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Low Transmission Fluid Symptoms

Low Transmission Fluid Symptoms
Ignoring low transmission fluid symptoms is a perfect recipe for disaster as these symptoms usually hint at impending transmission problems, like rough shifting and deterioration of transmission components.
Abhijit Naik
Last Updated: May 31, 2018
As transmission fluid works as a lubricant in the transmission system of a vehicle, its absence can result in tremendous wear and tear of all those components that it caters to. In case of automatic transmission, where the fluid doubles up as a coolant to ensure that the engine doesn't get overheated, the wear and tear gets even worse.
Transmission fluid is undoubtedly one of the most important requirements of the transmission system, such that if it is not there in required quantity, it is bound to reflect on the overall performance of the vehicle.
Symptoms of Low Transmission Fluid
Being well-versed with the role of transmission fluid in the vehicle and knowing how low fluid affects the vehicle can help you diagnose the problem at the earliest and work out a solution before the situation gets worse. If you are facing the problem of low transmission fluid in your vehicle ...
  • ... you will experience transmission slip between gear shifts every once in a while.
  • ... you will literally feel the rough movements or jerks when shifting gears.
  • ... you will experience a drag when you shift the gear to move forward or in reverse as the vehicle will take some time to adjust and pick up speed.
  • ... you are likely to see transmission temperature rise due to increased friction.
  • ... you may notice that the transmission fails to engage at times.
If you have been using the vehicle for a considerable period, these occurrences will come across as obvious changes for you, and you will realize that something is wrong with your vehicle. Additionally, you will also notice tremendous wear and tear of several components of the transmission owing to the lack of lubrication and overheating.
In automatic transmission system, the hydraulic pump will suck up air and fluid together, which, in turn, will result in formation of foam. Considering that the transmission generally requires pressurized fluid to operate, this foam formation is bound to hamper its operation.
Crosscheck With a Dipstick
If any of the aforementioned symptoms start surfacing, you should go ahead and check the level of fluid using a dipstick. You will have to compare the results of the dipstick test with the level of fluid stipulated in the user manual of the vehicle. The test will help you determine whether the symptoms can be actually attributed to low transmission fluid or there is some other problem―the chances of which cannot be ruled out.
Ideally, you should check the transmission fluid in the vehicle at least once in a month. Other than the level, you should also monitor its color and odor. Bad transmission fluid turns black or brown in color, and gives out a burnt odor. If you observe either of these signs, it implies that it's the time for you to opt for fluid change. Driving with bad fluid is as bad as driving with low fluid and therefore, fluid change after regular intervals is equally important.
You need to understand that driving with low transmission can result in major transmission problems. Maintaining the necessary amount of transmission fluid in the vehicle is a basic, and yet crucial aspect of car maintenance. If you don't pay attention to it, it is bound to spell trouble for you.