Transmission low fluid level symptoms

The following symptoms happen when the automatic transmission is low on fluid:

1. The transmission does not shift up when it should

2. When the transmission upshifts, it does so with a "kick" or a "jerk"

3. There is a noticeable delay between shifts


The car should not be driven with these symptoms. It should be stopped immediately, and automatic transmission fluid level check.

Note: It is extremely dangerous and damaging for an automatic transmission to be over-filled, even by a small amount. Fluid level checks must be done according to the owner's manual procedure. Fluid applied must be in small periodic amounts, with fluid level checks in between. Driving the transmission with an overfilled fluid level will lead to a quick and catastrophic damage.


If you have an older transmission, and are experiencing mild versions of symptoms above, and you are certain your fluid level is normal, then your transmission may require maintenance.

However, transmission re-build or overhaul is a multi-thousand dollar affair. You transmission may benefit from a fluid replacement, and a maintenance mix.

First, see if you can find transmission fluid replacement maintenance records. If you cannot find any, then you or the previous owner may have failed to do scheduled periodic maintenance.

Next, inspect the condition of the fluid. Third-party car repair manuals such as Haynes often have fluid diagnosis tables. The AT fluid should not be dark in color, contain particulates, or smell burnt.


The transmission fluid is usually replaced by taking off the transmission fluid pan. Before doing so, purchase a replacement AT filter and gasket set. Also purchase enough of the manufacturer-recommended AT fluid. You may wish to also try a product such as

Bars Leaks Automatic Transmission Repair

However, mind that nothing you add to your transmission will negate the need for a physical repair. I have tested this product several times. If it had an effect on my transmission, it was unnoticeable.


Drain your transmission completely, giving it time to do so. Reinstall the filter, gasket, and pan. Torque bolts according to a Haynes manual in a cross-pattern. If the manual does not call out for a gasket sealer, then a solid high-temperature bearing grease can be lightly applied to prevent leaks. If the gasket was not placed evenly, or bolts were not torqued properly then the pan will leak.

Replace all worn, rusted, and broken bolts with high-quality new bolts from a hardware store such as Ace Hardware.

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Page last modified 31-Dec-12 22:26:20 EST

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