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No Transmission Dipstick

On most of the newer cars there is no transmission dipstick and therefore there is no way for the consumer to check the condition or the level of the automatic transmission fluid and also there is no way for the consumer to add fluid or transmission additives. Is there a way around taking the vehicle to a dealer or a mechanic?

You don’t say what year/model vehicle you’re asking about. But you could try searching on YouTube for a video about “transmission fluid 2012 honda civic”, for example, and some has probably posted a video showing how to do so on your vehicle.

jesmed1: I currently have a 2013 Kia Sportage LX with a 2.4L I-4, but I had the same thing on a 2006 Chevrolet HHR LS.

I haven’t seen your particular car, but there should be a “fill” plug on the side of the transmission case. Don’t remove the “drain” plug on the bottom of the case unless you want all the fluid to pour out in you!

To check fluid level/condition, park on a level surface. Set the brake. Remove the “fill” plug on the side of the transmission case, not the “drain” plug in the bottom! Stick your finger into the hole. Feel around for fluid, which should be level with the lower edge of the hole. Inspect color/smell of fluid on your finger. Reinstall plug.

If you want to add fluid, that’s harder.


For several years now, Benz has had automatic transmissions with no dipstick, no dipstick tube, and no “fill” plug on the side of the case

You drain from the bottom. Then you remove the pan, replace the filter and gasket. Then you use a machine to fill from the bottom. The fluid is checked from the bottom, at a certain temperature.

I left out a few minor details, by the way

As far as I know, some Toyota transmissions are also the same way. A home mechanic could service them, if he buys a device which can force atf into the transmission, under pressure, with the appropriate adapters.

I’m not second guessing you

I’m just saying that some manufacturers really don’t make it easy

My last two F150’s don’t have a dip stick. I think it’s idiotic. They had to repair my 2011 because of that.

Some transmissions have a stand pipe.

You remove the drain plug and the stand pipe indicates if there’s enough transmission fluid. If a little dribbles out there’s enough fluid. If nothing comes out the fluid’s low. And as mentioned, you need a method to pump the transmission fluid up the stand pipe until fluid runs out.

But this is even better. Some manufacturers have a spec that indicates if the transmission fluid needs servicing. You hook a scanner up and compare the temperature of the fluid relative to the pressure. If it’s out of spec, then the fluid is replaced with tranny fluid exchange machine.


db4690 & EK Hammer: I guess putting ATF or an additive in yourself is out of the question. In the volume the car manufacturers are dealing with, they are probably saving about $1.00 per car. I, personally, would gladly pay the extra $1.00 for the engine safety.

The manufactures are saving much more than a dollar on warranty claims by keeping out the additives, dirt and unnecessary fluid.

Filling to the proper level is done a specific temperatures to get the level correct. On your transmission I believe it is 122F to 140F. The amateurs at the local oil change facility have no business checking or adding fluid/additives. The absence of a transmission dipstick will prevent problems when your vehicle is in for service.

Nevada_545: What you are saying would be true except for one thing. The automaker puts clauses in the warranty that state that certain changes to the engine will void the warranty, they could easily state that additives void the warranty. The presence of a dipstick enables the consumer to AVOID warranty claims by ensuring fluid is at the proper level. By your logic, the oil dipstick should be removed also.

Maybe the manufactures are keeping some people from adding those additives to the trams, but they have eliminated the chance for people to check the level. Many people would like to maintain those things and at least see if it’s low.
How would a person know if there was a leak other than a puddle below the car. We all know some seals only leak when the car is under load and moving. So no puddle would be present.

Next they will have sealed Power stearing pumps, etc…


On all automatic transmissions I am familiar with that have no dipstick or fill tube it is necessary that the engine be running to remove the side plug when checking/adding fluid. If the engine is not running a considerable amount of fluid will be lost unless the fluid level is significantly low.


Many people would like to maintain those things and at least see if it's low.
I'm going to disagree here only in that many,many more people don't even want to open the hood much less touch those oily things under there.

You’re right, @PvtPublic; But, I didn’t say the majority…I said many

I have yet to own a car without a transmission dipstick, but couldn’t you just insert a rubber tube attached to a funnel and let gravity do the filling?

I have yet to own a car without a transmission dipstick, but couldn’t you just insert a rubber tube attached to a funnel and let gravity do the filling?

Attach the rubber hose to WHAT? The transmission with no dipstick are SEALED.

My Pontiac doesn’t have a dipstick and has a fill plug somewhere around the axle that is a mystery to find. Last time I just went to the trans shop that does my service and they checked it for no charge. Most people never check it themselves so just one more thing to just swing by and have it checked. I don’t know. I was a surprised but once you get used to the idea its no big thing.

I don’t think any AT is going to go bad under warrantee if the fluid is not checked. The problem really occurs long after the warrantee is up. A conscientious owner may get a lifetime out of the AT by regularly changing the ATF and monitoring its level and condition where someone who ignores the ATF may only get 150k or less.

The problem with removing the dipstick really affects those of us who do take care of our vehicles, it removes an option for us or makes it really difficult to check.

Rod Knox

The later Benz automatic transmission don’t have a side plug

Sorry, but with those models, they really made it somewhat challenging to do a transmission fluid service, let alone check the fluid level properly

On a recent episode of Wheeler Dealers, Ed fixed up a Boxster and serviced the Tiptronic transmission. They showed him changing the trans fluid and it was quite complicated. On the Boxster you have to fill the trans in three consecutive stages. You can’t just fill it up once and put the plug in. Glad I have an old Honda!