Do you add transmission fluid with the car running

Adding transmission fluid can sound daunting, but it is actually quite simple. Save a trip to the auto shop and some money by following this easy guide on how to add transmission fluid. We will also outline how to check your fluid levels, which you should do regularly to catch any potential problems early on.

Transmission fluid is what keeps your car’s manual or automatic transmission running smoothly, allowing you to properly shift gears. What you will need to check or fill your transmission is a clean rag or paper towel, a long funnel, and your car’s specific transmission fluid. Every vehicle is different — check your owner’s manual to see what type of fluid your car needs.

How To Check And Add Transmission Fluid 

You must check your fluid levels while the car is warmed up to operating temperature. Some cars even require that you check it while the car is on and running. Refer to your owner’s manual to see if the car should be on or not. Regardless, the engine should at least be warmed up. 

Your car should also be parked on a level surface to ensure you get an accurate reading on your fluid level. Put the vehicle in park and make sure your emergency brake is set.

(Before you get started, it’s worth noting that a few vehicles, such as some Ford-F150s, don’t provide under hood easy access to check your transmission fluid. Instead, on these vehicles, you must check and fill the transmission fluid by opening a bolt on the transmission itself. This is beyond the scope of this article.)

Do you add transmission fluid with the car running
Do you add transmission fluid with the car running

1. Locate the hood release and open your hood. The hood release can usually be found by where your left knee rests while driving. If you cannot find it, refer to your owner’s manual.

2. Locate the transmission dipstick. The transmission dipstick will have either a yellow/orange handle or it will be marked with writing or an icon. Do not confuse the transmission dipstick with the oil dipstick; they look very similar. If you are not sure, again, refer back to your owner’s manual.

3. Pull the transmission dipstick out and wipe it clean. You will need to wipe the dipstick clean so that you can properly measure the fluid level, once you reinsert it.

4. Reinsert the dipstick back to its original location and remove it again. This will show you your fluid level.

5. Check the fluid level on the dipstick. The fluid should be between the hash marks on the dipstick. If it is below the lower hash mark, you will need to add more fluid.

Do you add transmission fluid with the car running
Do you add transmission fluid with the car running

How To Add More Transmission Fluid

Next, it is time to add more fluid. First, make sure you check your owner’s manual to make sure you have the correct fluid for your specific vehicle and transmission. This is extremely important! 

1. Place the funnel in the transmission check tube. The funnel will take the place of the dipstick. 

2. Add the fluid in very small increments. It is important to add only a little bit at a time. You need to be careful about how much you are adding because you actually do not need that much. Remember, you can always add more, but it will be extremely difficult to take fluid out if you overfill the transmission.

3. Recheck the level with the dipstick after each pour. This will allow you to see how much more you need, and keep you from overfilling. When you reach a level that reaches the top hashmark, or the full marker on the dipstick, remove the funnel and return the dipstick to its original spot.

ADVICE (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); Should car be on or off when checking transmission fluid level? | Car DoctorJohn PaulSpecial to The JournalView CommentsView CommentsQ: When I check the transmission fluid level dipstick on my 2003 Honda Accord, do I check with the car on or off?

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A:  This question isn’t as simple as you may think. Generally, any car with a dipstick for an automatic transmission is checked with the fluid at normal operating temperature and the engine running on a level surface.

According to the service manual for your Accord, it's a little different. The engine should be warm, but the fluid level is checked with the engine not running. So, in this case, warm up the engine, shift from park to reverse, then to drive and back to park, shut off the engine and then check the fluid level with the dipstick.

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Q: I have a 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport that I store in Florida for long periods of time. This can typically be two to three months. It is parked under a carport with no access to electricity for a trickle charger. The battery is two years old, but if the terminals are not disconnected the battery goes dead in about a month.

When I left in May, I decided to remove the negative terminal of the battery.  When I arrived in Florida recently, I connected the terminal and the car started right up.  However, every light possible comes on: ASC, engine light, 4-wheel-drive light, ABS light, etc. The car runs fine, other than the annoyance of these lights.

