How to check automatic transmission fluid (ATF)?
What is an automatic transmission?
An automatic transmission (also called auto, self-shifting transmission or A/T) is a type of motor vehicle transmission that can automatically change gear ratios as the vehicle moves, freeing the driver from having to shift gears manually.
What is automatic transmission fluid?
In the past, most automatic transmissions had three gears (plus reverse) and if it had four gears, you had a real hot rod – or a luxury barge. Now, automatic transmissions have up to eight gears, either to placate performance drivers or to give cars optimal gearing for fuel efficiency – or both.
There are 3 main types of fluids for automatic gearboxes:
- The Automatic Transmission with Manual Controls
- The Continuously Variable Transmission or CVT
- The Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT)
Did you know?
- Our transmission range for automatic gearboxes is ELFMATIC
- The best automatic transmission fluid for cars is ELFMATIC CVT MV
- The best automatic transmission fluid for trucks and buses is ELFMATIC G3
How to check automatic transmission fluid level?
Refer to the vehicle's service manual before carrying out any operations.
The vehicle must be on a level surface with the engine switched off for at least 5 minutes. The handbrake should be applied and the gearbox in neutral
If you own a car with an automatic transmission, your car will have a dipstick for this purpose. Be careful not to make the common mistake of confusing the transmission dipstick with the crankcase dipstick. For most cars, checking the automatic transmission fluid consists of pulling the transmission dipstick out while the engine is warmed up and running and with the transmission in park. We suggest that you check your owner's manual, however, since some manufacturers may have a different procedure.
- Automatic transmission check – Step 1:
Locate the gearbox' filler cap (located beneath the cap) and unscrew it
- Automatic transmission check – Step 2:
Remove the filler cap and check the level
- Automatic transmission check – Step 3:
If there is no gauge, you can use a metal rod or a screwdriver to find the oil level in the sump. You can use a syringe to take an oil sample for analysis. However, we recommend that you get a professional to carry this out.
- Automatic transmission check – Step 4:
Remember to screw the filler cap back securely.
Automatic transmission fluid top up
If topping up is necessary, please follow these steps :
- Locate and unscrew the filler cap.
- Use a syringe or a special pump in order to gradually insert fresh oil.Pour the correct fluid slowly into the transmission. Add a little at a time so you do not overfill.
- Keep checking the oil level
How much transmission fluid do you add to your vehicle? It depends on what you're doing:
- Are you doing a simple top-up? If you see that the transmission fluid is a little low on the dipstick, start with a half a quart to a quart of transmission fluid. Recheck the level and add 1/4 quart at a time till the level is up to the full or max mark.
- Are you doing a transmission service, where you drop the pan and replace the filter? This kind of service regularly needs 4 to 5 quarts of transmission fluid in order to replace what was lost in the pan.
- Are you replacing the entire transmission fluid? It could take anywhere from 9 to 13 quarts of transmission fluid to adequately replace the entire transmission fluid.