what are symptoms of low auto transmission fluid?
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Thread: what are symptoms of low auto transmission fluid?

  1. #1
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    what are symptoms of low auto transmission fluid?

    As the title says, I am very curious what happens if automatic tranny's fluid level is a little low. From reading various threads about changing tranny fluid (fluid temperature has to be in a certain range, the car has to be perfectly level with the ground and etc), it seems that correct fluid level is very important. Is there any symptoms you can feel if your car has a little low tranny fluid?
    Thanks.

    Yong
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  3. #2
    PZ
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    You might get harsh initial gear engagement,harsh downshifting and slipping during hard cornering. That's what happened to me when the body shop changed my trans pan and did not filll it properly.

  4. #3
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    When it is really low, you get a slurping sound - seriously. The pumps are trying to draw fluid thur. You may find this out when refilling your trans.

  5. #4
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    My old car had a leaky transmission seal, and this caused the fluid to drain out. The way I noticed, was when I would put the car in D,P, or R, there would be a delay of a few seconds before the gear was actually engaged. Also, as PZ mentioned, there was some slipping taking off from a stop. Overall, all shifting was harsh.

  6. #5
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    My auto A4 would hold gear at red line. It would shift slow. It ended up being only slightly low.

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    ... warranty issue

    i purchased a cert used 2001.5 GLX, and i'm still under my 24000 2yr bumper to bumper, i had these symptoms a while back, about 6mo ago, i took it in and they said there was nothing wrong. when i got it back it worked well... so i'm wondering if it was low and they just refilled it...???? If so, how would that effect the overall health of the transmission? I drove it with that problem for about 2 weeks max, before i took it in. ???

    --aaron

  8. #7
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    After buying a GLX and thinking the transmission was shot and needed to be rebuilt, I found out it was just 3 quarts low on tranny fluid.
    The symptoms where:
    sketchy gear shifting, up and down, but very intermittent. Gear ratios.

    From what I've been told changing the fluid is very difficult and requires precise temperature, level, etc. Just my two cents.

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by popwarfour View Post
    From what I've been told changing the fluid is very difficult and requires precise temperature, level, etc. Just my two cents.
    The first time, maybe. Like anything, once you know the routine and have all the equipment, not difficult at all. Getting the car on four jack stands is the hardest part. I checked/topped up our Passat a couple of weeks ago (added about 1 cup of ATF), took maybe 10 minutes after the car was lifted.

  10. #9
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    It isn't difficult, and the thing about the temperature? Either BS, or I got lucky. My friends and I did it with a hose and a kitchen funnel above the car on 4 jackstands when we did my trans pan gasket. (DAMN those things get to leaking like crazy). The car shifts smoother than it ever has before, and it gets into first gear effortlessly. You can do it yourself without a temp gauge or VAG-Com, its pretty easy. Though, it's a really dumb design, not having the dipstick.

  11. #10
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    just wondering if the trany slips at 3rd gear and goes in to limpmode could it be becouse of low atf? i just got it serviced and the trany gut said he put in 4 or 5 qts of atf. and my trany still slps in 3rd gear and goes into limp mode.

  12. #11
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    Since this old ass thread has been bumped somewhat recently, I'll bump again

    I notice a sound when the car is first run in the mornings, and it's more pronounced when it's cold out. For the first mile or so of driving in the mornings (and afternoons if it's sat long enough and is ~40* or less) I hear what I can describe only as a sound that makes me think something is low on fluid. Oil and power steering both are perfect, so it leaves me to think the trans is slightly low. It's a 2004 1.8 FWD tip. Would it be in my best interest to put it on jack stands and take a look? If so, would it be okay to check if it sits in the garage overnight and hasn't been running, or would I need to run it some before checking? It shifts fine and doesn't slip, although when I shift into R or D it does seem to take a second to engage.

  13. #12
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    ^ is it only on startup? Is it coming from the engine bay, cause it could be CCTs

  14. #13
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    I can't pinpoint the exact source, but it's only when the car moves when cold, and does fluctuate with RPMs. The higher the RPMs, the higher pitched the sound. It doesn't get loud, but it is audible until a mile or couple miles, depending on how cold it is outside. It's almost like when you remove the cap on the steering fluid when the car's running (sucking air into the system).

    I didn't think about the CCT, that could be the culprit as well, though there's no rattling sound. When I had the CCT gasket changed last summer all looked well there and seemed to pump up fine. I've had this noise since well before that, so I don't know which way to go at this point.

  15. #14
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    I mean, the CCT is more like a clakety-clakety sound, so it may not be that, but when it's happening, open your hood and see if the sound originates towards the back of the engine, if not...not CCTs.

  16. #15
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    I'd check it. If you don't have a way to monitor trans temp through the diagnostic port, then run the car for a mile or so first, because the fluid and transmission should be warm before checking. Put it up on your jack stands, adjust so the car is level. You'll need a 17mm hex tool to remove the check/fill plug, and a way to add fluid. A simple method is to make a hole in the plastic cap of an ATF container; I used a soldering iron to produce a smooth, melted edge. Then fit a clear hose of about 1/4" ID so it reaches the bottom of the container, with a couple of feet sticking out of the container. Start your engine, slide under and put a drip pan beneath the check fill opening at the very back of the pan. Unscrew the plug, and if fluid drips right out and keeps dribbling, there is already enough. However if nothing comes out, stick the hose up into the opening, being careful to fit it through a slot in the plastic deflector at the top. Squeeze the ATF container to dispense fluid untill you get a steady flow running out, put the plug back in, then shut the engine off.

    Now keep in mind that this is about 90% of the work for a basic fluid change. If you have more than 40K miles since the last one, you might as well do a change. You can expect to use a little over six quarts of your prefered ATF (Valvoline MaxLife Dex/Merc is what I use).

  17. #16
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    Cool, thanks for the advice, guys. I had the fluid flushed at somewhere in the 65k-70k mile mark, and have anout 102k on it now. I guess it wouldn't hurt to just drain and fill since I'll be going through the same steps anyway. I may as well make it count. I was just going to do another drop/filter/drain/fill once I had 60k miles on it (doing it every 60k seemed like a good plan), but it seems to need attention now. If I do only the drain/fill, should I still get 6 quarts or is that only with the full monty?

    Oh, and would I need to replace the o-rings on drain and fill plugs, and if so anyone know the part numbers? I'm guessing dealer would be best place to get anyways.

  18. #17
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    Every 50k I usually do a drain/refill....which equated to about 4-5 quarts...simply by removing the drain plug. once it stops coming out, put the plug back in and push as much fluid into the fill hole as possible. When THAT starts to drain out, turn the car on and you can usually fit another quart.
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  19. #18
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    I'd count on the full 6 quarts, and believe that letting it drain overnight will allow the torque converter to empty as much as it can.

    I have always reused the O-rings, mainly because I haven't thought to get new ones in advance, but no leaks yet. The original plugs shouldn't need replacing unless really corroded or something.

  20. #19
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    Just checked and it was "flushed" (not literally, just the term I'll use for what was done) at 71k miles, so I may just buy a quart/liter and add as much as I can, then plan to do the drain refill later on. Thanks for all the input.

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