When it comes to car service and maintenance, most people don’t immediately think of their transmission. However, your transmission is similar to the rest of your engine in that it needs the right amount of certain fluids to run in a way that’s healthy and stable for your vehicle.
While you already know you need oil changes at regular intervals, your transmission is counting on you to check, assess, and sometimes replace its own fluid. Like with motor oil for different engines, different transmissions require different transmission fluids at various points in your car’s life cycle. This applies to both manual and automatic transmissions.
Change Vs Flush
First, you’ll want to understand the difference between a transmission fluid change, and a transmission flush. A fluid change occurs when a mechanic pumps out old transmission fluid while pumping in the new stuff. A transmission flush requires the complete removal of old fluid, exposure of solvents and other cleansing chemicals to the machine, and the replacement of new fluids.
Checking Newer Cars
Many newer engines are not built to enable regular car owners to check their own fluid; the container can only be accessed from beneath your vehicle and with the removal of certain components. If you drive a newer car, you’ll want to consult your owner’s manual regarding how often your transmission will likely require changes.
Checking Older Cars
On the other hand, many older engines feature a dipstick with which you can easily check your fluid levels and consistency. In these models, the steps to checking the transmission fluid are relatively simple:
- Make sure your engine is warmed up and running, and your car is in park
- Consult your owner’s manual to find the transmission fluid dipstick
- Remove the dipstick and put a little of the fluid found at the bottom between your thumb and index finger
- Rub your fingers together to examine the color and consistency of the fluid
- Wipe the dipstick clean, reinsert it, and remove it again.
- Check whether the fluid reaches above or below the ‘full’ line on the dipstick
- Reinsert the dipstick and close the hood securely
Once you’ve done this, you’ll know two key things. First, you’ll know what your current transmission fluid looks like. A healthy, safe fluid should be pinkish or almost clear in color and contain few to no visible particles. An old fluid in need of replacement will appear darker, burnt, full of particles, or may even give off a strong odor.
If you’ve discovered that your transmission fluid is too old, you will want to visit your service center to have a mechanic drain and replace the fluid. If your fluid is clear and newer but below the fill line, you can simply add more fluid as prescribed by your owner’s manual.
In addition to regular checks of your transmission fluid, you will want to consult your owner’s manual or mechanic regarding what mile intervals are best for your fluid changes and flushes. The industry standard for changes is around 24,000 miles or two years — whichever comes first.
Finally, do not hesitate to visit a service center if you are having trouble shifting, putting your engine in drive or park, or are hearing strange noises while doing so. These are often signs that you are in need of a transmission fluid change.
Montgomeryville Nissan’s service center technicians can assist you with any questions or issues you may be having with your car or transmission. Located at 991 Bethlehem Pike, Montgomeryville, PA 18936, Montgomeryville Nissan also has a large selection of new and used Nissans.