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How to Check Transmission Fluid on a Corolla

by Jody L. Campbell

If you're about to go on a long trip or just as a preventative maintenance precaution, checking your own transmission fluid in a Toyota Corolla is extremely simple and can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars in repairs if something wrong is noticed in time. Checking the transmission fluid when the motor it warm so the petroleum based fluid will expand and give you a proper reading on the dipstick is the best time. This can be done after a trip to the store and will take less then a minute now that the transmission fluid and motor are warmed up.

Drive the car for 10 minutes or so to heat up the motor and expand the transmission fluid. This will give you a more accurate reading on the dipstick since the transmission fluid is petroleum based and will expand as it heats up.

Park the car on a flat, level surface and with your foot on the brake, shift the transmission lever through all of the gears and stay in each gear for three seconds. Place the vehicle in park and keep the engine running. Release hood latch.

Locate the hood release latch directly beneath the front center of the hood. Slide it to the left and open the hood. Use the metal hood prop to secure the hood. It will be laying flat on the right hand side of the fender well.

Locate the transmission dipstick. Most likely this will be red or black on the handle to avoid confusing it with the yellow engine oil dipstick. It may be located on the right side of the motor near the firewall or perhaps to the left of the exhaust manifold in the front of the motor.

Remove the dipstick and wipe clean with shop rag. Reinsert the dipstick into the dipstick tube and remove a second time. Compare the reading on the dipstick to the level indicator at the bottom of the dipstick. There should a be transmission hot level or safe crosshatch markings on the dipstick that you can read to see if you need to add fluid.

To add fluid, place the long, narrow necked funnel into the dipstick tube and pour a small amount of approved transmission fluid into the funnel. Determining the correct amount to add will be difficult at first so just add one quick pour and then reinsert the dipstick into the dipstick tube and recheck before adding more. You will have to allow the fluid time to trickle through the dipstick tube to obtain an accurate reading. Use only transmission fluid specified for the vehicle labeled in the owners manual under fluid specifications chart. Add more as necessary.

Reinsert the dipstick into the dipstick tube and check the level again. You may have to repeat this procedure over and over, but do not add a lot at one time. There's no way to remove the transmission fluid from the system if you overfill it without dropping the transmission pan. This is an entirely different procedure and much more complicated. It will most likely have to be performed at a transmission approved service center.

Tip

  • Have the transmission system flushed per maintenance schedule recommendations. A transmission flush will clean through and replace all of the transmission fluid, including through the torque converter and not just the four quarts or so in the transmission pan. Check your fluid regularly if you had to add some to the vehicle. If you continue to have to add fluid, this may be indicative of having a more serious problem and should be looked at by a qualified transmission repair shop or the dealer.

Warning

  • Do not overfill the fluid.

Items you will need

About the Author

Jody L. Campbell spent over 15 years as both a manager and an under-car specialist in the automotive repair industry. Prior to that, he managed two different restaurants for over 15 years. Campbell began his professional writing career in 2004 with the publication of his first book.

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