When it comes to car maintenance, the check engine light can be a source of anxiety for many drivers. It can be difficult to know what the problem is, especially if you’re not familiar with the inner workings of your car. One common issue that can cause the check engine light to come on is low transmission fluid.
Transmission fluid is a vital component of your car’s transmission system. It helps to lubricate the moving parts and keep everything running smoothly. When the fluid level gets too low, it can cause a variety of problems, including slipping gears, delayed gear engagement, and irregular shifting. These issues can trigger the check engine light, alerting you to the fact that something is wrong.
If you notice that your check engine light has come on, it’s important to take it seriously. Ignoring the problem could lead to more serious issues down the line.
Checking your transmission fluid level is a good place to start. If the level is low, topping it off could solve the problem. However, if the light continues to stay on, it’s best to take your car to a mechanic to have it checked out.
Can Low Transmission Fluid Trigger the Check Engine Light?
Yes, it is possible for low transmission fluid to trigger the check engine light. In a car with an automatic transmission, low fluid levels can cause disruptions in shifting or slipping, which can lead to the check engine light coming on.
However, it’s important to realise that the check engine light can also be triggered by a variety of other issues, including faulty sensors, damaged catalytic converters, or even a loose gas cap. Therefore, if the check engine light does come on, it’s important to have it diagnosed in order to rule out other causes
There are other signs of low transmission fluid that are common, and often occur without a check engine light. These include slipping gears, difficulty shifting gear, or unusual noises.
One way to prevent low transmission fluid levels is to regularly check and maintain the fluid level. Most manufacturers recommend checking the fluid level every 30,000 to 60,000 miles, depending on the make and model of the vehicle.
Symptoms of Low Transmission Fluid (With A Check Engine Light)
Besides a check engine light, low transmission fluid can cause several common symptoms that can indicate there is a problem with your vehicle’s transmission.
If your car has any of these symptoms, it is important to check the transmission fluid level and top it off if necessary. If the fluid level is consistently low, it may indicate a leak in the transmission system. Ignoring low transmission fluid can lead to further damage to the transmission and other components, so it is important to address the issue as soon as possible.
It’s also worth noting that some of the symptoms of low transmission fluid can also be caused by other problems with your vehicle. For example, difficulty shifting gears can also be caused by a faulty transmission valve body.
Here are some common symptoms in greater detail:
Symptom 1. Gear Slippage
Low transmission fluid can cause gear slippage. The transmission fluid is responsible for lubricating the moving parts inside the transmission and providing hydraulic pressure to engage the gears. If the fluid level is low, it can cause the transmission to slip out of gear, resulting in a loss of power and acceleration.
When the transmission slips out of gear, the engine may rev higher than normal, but the vehicle will not accelerate as expected. This can be dangerous, especially when driving at high speeds or on steep inclines.
In addition to gear slippage, low transmission fluid can also cause delayed shifting, rough shifting, and transmission noise.
Symptom 2. Delayed Shifting
Another symptom of low transmission fluid is delayed gear shifting. The transmission fluid is responsible for providing hydraulic pressure to the transmission system, which helps to engage and disengage the gears.
When the fluid level is low, there may not be enough pressure to properly engage the gears, which can result in delayed shifting. This can cause your vehicle to hesitate or jerk when shifting, or it may take longer for the gears to engage.
In some cases, the transmission may even slip out of gear, which can be dangerous while driving.
Symptom 3. Overheating
Low transmission fluid can cause overheating in your vehicle’s transmission system. Transmission fluid is responsible for lubricating and cooling the moving parts of the transmission system.
When the fluid level is low, the transmission system can overheat, which can cause damage to the internal components of the transmission system.
Overheating can also cause the transmission to slip, which can result in poor performance and reduced fuel efficiency. This can cause the gears to shift roughly or jerkily, especially when shifting from a lower to a higher gear and can cause a jolting sensation in the vehicle.
Symptom 4. Rough Shifting
If there isn’t enough transmission fluid this can cause rough shifting. The transmission fluid is responsible for lubricating and cooling the moving parts of the transmission system.
When the fluid level is low, the transmission system can overheat, which can cause damage to the internal components of the transmission system. This damage can lead to rough shifting, which can cause your vehicle to jerk or hesitate when shifting. In some cases, the transmission may even slip out of gear causing damage to the transmission itself
Symptom 5. Transmission Noise
A very common symptom of low transmission fluid is transmission noise. Transmission fluid is responsible for lubricating the moving parts inside the transmission, reducing friction and preventing wear and tear.
