What Is Transmission Fluid and How Do You Check It?

September 27th, 2017 by

Transmission Fluid

How to check your VW Jetta transmission fluid

already know engine oil is used to lubricate your engine, because metal-on-metal grinding is obviously not a good thing. We hope you also know how to check your engine oil and what to look for. Less well-known is transmission fluid, which is likewise used to lubricate your transmission system, and acts as a coolant in automatic transmissions. When researching transmission fluid, you’ll likely see “ATF” for automatic transmission fluid. This is because manual transmissions might use regular engine oil, ATF or a heavyweight hypoid gear oil. Your specific model information can be found in your owner’s manual. For now, we are focusing on how to check automatic transmission fluid in vehicles like the VW Jetta.

Why doesn’t the transmission have a dipstick?

Checking your engine oil is as simple as pulling out the dipstick, but it’s not quite as simple with your transmission fluid. This is because your transmission is a sealed unit and it’s highly recommended that you bring your vehicle in to a certified dealer to check the fluid for you. Your VW Jetta must be warmed up before you can check the fluid, and we need to lift your car and level it for an accurate measurement.

We don’t recommend checking the fluid yourself unless you know what you’re doing. You’ll need a lift, or you’ll have to jack up your Jetta from all four corners for it to be level. Checking your transmission fluid involves both removing the fill/check plug from the transmission, which you can find on the upper left-hand corner, and the drain plug, located on the lower right-hand side.

If the fluid seems fine, you can replace the fill plug or fill it if things seem low. Transmission fluid should be pink and clean, and shouldn’t have a burnt smell.

Both your fill and drain plugs need to be removed with a wrench, starting with the fill/check to ensure you need to top it off or change the fluid. If your fluid seems bad, then drain the fluid into a drain pan. It’s important not only to torque a new drain plug in (reusing the old one will likely cause it to leak) but also use a hand oil pump to refill your fluid until a little leaks out.

As you can probably tell, changing your transmission fluid isn’t for everyone. If you’re unsure if it’s time to have it changed, visit us here at Kuhn VW. Also be sure to check back here at our dealership blog for more service FAQs.

Posted in Service