2020 BMW 8 Series M850i xDrive Coupe

How To Check Your Transmission Fluid

The auto industry is changing. We can all see that with advertisements for electric vehicles and new safety technology. But what you might not know is that the components under the hood of a vehicle have also been evolving for years already – and that includes the transmission and whether we can (or can’t) check transmission fluid levels.

Up until recently, dipsticks were included in each vehicle so that you could check transmission fluid level yourself. Vehicles manufactured within the past decade, however, have gradually shifted away from this and no longer come with a dipstick. Rather, they have what’s called a sealed transmission. And while newer vehicles no longer allow you to do this easily, we still get the question, “How can I check my transmission fluid?” So as we just explained, the answer depends on how old your vehicle is. If you have an older vehicle with a dipstick, follow the instructions below. If you have a newer vehicle without a dipstick, you need to have your vehicle professionally serviced. Read on to learn more from the team at Rusnak BMW.


Can You Check the Fluid in a Sealed Transmission?

Don’t see a dipstick under the hood? Chances are your car is equipped with a sealed transmission. So, what is a sealed transmission? Sealed doesn’t mean “can’t be accessed” — it simply means there’s no dipstick with which you can measure the transmission fluid level. If this is the case, do not attempt to check its fluid level; you may cause damage. Our service team will gladly check the transmission fluid level when you bring your car in for service.

When to Check the Fluid in a Sealed Transmission

The main purpose of a sealed transmission is to limit the amount of wasted transmission fluid, saving you money in the long run. Even so, there could still be some issues in the future and the fluid will need to be replaced. Keep an eye out for the following red flags, which indicate a problem with your sealed transmission:

  • You can hear strange noises when the gears change.
  • The gears hesitate before changing.
  • During acceleration, there’s a noticeable delay when the gears shift.

Checking the Fluid with a Dipstick

If you do have an older vehicle with a dipstick, then checking your transmission fluid on a regular basis can help you prevent maintenance issues in your vehicle.

Checking Transmission Fluid: Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Before getting started, be sure to warm up the engine for a few minutes before you check the level. Make sure your car is in park before getting out and opening the hood.
  2. Find the transmission fluid dipstick. On front-wheel-drive cars, it’s usually located to the right of the oil dipstick. Check your owner’s manual if you’re having trouble finding it – you may be driving a vehicle with a sealed transmission!
  3. Remove the dipstick and touch the fluid, moving it around between your thumb and forefinger. The fluid should be nearly clear, with a pink hue. If it looks dirty or gives off a burnt smell, take your vehicle to a service center for replacement.
  4. Use a rag to wipe off the dipstick. Then insert it back into the vehicle. Pull it out again and check the level. If it’s under the “Full” marking, you’ll need to add more transmission fluid.
  5. Use a funnel to bring the fluid level up to the right spot. Be sure not to overfill it.

If there are any issues or you would like some assistance to ensure you’re doing this correctly, contact our service team.

Additional Transmission Fluid Basics

It is very important to understand what’s best when it comes to your vehicle’s transmission needs. After all, the transmission is what propels the vehicle forward. Be sure to read your owner’s manual for the following information before you begin any work on your vehicle:

  • Different types of transmissions require different types of transmission fluids. Using the incorrect one can lead to problems. Your owner’s manual will recommend a particular type of transmission fluid.
  • Regardless of which type of transmission your vehicle has, you’re going to need a jack to access the underside of your vehicle. Unless you have experience with auto repair, we recommend you bring your vehicle into our service center near Los Angeles for prompt and safe service.
  • So, how often do you check your transmission fluid? Service intervals for transmission maintenance varies depending on the type of transmission your vehicle has, your driving habits, and other factors. It’s generally recommended that you check main fluid levels (including transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and engine oil) in your vehicle monthly. Check your owner’s manual, however, for information specific to your vehicle, or call our service center to schedule an appointment.

Rely on Rusnak BMW for All Your Service Needs

If you have any questions about this service, or you want to learn more service tips from our dealership near Westlake Village, contact our team! We look forward to helping you keep your vehicle running smoothly for less with our available service specials.

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