If you notice that your vehicle is slipping between gears or you are having trouble switching from one gear to the next, the issue most likely lies in your transmission fluid. Your transmission fluid is responsible for ensuring that your gears shift smoothly from one to the next and that your vehicle stays in the correct gear. When your transmission fluid gets low or when it becomes contaminated, these issues can develop. Your transmission fluid can get contaminated with particles through normal wear and tear.
Locating Transmission Fluid Location
The first thing that you need to do in order to check your transmission fluid is to know where to look in the first place. You are going to need to pop open the hood of your vehicle after it has been sitting unused for many hours. Transmission fluid can get really hot, so it is best to check it when you have not been driving your vehicle.
There are a few different symbols used to signify the transmission fluid cap. It may be a circle that looks like gears are coming out of it, with a symbol that looks like a drop of water in the middle. Or it may be a circle gear symbol with what looks like a thermometer on the inside of the circle. Or it may be a circle gear symbol that looks like water is filling up the bottom of the inside of the circle.
Check your owner's manual to see what symbol should be on your transmission fluid cap and where the cap is located under the hood.
When removing the cap, you should wear gloves so that you don't get any fluid or dirt on your hands.
Inspect The Fluid
After you take the cap off, you are going to want to pull the dipstick out of your vehicle and observe it. You are going to need to pay attention to how the fluid smells, looks and feels.
The transmission fluid should not really have an odor to it; it is not completely odorless, but the odor is so minor that most people don't really even notice it. If when you pull out the transmission fluid and it has a burnt smell to it, that is a sign that the transmission fluid needs to be replaced because it is worn out and burned.
The transmission fluid generally has a very light color that is often described as clear with a very slight pink tint to it. It should be pretty translucent and light colored. If the fluid looks dark or is hard to see through, the fluid is old and needs to be replaced.
Finally, be sure to feel the fluid. When you touch it with your fingers, it should feel smooth. If you feel small particles in the fluid, that means that the fluid is contaminated.
Decide Next Steps
If the fluid smells burned, is dark colored, or has particles in it, you are going to want to have your transmission fluid flushed. When you have the fluid flushed, all old contaminated fluid is removed and new fluid is put through your system and is used to flush away all the dirty fluid out of your transmission. Finally, new fluid is put into your transmission. It is vital to do this if you spot any of the negative signs above because poor transmission fluid can wreak your transmission system.
If the fluid looks good, but the level was low, you can top off your transmission fluid yourself with the appropriate fluid. Use a funnel to pour the transmission fluid into the container until it reaches the fill line. For more information, contact an expert in transmission repair.