Signs of Being Low on Transmission Fluidby Johnno CaryUpdated August 02, 2023
Transmission Gear Slippage
A transmission that is low on transmission fluid will lack the hydraulic power to adequately shift and maintain transmission gear position. Transmission fluid provides the fluid force necessary to keep a transmission functioning properly in all gear selections.
Many times a transmission that is low on transmission fluid will fail to function at all. No matter what transmission gear is selected, the transmission will fail to engage and will instead act as if it were stuck in neutral. This is the result of a lack of transmission fluid force.
Sluggish Transmission Shifts
For a transmission to shift quickly and precisely, adequate transmission fluid must be available to provide the force needed to shift the gears. A low transmission fluid level can negatively impact transmission shifting, causing slow and/or sluggish shifts.
A surging transmission, a transmission that causes a vehicle to lurch forward and then fall backward during normal operation, is often the result of a low transmission fluid level. The surging and erratic transmission movements are caused by insufficient fluid force during all ranges of transmission operation.
Increased Transmission Operating Temperature
Just like a vehicle engine that needs adequate engine oil levels to help maintain normal operating temperature, a transmission requires adequate transmission fluid levels to help maintain normal transmission operating temperature. A low transmission fluid level increases friction and heat, both of which raise transmission operating temperature.