5 Symptoms of Low Transmission Fluid- What you Need to Know

June 2, 2020MechVibesblog

Do you experience any issue with your transmission? A strange noise after a quick start? There are few related symptoms of low transmission fluid problems which can cause damage to your transmission.

How do transmissions run out of low fluid? I remember getting this question from a colleague who drives a 2008 Rav4. He was actually having minor issues with his car transmission.

He normally calls me for few tip on his car and also few minor problems he have been encountering.


Transmissions are lifeline to the movement of every moving vehicle. They play a a big role in vehicle movements.

The purpose for the introduction of transmission fluids is to help the rotation of gears, actuate clutches, operate torque converters and to ensure that all meshing teeth,gears and bearings have an adequate supply of fluid.

Transmission fluid are mostly protected through the method of oil sealing. Oil sealing arrangements are mainly found at the front and back ends of transmissions.

This method help prevent the loss of oil and contamination of the clutch friction facings.

Moreover, transmission fluids mainly serves as a purpose of cooling the transmission by absorbing the heat derived through the meshing of gears.

Refusing to top up your transmission fluid when low is a step ahead of damaging your transmission and additional components on your vehicle.

Today, we will learn more about low transmission fluids, its symptoms and how to rectify if your transmission is running out of fluid.

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Symptoms/Signs of low transmission fluid

Before we set the ball rolling, you have to take note that transmission is a complex system and various noises and symptoms can be emitted from a transmission.

Diagnostics of all faults and signs should be taken into account the driving conditions during the time the fault is proved.

Read more;

What Is Mercedes Benz Intelligent Servo Module and How it Works.


  1. Transmission Overheating
  2. Transmission hardly shift
  3. Warning light on cluster
  4. Transmission slip
  5. Strange Noise

1. Transmission Overheating


Overheating is term as the rise in temperature, above its desired rate. Overheating in transmission is a one major symptoms of low transmission fluid.

Transmissions mainly relies on ATF(Automatic Transmission Fluid) for cooling as it gears mesh or in operation.

Hence,modern transmissions and cars have specific features which alerts the driver with a pop-up message on the dashboard- Transmission Overheating!!!

Whenever you driving and experience a sign as stated above, is advisable to slow down or stop immediately at a safe place to cool down your transmission.

Besides, you can call roadside assistance for quick look. Mostly, transmission produce bad smell or loss of power which helps you notice your transmission is overheating.

Refusing, will cause your transmission to burn out, you may burn out all your clutches which will then bring unexpected cost.

2. Transmission hardly shift

Automatic transmission systems are mainly based on fluids for a smoother change of gears. Transmissions which is hardly to shift is also a sign of low transmission fluid.

Whenever you begin to have such challenges, its actually a sign that there is something wrong with your transmission.

Moreover, dirty transmission fluid can cause your transmission been able to shift. Take a close look at that as well.


3. Warning light on cluster

Does your transmission mostly slip every time you change gears or as vehicle is in motion, then is a sign of transmission slippage and its a result of low transmission fluid.

Transmission slippage is also a sign of wear in the transmission system, which makes transmission to fully engage when driving or changing gears.

If you experience such signs, kindly take a quick action to avoid future damage or cost.

4. Transmission slip

Here, a warning light will pop-up on your dashboard, prompting you transmission fluid is hotter than expected and you are required to top up or have a critical look at it.

Warning lights are signs of expected damage or unusual seen on your vehicle.

5. Strange Noise

Do you hear strange noise from the transmission when driving or changing gears. Its also a sign of low transmission fluid.

Mostly, its from the torque converter, when the fluid in the torque converter is low, it begin to produce strange spinning noise whenever you slightly accelerate.

Besides, to fully diagnose this, park vehicle on a hill, and kindly accelerate slowly, you will feel a strange noise from the transmission, mainly the torque converter.

Kindly, top up your transmission fluid to prevent converter damage.

Bonus Tips on low transmission fluid

 Hence, I came up with additional tips for you. You may encounter such symptoms as well;

  • Fluid leakage
  • Delayed in gear engagement
  • Surging Transmission


As stated above, transmissions are lifeline to every vehicle and requires proper attention. Refusing to check your transmission fluid on daily,weekly or monthly basis can lead to high cost of repairs.

To prevent this, is advisable to check your transmission fluid on regular basis. This can be done using the transmission dip stick.

If found low, quickly top it up with the right or prescribe fluid for your vehicle. Fluids can be check in two ways, at cold temperatures and low temperatures.

Mostly check fluids after vehicle engine is run on idle for about 5 minutes.

Your Views

Finally, how well did this article help you. Are you experiencing additional symptoms, Your views are welcome.

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