How to Check Your Transmission Fluid
Checking the transmission fluid of your vehicle is a simple, but critical part of transmission care. The best time to check your transmission fluid levels is when the engine is running at normal operating temperatures and when the engine is warmed up. After a 5 mile run or more, park on level ground and apply the handbrake, also called the emergency brake. With the engine idling, move the gear selector lever at least three times through all positions. Then set it in the 'P' (park) position and let the engine idle for two minutes. This is critical to getting an accurate reading.
Clean around the dipstick area to avoid dirt getting into the transmission. This ensures your not contaminating your tranmission fluid, which could lead to transmission problems down the line. Before removing the dipstick, wipe round it with a clean cloth to stop dirt entering the gearbox. With the engine idling, remove the dipstick entirely and wipe it thoroughly with a clean, non-fluffy cloth. Then replace it gently so as not to force fluid back up the dipstick tube, this could give a false reading. Withdraw it immediately and check the level. When check the fluid on the dipstick, make sure to look for specks of dirt or metal, both of these signs indicate wear and tear on your teansmission. If there are any dirt, metals or debris, get expert advice as soon as possible, before the repair becomes very expensive. It is typically much cheaper to flush the transmission, then to rebuid, or replace one. On older cars especially, make sure to check the fluid color against the color of new fluid. If a red fluid has darkened or turned black, it indicates overheating and the fluid should be changed immediately.