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Should You Check Your Transmission Fluids While Your Car is Running?

man checking transmission fluid

Without transmission fluid, your car will not run. 

This fluid is necessary for keeping certain parts lubricated, cooling the transmission, and more. So, driving around with low fluid - or transmission fluid that is dirty - means that you are putting excessive stress on the unit. The result? Unwanted transmission issues

But, how do you check your transmission fluid? Should your car be turned off? Or should it be running? Let’s find out. 

Signs Your Transmission Fluid is Low

Your transmission requires transmission fluid to run well. So when it is running low, you will likely feel it. Here are a few signs of low transmission fluid. 

  • Overheating. Fluid is used to regulate the temperature within your transmission. When it is too low, the system can overheat. You may notice a burning smell
  • Difficulty shifting gears - or slipping gears. This is more noticeable in cars with a manual transmission but can be felt in automatic too. For instance, you may feel a slight delay or momentary weak acceleration. Slipping gears refers to your car not staying the geat it should be in. 
  • Clunking or whining sounds. Unusual noise that begins to come from the transmission can often be due to low transmission fluid. Sometimes a flush and change will leave the car running quietly. 
  • Leaking fluid. Anytime you see that fluid has leaked underneath your automobile, it is important to check your fluid levels. Transmission fluid is often red - so keep an eye out in your normal parking spot. Bear in mind that it may get darker, too. Regardless, if you notice a leak - it is time to get the car check out. 

Do You Check Transmission Fluid With the Car Running? 

It is possible to check your transmission fluid when the car is running and warm - and when it hasn’t been started and is cold. Either will work. To make this easy, your dipstick will have a cold and warm full line so you can easily tell where the should be. 

To get the most accurate reading of your transmission fluid, you will want to check your fluid with the car warmed up. Run it for about 10 minutes and leave it running while you check your transmission fluid level.

How to Check Your Transmission Fluid

You should consider checking your transmission fluid (and all your vehicle’s fluid) about once a month. It is a simple step to take to ensure y our car is running correctly. 

Below are the steps necessary to check your transmission fluid: 

  • Put your automobile in ‘park’ on a level surface. This will help you to get an accurate reading because the car will not be slanted. 
  • Let the car continue to run so that it is warmed up - and, of course, leave it running while you go through these steps. 
  • Find the transmission dipstick. Pull it out, wipe it clean, and re-insert it. 
  • Pull out the dipstick one more time and notice where your markings are and where your fluid is. Since your car is in warmed up, you are looking for the fluid to reach the warm line.

If your fluid is not where it should be, contacting your trusted transmission specialist for further direction is a good idea. 

Visit Your Local Transmission Specialists

If your fluid is low or doesn’t look right, it is best to have your automobile evaluated by skilled transmission specialists. That’s what you will find at Circle D Transmission. 

For decades, we have been helping those in and around the Houston, TX area with all their transmission needs. And we can help you, too. 

Contact us today at (713) 895-7019.

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