How to Check Transmission Fluid in Volkswagen Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

As is the case with many automatic transmission Volkswagen car the Volkswagen car does not have an automatic transmission dipstick in the engine compartment. The transmission is a sealed unit and it is recommended by the VW dealers to bring to them to have the fluid checked. And as is the case with most vehicles, someone can always find a way to avoid having to go to the dealer to pay their expensive labor repairs and perform the tasks themselves. VW will tell you that they need to take the temperature of the fluid, and that the car needs to be lifted and level. While leveling and lifting the Volkswagen car is true, getting the car to regular operating temperature is all you really have to do before lifting it.

Under The Hood:

 How to Check Transmission Fluid in a Jetta

Drive the Jetta for 10 minutes or so to warm up the transmission fluid. Stop the car on level ground where you intend to work, and place your foot on the brake. Shift the shifter into each gear and hold it there for three to four seconds. Place the transmission in Park.

If you have access to a lift or a friend with a lift, then use it to raise the car from the ground. Otherwise, you'll need to use a floor jack to lift all four corners and secure them on jack stands. It's critical that the car remain level.

Locate the transmission and the two plugs. On the low right-hand side -- passenger side -- of the transmission you'll see the drain plug. On the front, upper left-hand corner you'll see the fill-check plug. Remove the fill-check plug first with a wrench; if the transmission fluid is up to level, a small amount will trickle out. Next, place a drain pan under the drain plug and remove the plug. Allow the fluid to drain.

Install a new drain plug and snug it down to about 22 foot-pounds with a torque wrench. The gasket on these plugs are single-use only; if you reinstall the old gasket, it will almost certainly leak. Use a hand oil pump, with one tube in fresh tranny fluid and the other in the check-fill hole, to refill the transmission with fluid. It's impossible to overfill -- just stop when fluid starts to trickle out of the check-fill hole.

Install a new fill plug and snug it down similarly. Lower the car, start it and run the shifter through all the gear with your foot on the brake, pausing for about five seconds in each gear.

Items you will need

  • Level ground

  • Lift (optional)

  • Floor jack

  • Four jack stands

  • Metric wrench set

  • Drain bucket

  • Hand oil pump

  • Transmission fluid

  • Torque wrench

  • New fill and drain plugs

 How to Check the Transmission Fluid in a Volkswagen Golf

Drive the Golf for 10 to 15 minutes to get it up to operating temperature. Drive it into the shop to be lifted. Switch the stick shift through all the gears with your foot on the brake and hold it for 3 seconds in each gear

Place the Golf in "Neutral" and leave it idling. Release the hood latch.

Lift and support the hood. Locate the transmission fill plug on the engine block.

Set the lift posts on the rocker panels and lift the Golf all the way up.

Locate the transmission check plug on the right (passenger) side of the Golf. It'll be on the low end of the transmission housing.

Place a drain bucket beneath the check plug and remove the plug using a ratchet and a 5 mm male hex head adapter. Fluid should trickle out very slightly and slowly. If so, the fluid level is fine. If not, add a very little bit of fluid at a time into the funnel placed in the fill plug. If you have to add fluid, lower the Golf down on the lift low enough to add fluid but still high enough above the drain bucket. Add a little fluid at a time and check underneath until fluid starts to trickle out of the check hole.

Wipe the transmission housing with a rag and replace and tighten the check plug. Remove the drain bucket and lower the Golf to the ground.

Remove the funnel and replace the fill plug.

Items you will need

  • Long, thin-necked funnel (optional) Transmission fluid Ratchet and 5 mm male hex head socket adapter Drain bucket Shop rag Car lift

 How to Check the Transmission Fluid in a 1996 VW Cabrio

Apply the parking brake, then turn the engine on. Depress the brake pedal and shift through each of the transmission's gears several times to allow the transmission fluid to circulate.

Turn the engine off and climb underneath the driver's side of the car.

Locate and remove the plastic filler plug from the driver's side of the transmission, just above the transmission's pan. The pan is located on the bottom of the transmission, and is rectangular in shape. A lip surrounds the tip of the filler plug. Insert the blade of a standard screwdriver underneath the lip, then pry the plug out of the transmission.

Start the engine, then observe the filler plug's opening on the side of the transmission. If transmission fluid can be seen slowly dripping out of the filler plug opening, the transmission's fluid level is correct. Insert the plug into the transmission, then gently tap on the top of the plug until it rests evenly against the side of the transmission. If no fluid exits the opening, fluid must be added.

