Transmission, Automatic

Fluid Level Checking

Fluid Level Checking

> After the light changed, I rolled on and found the car wouldn't
> shift out of 2nd! (Let me tell you, 5K rpms isn't nearly as fun in
> 2nd gear as top.) I turned into a near by parking lot and stopped.
> I then started and stopped and 'shifted' from 2-3-D etc with no
> change.
> That evening, I thought I'd give the car a second try... Perfect.
> Like nothing ever happened! What's up with that?

Simple answer. Check your AT level, I'll bet your transmission fluid level is low. I had the exact same problem. I thought I had checked the level but Dave Roberts gave me the instructions and indeed, it was low.

This is the correct method to check the level [note, most mechanics won't know where to find the level, let along fill it correctly. It is MUCH easier to fill when on a rack or over a lube pit.

a. Car must be level. With a warm transmission (if you can drive it, go 5 miles or so, if not, let it idle for 10 minutes).

b. Set the parking brake and block the wheels. With the engine running, run the selector through all the gears, then put in in neutral.

c. Scrunch down on the right rear side behind the rear tire. With a flashlight check the level in the plastic fluid tank. The tank is at the right rear of transmission, just ahead of the final drive unit. Some models may have a steel shield around it with indicator notches, others, the level is indicated on the plastic tank. [If you can't see the tank, or if it is dirty, you'll need to jack the car up, tidy it up, then check it].

d. There are 3 level lines, the bottom is the full (min) level when cold, middle is full (min) level when warm, and top notch is full when hot (80C).

e. If it is low, you'll need a squeeze bottle/bulb or a pump to suck the fluid (Dexron III) from the container up onto the plastic tank. If you're jacking the car up from the rear only [use jack stands], DON'T over fill. Squirt in only 8 oz. at a time. You'll need to drop the car back to level ground, restart the engine and run he transmission through the gears and back to neutral. Then check again. [when the engine is off, or when tilted up from the rear, you don't get an accurate level reading]. After several up/down cycles you'll have a full tranny and get your daily excercise.

This will fix this strange trouble. Depending upon the leak rate, remember to check the level every month or you'll be scratching your head again.


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