What Are Some Signs of Low Transmission Fluid?

Some signs of low transmission fluid are slipping or jerking motions as the gears shift, dragging of the vehicle as it picks up speed and increase in the temperature of the transmission.

Transmission fluid lubricates, cools and powers a vehicle’s transmission. In time, wear and tear can cause the seals, gaskets and valves of the transmission to leak resulting in low levels of transmission fluid. Any faulty parts should be replaced as these leaks are identified. Fluid levels should be regularly checked and maintained according to vehicle specifications to ensure the transmission continues to operate properly.

Unless experienced in working on vehicles, it’s best to leave even the simple task of checking fluid levels to professionals. In most cases, it’s easier to check the levels on automatic vehicles rather than manual ones. Generally speaking, if the vehicle isn’t running as well as it normally does, it can indicate low transmission fluid, especially when it comes to problems with shifting.

Common Signs of Low Transmission Fluid Low transmission fluid levels are the most common problem associated with transmissions. Failure of the transmission to engage can indicate an issue. The vehicle may refuse to go into gear, and it’s possible to smell burning transmission oil and strange bumping noises when it’s in neutral. Check the vehicle’s parked area too for leaking transmission fluid, which is a sign to check the fluid levels. It should be a red color, rather than a dark color. It should also smell sweet. In some vehicles, the check engine light will come on to warn drivers of an issue with the transmission.

Types of Transmission Fluid Automatic transmission vehicles use a fluid that’s also a coolant, called automatic transmission fluid. Manual transmission vehicles use motor oil, hypoid gear oil or automatic transmission fluid. It all depends on the make and model of the vehicle.

Changing Transmission Fluid The average period of time between changing transmission fluid is 30,000 to 100,000 miles for both automatic and manual vehicles. Typically, manual vehicles need transmission fluid changes more often than automatic vehicles. Although there are transmission fluids available for sale that are marketed toward all types of vehicles, it’s suggested to use the fluid type that’s recommended by the manufacturer for the best results.

Long-Term Consequences Skipping the recommended transmission fluid change can have detrimental effects on the vehicle’s transmission. For both manual and automatic vehicles, fluid contamination can mean metals are moving around the vehicle inside the transmission fluid. This can break a transmission or lessen its lifespan.

When a vehicle is experiencing any of the common signs of low transmission fluid, the problems shouldn’t be ignored. The longer the owner goes without fixing the problem, the greater the issue becomes and likely, the higher the future mechanic bill. As it is with someone’s health, it’s best to conduct preventative care for the vehicle, rather than waiting for a problem to arise before addressing it. By taking it in for service whenever necessary, a better, safer drive and a longer lifespan for the vehicle is virtually assured.