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Transmission Fluid and Coolant in your Volvo

by All Vovo on 06/10/13

Nearly two years ago we spent time blogging some very important tips on the fluids in your Volvo. These tips actually could be applied to most any car. As part of a car care informational course here at the shop, we used to train people on all of the areas of concern for understanding and maintaining your Volvo. We didn't want to repeat the information because we know you can look back at it, BUT we realized that newer followers to our blog, or social media, might want to be refreshed on some of that information.

We thought we'd start by going over two major fluids that keep your car running smoothly: The coolant, and the automatic transmission fluid. You can find the original posts here: and

Checking your Engine Coolant

Radiator fluid, or coolant, is the most important part of your car's cooling system, which protects your engine from overheating. Low coolant can lead to a breakdown and expensive repairs, so it is important to always keep the coolant level full. A low coolant level will cause engine overheating. We will check this when you bring it in to All Vovo for other services, but this is one area where you have to make sure and keep an eye on it yourself.

Here's how to check the engine fluid level:

Check the level of coolant or antifreeze only when the engine is cold. The coolant level should be between "LOW" and "FULL" marks in the coolant overflow tank. If it's lower, you should add some fluid. If there is no coolant in the overflow tank at all, you should add the coolant into the radiator also. But, you must remember: Never open the radiator cap when the engine is hot!

Another pro tip is that you can check the coolant strength with a coolant test strip. The strips change color to indicate how much life is left in the coolant. IF the coolant is brown or rust-colored, you may need a radiator flush and refill. Most people never consider the effectiveness of the fluid.  If  you like, we can go ahead and check/test this for you when you bring your car in to All Vovo.

Checking Your Automatic Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid is not something that most drivers work with, but if you are concerened about something with your car's shifting, you can do a quick check on the fluid.  We'll of course, handle this for you if you get the car in to us.  If something isn't right, we'll be able to quickly find out what's going on.

Park your car on a level surface. Start the engine. Set the transmission level to the "P" (Parking) position, and let the engine idle (on some cars this process may differ, check the owner's manual for details). Pull the transmission dipstick and dry it with a lint-free clean rag or tissue. Then, set it back carefully all the way down into its place. Pull the dipstick again and check the fluid level. If the engine is cool, it should be at the upper end of the "cold" mark. If the engine is hot, the level should be at the upper end of the "hot" mark. If it reads lower than these respective marks, you should add some automatic transmission fluid.

Check the fluid condition also. If it is too black and has a burnt smell, then your transmission is not going to last. Normally, it should be clean and transparent. Its color may vary from red to brown. Wipe the dipstick with clean white paper and look at the paper. There should be no black deposits, no medal particals, and no dirt left on the paper. If the condition of the fluid looks bad, get your Volvo to us immediately.

This is how to add the transmission fluid: Check the transmission fluid type in the owners manual. For example, some Chrysler transmissions need only a specific type of fluid and regular fluid, like Dexron 3, can even destroy the transmission. Add a little amount of fluid and wait for a minute to let the fluid flow down. Start the engine then check the level again. Add fluid in small amounts as needed.

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