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Automatic Transmission Fluid

An automatic transmission shifts from one gear ratio to another without driver assistance.

Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) Types. Clean ATF is pinkish-red. Always use the ATF recommended by the manufacturer.

Checking ATF. For accurate results, most manufacturers recommend checking ATF while it is hot with the gear selector in park. Park on a level surface and apply the parking brake. Locate the automatic transmission oil dipstick.

Reading the Dipstick. With the engine idling, pull out the dipstick, wipe it off with a paper towel, reinsert it completely into the tube, remove again, and note the reading. The ATF should be between the “full cold” and the “full hot” marks. Note: To minimize the risk of internal damage from overfilling or adding the incorrect type of fluid, some automatic transmissions do not have a dipstick and must be checked with a special tool and/or procedure.

Adding ATF. If low, use a clean funnel to pour the ATF directly into the tube. It usually takes only one pint (½ quart or 0.47 L) of fluid to bring the level from the “full cold” to the “full hot” mark. Recheck the level and add more if necessary. Do not overfill.