Add transmission fluid through the filler plug's opening. A hand-operated fluid pump is necessary to add fluid. Screw the threaded fitting on the base of the pump onto the container of new transmission fluid. Insert the pump's hose through the plug opening. Pump fluid into the transmission until fluid begins to drip out, then install the plug.

Items you will need

  • Standard screwdriver

  • Hand-operated fluid pump

  • Transmission fluid

 How to Check the Transmission Fluid on a 1996 VW Jetta GL

Drive the 1996 VW Jetta GL around for about 10 to 15 minutes to heat the transmission up.

Park the Jetta on a flat surface and turn the engine off. Jack up the front and back of the Jetta and place jack stands under the proper front and rear jacking points. This is to ensure that the car is level while checking the transmission fluid.

Carefully sit in the driver seat and crank the engine up. Let the engine run for about 2 to 3 minutes. Move the gear shift through each of the gears a couple of times, then put the gear shift back into "Park."

Get out of the car and slide under the middle passenger's side of the Jetta along with a drip pan. Locate the "Transmission Fluid Check" plug on the bottom of the transmission pan. The plug will be inside a recessed hole on the bottom of the pan. Place the drip pan under the check plug hole.

Slowly loosen and remove the check plug with a ratchet and a socket. Once the plug is loose, finish unscrewing the plug with your fingers. Once the plug is completely out of the check hole, a small amount of fluid should trickle out of the hole. If so, the transmission is full of fluid. If not, the fluid in the transmission is low. If no fluid trickles out of the fill hole, locate the fill plug on the front side of the transmission pan. The fill plug is the only other plug on the front of the transmission pan.

Loosen and remove the fill plug. Once the plug is loose, finish unscrewing the plug with your fingers and place the plug on the ground. Slide the end of a small hose into the fill plug hole. Slide out from under the car and insert the end of a funnel into the other end of the small hose.

Begin pouring the transmission fluid into funnel. Keep a check on the transmission fluid check hole while adding the transmission fluid. Once the transmission fluid begins to trickle out of the check hole, stop pouring the transmission fluid into the transmission and remove the hose and funnel from the fill hole.

Screw the fill plug and the check plug back into the transmission pan. Tighten the plugs down snug with the ratchet and socket. Torque both plugs down to between 30 to 35 foot-pounds with a torque wrench and a socket. Pull the drip pan out from under the car and turn the engine off.

Jack the Jetta back up and remove the jack stands from under the front and rear of the car. Lower the Jetta back to the ground and remove the jack.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Drip pan

  • 1/2-inch drive ratchet

  • 1/2-inch drive socket set

  • Volkswagen transmission fluid

  • Funnel

  • Long plastic hose

  • Torque wrench

 How Do I Check the Transmission Fluid in My VW New Beetle?

Manual Transmission

Park the car on a level surface, then raise it with the jack and support it evenly on jack stands. If the car is not level, you can get an inaccurate reading of the fluid level.

Unscrew the plug for the check/fill level. This plug is located at the front side of the transaxle, while the drain plug is located at the rear of the transaxle and usually requires a 17mm Allen wrench to remove.

Reach into the hole with your pinky finger and feel the level of the fluid. It needs to be near or at the bottom of the plug hole.

Add SAE 75W90 synthetic gear oil to the transaxle through the fill hole using a syringe or squeeze bottle (if the transaxle needs fluid). Add the fluid slowly until it is at the correct level, then reinstall the plug.

Automatic Transmission

Park the car on a level surface and set the parking brake. Turn on the engine, move the shift lever through all the gears and bring it back to Park, then wait for instrument panel engine-temperature gauge to read between 95 and 113 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the level-check plug from underneath the car. The plug is located along the curved edge of the transaxle case. The fluid is at the right level if it just barely drips out. If no fluid come out at 113 degrees, you need to add more.

Pry off the fill plug, which is located along the side of the case, using a large screwdriver, while the level-check plug still off. Add VW automatic transmission fluid in small amounts with a syringe until fluid starts dripping out of the level hole.

Reinstall the plugs with new seals. You may also need to replace the cap on the fill plug.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Allen wrench

  • Large screwdriver

  • Transmission fluid

  • Syringe/squeeze bottle

About the Author

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