You know you’re supposed to check your car’s fluid levels occasionally and you’re trying to be a responsible car owner. But, no matter where you look, you can’t seem to find the transmission dipstick.

First, before you assume anything, check the owners manual: A lot of manufacturers seem to take great delight in hiding those dipsticks from everyone. Sometimes you even have to remove an engine shield or air cleaner housing to find it. But, in many cases today, there is no dipstick for the transmission. It’s just no longer something they include. That doesn’t mean the transmission fluid doesn’t need to be checked; it means the manufacturer doesn’t trust you to check it properly.

See, today’s transmissions use very specific types of transmission fluids. Adding the wrong fluid can damage the transmission. The manufacturers know this, and they’ve decided it’s better if you leave checking and adding transmission fluid to a trained technician, like the ones at your nearby Cottman center.

The procedure for checking the transmission fluid now requires that they bring the fluid to a specific temperature range and then open a fluid level port, down on the transmission case. If the fluid level is okay, some of the fluid should dribble out of the port. If no fluid dribbles out, they’re supposed to add fluid until it does. It’s a little more involved and time consuming than a dipstick, but it was the only way the manufacturers could make sure the person checking and adding fluid was familiar with the procedure and knew what type of oil to use.

The technicians at your local Cottman center will be happy to check your transmission oil level for you, and they’ll add what it needs or let you know whether the fluid is due to be changed. Give them a call and set up a time that’s convenient for both of you.