How to Check Your Gearbox Oil Level

  • Reasons to Check Gearbox Oil
  • Causes of Low Gearbox Oil Level
  • Symptoms of Low Transmission Fluid Level
  • Steps to Check Gearbox Oil Level
  • How Often Should You Check
  • FAQs

A gearbox has several moving parts coming into contact with each other. Fluid helps reduce the friction between those moving parts. Besides, the gearbox oil reduces the wear and tear of the parts. However, this only happens if the car has the correct gearbox fluid level.

Similar to engine oil, gearbox oil has its importance. For that reason, one must learn about checking the gearbox oil level and how to maintain it. 

Here is the detailed procedure for checking transmission fluid level and its draining and filling method.

All About Checking Gearbox Oil Level

Transmission fluid level is very important alongside the quality and colour of the fluid. The fluid level helps lubricate the moving parts. Besides, it keeps the transmission temperature cool.

Let’s go through the complete details about checking the gearbox oil level, but first, learn about why you should be checking the transmission fluid level. 

Automatic transmission fluid cap
You can check automatic transmission fluid without a dipstick

Reasons for Checking Transmission Oil Level

The main reasons for checking the gearbox oil level are the following:

  • Transmission fluid lubricates the moving parts inside the gearbox. Proper lubrication reduces friction and wear, extending the lifespan of the gearbox components.
  • Gearboxes can generate a significant amount of heat during operation. The gearbox oil helps to dissipate this heat alongside the transmission oil cooler.
  • Over time, gearbox oil can become contaminated with debris, dirt and metal particles from normal wear and tear. Checking the oil level allows you to inspect its condition and identify any signs of contamination. 
  • The gearbox oil also helps to maintain the integrity of the seals and gaskets inside the gearbox. Insufficient oil level can lead to seal failure, causing leaks and potentially allowing contaminants to enter the gearbox.
  • Maintaining the correct gearbox oil level ensures optimal performance of the transmission system. Low oil levels or leaking fluid are among the causes of a transmission slip.

Furthermore, you must check the transmission fluid when the engine is running. It will help determine the accurate fluid level. Plus, you can get an idea of heat dissipation. 

Causes of Low Gearbox Oil Level

One of the common problems of gearboxes is the oil level. Modern cars solve this issue by recommending an oil change after achieving mileage. That said, checking the automatic transmission fluid level is still imminent. The following factors cause low gearbox oil levels:

  • The most common reason for low gearbox oil levels is leaking. Leaks can occur from various points in the gearbox system, such as seals, gaskets or damaged components. 
  • Wear and tear on gearbox components can also contribute to low oil levels. As parts degrade, they may develop cracks or holes through which oil can leak.
  • Low oil levels can be due to incorrect filling during maintenance. 
  • Gearbox oil can evaporate over time. High temperatures, prolonged use and operating in extreme conditions can accelerate oil evaporation.
  • Losing its lubricating properties and becoming less effective at protecting components, contaminated or degraded oil may leak more easily or be less capable of maintaining the proper oil level in the gearbox.
  • If the gearbox has been improperly installed or serviced, it may result in leaks or other issues that lead to low oil levels. 

While low oil level causes lots of issues, high transmission fluid levels can also lead to gear-shifting issues. For instance, symptoms of excessive transmission fluid include gear slippage or odd noises.

Symptoms of Low Gearbox Oil Level

checking automatic transmission fluid and removing the excessive oil
Low or high levels of gearbox fluid can cause certain problems

The checking of the gearbox oil level becomes essential because low transmission fluid level can pose the following symptoms: 

  • Insufficient lubrication due to low oil levels can result in difficulty shifting gears smoothly. You may notice grinding, hesitation or resistance when shifting gears. Also, it is one of the reasons behind automatic transmission not shifting into high gears.
  • Low gearbox oil levels cause increased friction and wear between components, leading to abnormal noises such as whining, whirring or clunking during operation. 
  • Inadequate lubrication can cause increased friction and heat generation within the gearbox. 
  • Low gearbox oil levels can result in visible leaks or oil seepage from various points in the gearbox system, such as seals, gaskets or drain plugs
  • A gearbox with low oil levels experiences decreased performance. For instance, it can be a reason behind sluggish acceleration or power loss, but it can also be due to clogged filters or failed sensors. This can affect the overall drivability and responsiveness of the vehicle.
  • Some vehicles come equipped with transmission warning lights on the dashboard that illuminate when there is a problem with the gearbox system. 
  • Insufficient gearbox oil slips out of place or fails to engage. It causes RPM fluctuations or difficulty maintaining speed, particularly when accelerating or climbing hills.

Steps to Check Gearbox Oil Level

check gearbox oil as low or high level can cause problems
Checking gear oil is essential to avoid wear and tear on parts coming into contact with each other

When following the car maintenance checklist, you must check the gearbox oil level alongside other fluid levels. Here is how to check the gearbox oil level:

  • Park your vehicle on a level surface and engage the parking brake. 
  • Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, the gearbox oil level can be checked either through a dipstick or a filler plug.
  • Before removing the dipstick or filler plug, make sure the area around it is clean. Wipe away any dirt or debris to prevent contamination of the gearbox oil.
  • If your vehicle has a dipstick, simply pull it out and wipe it clean with a rag. Reinsert the dipstick fully, then pull it out again and check the oil level. There will be markings on the dipstick indicating the proper oil level range. 
  • If your vehicle has a filler plug, you’ll need to remove it and use a suitable tool or your finger to check the oil level. You can learn how to check the transmission fluid without a dipstick.
  • If the oil level is below the recommended range, you’ll need to add more gearbox oil. 
  • After adding oil, recheck the oil level using the dipstick or filler hole to ensure it’s within the recommended range.

How Often Should You Check Transmission Fluid Level?

gear parts can wear and tear if fluid level is low
Check the gearbox oil level during monthly maintenance of the vehicle

You should check your transmission fluid level every month or every 1500 kilometres to ensure proper maintenance and prevent potential issues. Besides checking the gearbox oil level, you must determine the colour, as it will help determine if the fluid is contaminated. You must learn more details about when to change the transmission fluid.


How do I know if my gearbox oil is low?

If your gearbox oil is low, you may notice symptoms such as difficulty shifting gears, strange noises during gear changes and transmission slipping. Checking the fluid level can help prevent these issues.

How do you check gear oil quality?

To check the quality of gear oil, you can inspect its colour, smell and texture. Healthy gear oil is transparent or amber in colour, with no significant darkening or cloudiness. Besides, if the oil appears dark, gritty or has a burnt odour, it requires replacement. 

Checking the gearbox oil level is essential to ensure optimal performance. When you buy a used car in the UAE, you must inspect the vehicle thoroughly. You can also take advantage of the dubizzle Cars Inspection services.

Stay tuned to the dubizzle Cars blog to learn more details about car maintenance and repairs.


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