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## Transmission Fluid Checking: Engine Running vs. Stationary


Transmission fluid is essential for the proper functioning of your vehicle’s transmission system. It lubricates moving parts, cools the transmission, and helps transfer power from the engine to the wheels. Regular monitoring of transmission fluid levels is crucial to prevent transmission damage and ensure optimal performance. However, there is some debate on whether it’s necessary to have the engine running while checking the transmission fluid. This article will delve into the topic, exploring the advantages and disadvantages of both methods.

### Checking Transmission Fluid with Engine Running


More accurate reading: When the engine is running, the transmission is circulating the fluid, which allows for a more precise reading of the fluid level.
Warmed-up fluid: The transmission fluid is warmed up when the engine is running, which makes it flow more easily and provides a more accurate measurement.
Circulation of fluid: Having the engine running ensures that the fluid is circulating throughout the transmission system, including the torque converter. This allows for a more comprehensive check.


Safety hazard: It can be dangerous to work around a running engine. Proper safety precautions must be taken to avoid injury.
Potential for overheating: If the engine is running for an extended period, the transmission fluid may overheat, affecting the accuracy of the reading.

### Checking Transmission Fluid with Engine Stationary


Safety: There is no safety risk involved, as the engine is turned off.
Convenience: This method is more convenient as it can be done without starting the vehicle.
Less chance of overheating: The transmission fluid is not subjected to heat generated by the running engine, reducing the risk of overheating.

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Less accurate: The fluid level may not be as precise since the transmission is not circulating the fluid.
Cold fluid: The transmission fluid is cold when the engine is not running, which can affect the flow and accuracy of the reading.

### Recommended Method

Generally, it is recommended to check the transmission fluid with the engine running. This provides a more accurate reading and allows for a more comprehensive check of the fluid level. However, if safety concerns or convenience is a priority, checking the fluid with the engine stationary is acceptable.

### Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Gather Materials:
Rags or paper towels
Transmission fluid dipstick or fluid level checker

2. Locate Dipstick or Fluid Level Checker:
Open the hood and locate the transmission dipstick or fluid level checker.
It is usually a brightly colored handle with a loop or hook on the end.

3. Pull Out and Inspect:
Pull out the dipstick or fluid level checker and use a rag or paper towel to wipe off any excess fluid.
Examine the fluid for color, smell, and any metal shavings or debris.

4. Check Fluid Level:
With the engine running (for a more accurate reading) or stationary, reinsert the dipstick or fluid level checker.
Pull it out again and observe the level of fluid on the dipstick or the indicator markings on the fluid level checker.

5. Add Fluid if Necessary:
If the fluid level is below the specified markers or lines, you will need to add transmission fluid.
Consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the correct type and amount of fluid.
Use a funnel to pour the fluid into the transmission dipstick tube.

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6. Recheck Fluid Level:
Reinsert and remove the dipstick or fluid level checker to verify that the fluid level is now within the specified range.

### Safety Precautions

Allow the engine and transmission to cool down before checking the fluid.
Wear gloves and eye protection when working around transmission fluid.
Avoid touching hot engine or transmission components.
Keep the engine running at idle speed when checking the fluid with the engine running.
Never overfill the transmission fluid reservoir.

### Conclusion

Whether to check the transmission fluid with the engine running or stationary depends on the specific vehicle and circumstances. While checking the fluid with the engine running provides a more accurate reading, safety and convenience may be important factors to consider. By following the recommended method and safety precautions, you can ensure that your vehicle’s transmission system has the correct amount and quality of fluid for optimal performance and longevity.

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