Regular car maintenance is necessary for your vehicle’s upkeep. Among other things, checking the transmission fluid is an important part of this process. Transmission fluid lubricates, protects and ensures optimal car transmissions. It is usually recommended to check transmission fluid when the engine is running.
Why to Check Transmission Fluid When The Engine is Running
The transmission fluid should be checked when the engine is a reason for an accurate reading. Let’s go through the reasons in detail.
Accurate fluid level
While the car engine is running, the transmission fluid heats up and expands – this is the ideal time for checking the transmission fluid. Checking the fluid level with a running engine ensures you get an accurate fluid level reading.
On the other hand, if you check the transmission fluid level with an off-engine, the fluid will expand and diminish leading to an inaccurate reading. Turning the engine on allows the fluid to reach its normal operating temperature range.
Circulation and pressure
Transmission fluid actively circulates throughout the transmission system when the engine is running. Checking the fluid level with a running engine makes sure the fluid flows properly and circulates through all the components, including the cooler, pump, and torque converter. It also allows you to check the fluid pressure, which indicates if there are any transmission issues. Here are the common signs and symptoms of excessive transmission fluid.
Another reason to check transmission fluid when the engine is running is to gather additional diagnostic information. For instance, you can observe the colour, consistency, and smell of the fluid, which can provide clues about the overall condition of the transmission.
Unusual colours, a burnt smell or dark and discoloured fluid, may indicate potential problems with the car transmission that require further attention. Here is how to identify car fluids leaks by colour and spot leaks.
The transmission fluid should be checked when the engine is running because of the torque converter. This is because the fluid level in the pan becomes higher when the torque converter is full. Simply put, when the engine is off, the fluid drains from the torque converter into the pan leading to an incorrect transmission fluid reading.
On the other hand, with a running engine, the fluids will be all around the transmission system, including the torque converter. This gives a more accurate fluid-level reading. Please note that the expansion rate of motor oil and transmission fluid is different and should be measured differently. Moreover, the vehicle transmission fluid is more sensitive to pressure than motor oil. Transmission fluid is among the essential fluids for your car.
Those are some important reasons why you should check transmission fluid when the engine is running. That said, it’s important to note that the checking transmission fluid should always be done according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. However, you must know how often to change transmission fluid to maintain the vehicle’s optimal performance.
Some vehicles may have specific instructions for checking the fluid level, such as having the transmission in park or neutral, while others may require the engine to be off. Always refer to the owner’s manual for the correct procedure for your specific vehicle to ensure accurate readings and avoid any safety risks. Moreover, here is how to check transmission fluid without dipstick.
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