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Checking transmission fluid on a Toyota on Long Island, NY.

Is Your Transmission Fluid Low? Here's How to Check

Posted at Fri, Jul 22, 2022 9:00 AM

For anybody driving with an automatic transmission (which is most of us), the act of shifting gears is typically a smooth and easy process. However, if the process of shifting gears becomes noticeably different than what it was before, you might have a problem on your hands. If you are experiencing the engine stalling or sputtering when you are shifting from one gear to another, it could be a mechanical problem. There is no need to panic, however, as the issue could actually be low transmission fluid. Before you book your Toyota in for service, all you need to do is a quick and easy maintenance task to see if you actually need the attention of a mechanic or if you can fix it on your own.

Just Where Is the Dipstick for the Transmission Fluid

Even if you have no idea where to find the transmission fluid dipstick, it is usually pretty easy to find! What you are looking for will look very similar to the oil dipstick, but it will be a different color so that you can easily tell the two apart. Just where the transmission fluid dipstick is can vary depending on the kind of vehicle you are driving. In vehicles with rear-wheel-drive (RWD), it is typically located near the back of the engine, whereas in vehicles with front-wheel drive (FWD), it is usually attached to the transaxle (near the front of the engine). Some owner’s manuals may also indicate the location of the dipsticks.

How to Check the Transmission Fluid

Once the transmission fluid dipstick has been located, you can proceed to check the level of the transmission fluid by following these four easy steps:

  • Make sure that your Toyota is in either neutral or park, and for additional safety you should ensure that the parking brake is on. Start the engine and let it run for a minute or two before you actually check the fluid levels, as you want the engine to be warm.
  • Pull out the transmission fluid dipstick and stick your index finger into the fluid that is coating the dipstick. Rub the fluid between your fingers. What you want to see is that the liquid is mostly clear with a pink or red tint. You should also take note of what you smell – if the fluid smells burnt, it is a sign that the fluid needs to be changed as soon as possible. The same applies if there are obvious particles in the fluid.
  • Using a rag that is clean and without lint, wipe the dipstick clean completely, stick it back in, and then pull it back out again to re-check the transmission fluid level. If that pinkish or reddish fluid is not quite reaching the “full” indicator on the dipstick, use a funnel to carefully add more transmission fluid into the reservoir. You should never overfill the reservoir, only add the amount that is needed to reach “full.”
  • Return the transmission fluid dipstick to its proper place, ensuring it is inserted completely and firmly.

It is important to note that if you need to add more transmission fluid, there are many different types out there to choose from. To make sure your Toyota will be operating at optimal levels, always use the type of transmission fluid that is recommended in the Toyota Owner’s Manual.

If you are uncomfortable with topping up the fluid levels on your own, be sure to book your vehicle in as soon as possible, as going with low levels of transmission fluid for too long can lead to unnecessary damage to your transmission.

Keep Your Transmission Shifting Smoothly

The transmission is such an integral part of your vehicle that it is crucial to ensure the fluid is always topped off, otherwise you could experience inconvenient and costly issues later on down the road. If you suspect your Toyota’s transmission fluid needs to be topped off or replaced, call us here at Westbury Toyota to book an appointment. We will take care of the issue and have you back out driving in no time.

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