I brought the car to an Auto Zone store, and they used a scanner and said that the limited testing did not indicate anything wrong with the vehicle. They suggested bringing the car to a mechanic. I don't believe there is anything wrong. I would like to know how I can reset the system so the lights go away. How do I store the car in the future to avoid these lights?

A: You may have more than one thing going on. First off, you may have some sort of slight parasitic drain on the battery. A fully charged battery in good condition should be able to hold a charge for a month or even a little longer. I would start with checking all of the fuses and fully recharging the battery and retesting it.

I would also completely “reboot” the car's computer systems. This is accomplished by disconnecting the positive and negative cables and connecting the cables together with a jumper wire. If you are unsure about this, have your repair shop do it for you. This will completely discharge the capacitors in the system and clear all of the memory.

You may find after you reboot the system that it acts a little odd for a couple of restarts until it relearns the proper operation.

Even though you don’t have electricity where you park, you do have the power of the sun to maintain the car’s battery. You could look at solar charger maintainers. CTEK makes a true battery maintainer with an add-on solar panel. Less expensive battery chargers are available from Schumacher and from Deltran, which makes the very popular Battery Tender. Both have solar battery maintainer/chargers.

Q: I have driven Nissan products for approximately 35 years and find them to be fairly reliable, for the most part. My mechanic has nothing good to say about them for reasons unknown. What is your opinion of the newer Nissan models such as Rogue, Altima and Sentra, and just Nissan in general?

A: Some work out fine, but the CVTs (continually variable transmissions) are either perfect or fail around 75,000 miles. Some earlier cars had some severe rust issues as well.

I do believe that all of the changes in management have helped with quality over what I have experienced in the past.

The latest Roque is pretty good, as is the Altima. The last Sentra I evaluated was just a terrible car, and the Murano is just not my cup of tea.

Problems with some Nissan models are generally traced to electrical issues.

My last evaluation of the newest Frontier truck was quite good, and the extended-range Leaf EV was practical and fun to drive. 

As a whole, I would put Nissan quality at mid-pack, with the more popular Altima, Maxima and Roque in the top one third when compared with other models.

Q: Every time I take my Toyota in for service, I expect the fuel filter to be replaced, along with routine maintenance. When I have asked why they didn’t replace the fuel filter, they just said it didn’t need it.

I have a lawn tractor and a small boat, and I replace those filters every three years. Why not the car’s filter?

A: Some filters are designed to last the life of the car and are only replaced if the fuel was contaminated. Many Toyota products have large fuel filters which, under normal conditions, don’t require replacement.

AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul

John Paul is the AAA Northeast Car Doctor. He has more than 40 years of experience in the automobile industry and is an ASE-Certified Master Technician. Write to John Paul, The Car Doctor, at 110 Royal Little Drive, Providence, RI 02904. Or email [email protected] and put “Car Doctor” in the subject field. Follow him on Twitter @johnfpaul or on Facebook.

When should I add transmission fluid to my car?

Observe markings at end of dipstick. Your dipstick might have two markings for "full"—one warm, one cold. If the automatic transmission fluid level does not come up to the "warm" line, you'll need to add automatic transmission fluid. Insert long funnel into automatic transmission fluid dipstick hole.

Do you put transmission fluid in hot or cold?

Turn on your car, leaving it in park, and let the engine run for a few minutes to warm up. Transmission fluid expands in heat and in order to receive accurate results, it must be under normal operating conditions. If the fluid is checked when the engine is cold, you may get false results indicating the fluid is low.

Do you add transmission fluid where the dipstick is?

Step 2: Add fluid through a funnel. You can add more by inserting a funnel into the tube the dipstick was withdrawn from and pouring a small amount of automatic transmission fluid into the pipe. Check the level each time you add a little until the level is right between the two lines.