5 Symptoms of Low Transmission Fluid

Checking the oil level and filling windshield washer fluid is pretty easy for most vehicle owners. Topping off the coolant is fairly common, too. Checking the transmission fluid to see if it is low? That is something vehicle owners rarely do.

As the largest component in a vehicle, other than the engine, it would seem like an obvious thing to check, and the fluid inside is essential for proper performance. The problem for a lot of people is the discomfort and intimidation they feel when it comes to transmissions. A vital part of your vehicle, but it doesn’t have to be scary once you understand your role in maintaining it.

The most important thing to remember is not to ignore early warning signs of a problem. No matter how minor they may seem, it’s always better if you have it checked out promptly. Transmission problems never go away; they only get worse—and a lot more expensive- when ignored.

To help “de-mystify” the transmission, you can learn to recognize symptoms that mean your transmission needs the fluid level checked and be more confident when speaking with a transmission specialist about it.

Below are five symptoms of low transmission fluid:

Hard Gear Shifting

Trouble shifting gears, such as a sluggish or delayed response when accelerating can give you a second or two to wonder what is going on and is a clear way of getting your attention. Erratic shifting (earlier or later than it should) or hard, slamming shifts can also be an indication that transmission fluid is low.


If you are hitting the gas and the engine revs, but the transmission doesn’t respond, or is delayed responding, you are experiencing the common issue of the transmission slipping. This symptom often is a result of low transmission fluid that is not allowing the gears to engage properly.


An overheating transmission is to be avoided at all costs and surprisingly is often caused by low transmission fluid levels. Too much heat can quickly deteriorate what fluid remains and, left unchecked, can cause your transmission to fail. Examining the fluid level in time can help prevent the need for a rebuild or replacement transmission.

Fluid Leaks

Transmission fluid leaks are generally easy to spot. The fluid is bright red with a sweet smell and will be visible on the surface underneath your car and in the engine compartment. If the leaking fluid is dark in color and smells burnt, you may have a bigger problem than you want. Burnt fluid can be caused by low transmission fluid levels, and what fluid remains being made to work harder than normal.

Odd Noises

If you hear odd noises coming from the transmission, whether a pounding, grinding, or come other type of clatter, don’t put off having it checked. As with all symptoms your transmission fluid is low, early identification can save your transmission and keep your money in your bank account.

Come in for a TrueTest Inspection

If you are having any of these problems, make an appointment to come in for a free TrueTest Inspection right away. While a damaged transmission cannot be cured by bringing the fluid back to its proper level, it is possible that more fluid is all it needs.

Our transparent and thorough inspection process will give you all the information you need to be confident in the recommendation made by our transmission specialists. Call our Northwest Denver center at 303-647-5257, our Southwest Denver center at 303-816-3856 or contact us online to get started today!

Written by Advanced Transmission Center