Automatic transmission fluid serves multiple functions. It provides lubrication, keeps seals soft, protects internal parts and acts as a coolant for your transmission.
Checking Automatic Transmission Fluid
- On recent model vehicles, automatic transmissions should be checked while the engine is running.
- Make sure the vehicle is on a level surface with the emergency brake applied, and the transmission is in park or neutral. (Check your owner’s manual for information on whether your vehicle should be in park or neutral when checking the transmission fluid.)
- Raise the hood and locate your transmission’s dipstick, making sure to avoid any hot or moving parts of the engine. (Check your owner’s manual for information on locating the transmission’s dipstick.)
- After locating the dipstick, remove it, wipe off the fluid, and re-insert it. Remove the dipstick again to check the fluid level. The level should be within the “Full” range.
What Should My Automatic Transmission Fluid Look Like?
- Clean automatic transmission fluid should have a pink tint.
- Amber to brown fluid is a sign that the fluid may need to be changed.
- Brown or black, burnt-smelling fluid is a sign of internal failure or lack of proper maintenance. If your fluid shows these signs, consult a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility for the proper diagnosis.
Transmission and Differential Fluid
On most models, finding an accessible way to check the manual transmission and differential fluid level is very difficult. It is recommended that service and inspection of these fluids be performed by a qualified technician. Refer to your owner’s manual for specific service information.