is the part that attaches to the engine. And the drive shaft goes out at the back end. Here, we have the transmission fill plug. And I recommend that before you start turning any fasteners on a manual transmission that you actually check the service manual to be sure that you've got the correct ones. If you were to pull a bolt out of a manual transmission it's possible that the parts on the inside, if it is not actually the fill plug, could fall out and require disassembly of the entire transmission to actually return it to operating conditions. In this case what we need to do in order to check the fluid level is get the proper tool to remove whatever kind of a fastener we have. This one is a 17 millimeter plug and what we'll do is remove the plug so that we can see what's happening inside. Manual transmissions, like all things that have moving parts, need to be lubricated. And what they actually do is they fill the entire insides up to a certain level. And it's typically the level of the fill plug itself. So what they do is they'll have you remove the plug and inspect to see if there is fluid inside at the level of the plug. And you can either look through the hole to see if you have fluid. Or, either using your finger or a screwdriver actually reach through and dip in and pull it back out and see if you have fluid on the screwdriver itself. If the level is too low then you need to add fluid to it in order to refill it to the proper level.

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