How to Check the Automatic Transmission Fluid in a 2002 Ford Focusby Thomas West
The performance and longevity of your vehicle's automatic transmission can depend on checking the transmission fluid and keeping it at the correct level. A fluid level that is too low or too high can create shifting problems and may cause internal damage to the transmission. The 2002 Ford Focus has a transverse-mounted, four-cylinder engine that is mated to a four-speed automatic, overdrive transmission on some models. Fluid level should be checked frequently via the transmission dipstick tube in the engine compartment.
Drive the vehicle at least 20 miles to warm up the transmission fluid to operating temperature. Park on a level area and set the parking brake. Leave the engine running.
Press down on the brake pedal and move the transmission shift lever through each gear. Leave the shifter in each position long enough for the gear to fully engage before going to the next position. Place the shifter in park and release the brake.
Open the hood and locate the transmission dipstick near the front of the engine compartment, in-between the battery and engine block.
Pull the dipstick from the dipstick tube and wipe the end with a clean, lint-free cloth. Insert the dipstick back into the tube until it is fully seated.
Pull the dipstick back out of the tube and ensure the fluid level is between the minimum ("Min") and maximum ("Max") marks on the end of the dipstick. Insert the dipstick back into the tube until it is fully seated.
- Add fluid to the transmission if it is below the minimum mark on the dipstick. Remove the dipstick and place a funnel into the dipstick tube. Add Mercon V automatic transmission fluid -- available at Ford dealers -- in small increments. Check the fluid level with the dipstick between each increment to ensure you do not overfill the transmission.
- The automatic transmission fluid level may appear to be overfilledl if the level is checked after car has been operated at high speeds for long periods, used for city driving in hot weather or with prolonged, erratic braking or steering actions. Shut the engine off for 30 minutes to allow the transmission fluid cool off to correct the problem.
- Transmission fluid expands as it becomes warmer. Checking the fluid cold will give you an inaccurate reading. Always check the transmission warm, with the engine running and the transmission selector in "Park."