If the fluid level is low, it can cause the transmission to make unusual noises, such as whining, buzzing, or humming sounds.
The noise may be more noticeable when the vehicle is in gear or when the transmission is under load. It can also be accompanied by the other common symptoms such as gear slippage, delayed shifting, or rough shifting.
In addition to low fluid, transmission noise can also be caused by worn or damaged transmission parts, such as gears, bearings, or synchronizers.
If you suspect that your car is experiencing transmission noise due to low fluid, it is recommended to check the fluid level and top it off if necessary.
However, if the noise persists after adding fluid, it may indicate a more serious issue that requires professional attention. Ignoring transmission noise can lead to further damage to the transmission and other components, so it is important to address the issue as soon as possible.
What Next – How to Fix Low Transmission Fluid Level With A Check Engine Light
Checking your transmission fluid level is an important part of vehicle maintenance. Here are the steps to follow:
- Start your car and let it run for a few minutes to warm up the transmission fluid.
- Locate the transmission dipstick. The dipstick is usually labeled and located near the engine, but refer to your owner’s manual if you can’t find it.
- Remove the dipstick, wipe it clean with a cloth, and reinsert it fully.
- Remove the dipstick again and check the fluid level. The fluid should be between the “full” and “low” or “fill” marks on the dipstick.
- If the fluid level is low, add transmission fluid a little at a time until it reaches the correct level. Be sure to use the type of fluid recommended in your owner’s manual.
- Reinsert the dipstick and make sure it is fully seated.
- Turn off the engine and close the hood.
It’s important to check your transmission fluid regularly, especially if you notice any signs of low fluid levels or other transmission problems. If you’re not comfortable checking the fluid yourself, you can always take your car to a mechanic or auto parts store for assistance.
How to Fix Low Transmission Fluid
If you suspect that your check engine light is on due to low transmission fluid, it is important to take immediate action to prevent further damage to your vehicle. Here are some steps you can take to fix low transmission fluid:
- Check the fluid levels: The first step is to check the fluid levels. Locate the transmission dipstick under the hood of your car and check the level of the fluid. If the level is low, add more fluid. Be careful not to overfill.
- Inspect for leaks: If the fluid level is consistently low, you may have a leak in your transmission system. Inspect the transmission system for leaks and repair any leaks found.
- Flush the transmission system: Flushing the transmission system can help remove any contaminants that may be causing problems. A transmission flush involves draining the old fluid and replacing it with new fluid.
- Replace the transmission filter: The transmission filter helps keep the fluid clean and free of contaminants. Over time, the filter can become clogged and may need to be replaced.
It is important to keep in mind that fixing low transmission fluid may not always solve the problem. If the check engine light continues to stay on, it may be a sign of a more serious issue with your transmission system. In this case, it is best to take your car to a professional mechanic for further inspection and repair.
1. Will low transmission fluid throw a code
Yes, sometimes low transmission fluid can cause an engine fault code to be stored in the ECU. However, not all vehicles are programmed to detect low transmission fluid levels and may not throw a code.
Modern vehicles are equipped with sensors that monitor various aspects of the transmission system, including fluid levels and temperatures. If the fluid level is low, the sensor may detect this and trigger a fault code to be stored in the vehicle’s computer system. The specific code that is stored will depend on the make and model of the vehicle. Common codes include:
P0700 – Transmission Control System Malfunction
P0730 – Incorrect Gear Ratio
P0741 – Torque Converter Clutch Circuit Performance or Stuck Off
P0750 – Shift Solenoid A Malfunction
P0755 – Shift Solenoid B Malfunction
P0760 – Shift Solenoid C Malfunction
P0765 – Shift Solenoid D Malfunction
P0780 – Shift Malfunction
2. How does a car act when it needs transmission fluid?
When a car needs transmission fluid, it may exhibit several symptoms such as
gear slippage, delayed shifting, overheating, rough shifting, transmission noise and a warning light may flash on the dashboard.
Low transmission fluid can cause the transmission to slip out of gear, resulting in a loss of power and acceleration or the engine may rev higher than normal, resulting in poor fuel economy.
The transmission can also overheat, which can cause damage to the transmission and other components. You may also experience jolting or strange whining or buzzing sounds.