Transmission fluid is a liquid that lubricates the inner workings of your car’s manual or automatic transmission, reducing wear and tear on the moving parts and ensuring everything runs smoothly. It also acts as a coolant for these components. In an automatic transmission, it also provides the hydraulic pressure and friction necessary to make everything work. Because automatic and manual transmissions are different, each has its own type of transmission fluid.
How do I know if my transmission fluid is low?
Every vehicle has different requirements when it comes to changing the transmission fluid, but one thing is the same for all engines – low transmission fluid can cause damage. There are several warning signs that indicate your transmission fluid may be low or dirty.
Strange noises when changing gear: Gear changes should be smooth and quiet. If you hear grinding, clunking, humming or whining, it could indicate a problem with your transmission fluid.
Bad smells: If you can smell burning, it might be because your transmission has overheated due to lack of lubrication and too much friction.
Slipping gears: When you change gear, and the car either drops back to the previous gear or does not engage the new gear correctly, this is known as slipping. The car might feel slow to respond when you hit the gas, or the engine might rev when it shouldn’t. The car may also randomly change gear by itself.
Leaking: Another vital role of transmission fluid is to keep the transmission seals in good condition. If the seals perish, transmission fluid will leak out, resulting in patches of pink/red fluid on your garage floor or driveway.
Warning lights: Low transmission fluid can cause your engine warning light to activate.
Failure to address any of the above warning signs and continuing to drive with low or dirty transmission fluid could result in serious damage to your transmission or, in the worst case, total transmission failure.
Can I top up my transmission fluid?
Yes, it is possible to top up your transmission fluid yourself. However, if your remaining fluid is dirty, adding new fluid will not result in the ideal viscosity and may lead to ongoing damage. Ideally, you should have a transmission specialist fully flush and replace your transmission fluid at regular intervals, and especially if your car is exhibiting any of the above warning signs.
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