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How To Check The Transmission Fluid On A Ford F150: Step By Step Guide

How To Check The Transmission Fluid On A Ford F150: Step By Step Guide

Checking your transmission fluid on an F150 can be highly complex if you do not know what you are doing, at least with the newer models. The models before 2010 are straightforward to check because they were designed with backyard mechanics in mind.

Even though the owner’s manuals on the newer models state that you have to have your transmission fluid checked and replaced by a professional mechanic, you can do it yourself no problem.

If you prefer to pass the task on to an automotive shop, you can stop reading now. If you want to learn how to do this simple task, keep reading because both types will be discussed in detail.

Warm Your F150 Up To Operating Temperatures

The best time to check your transmission fluid is after you have been on a trip farther than the closest grocery store. Even though the dipstick will have a line for cold fluid levels, you do not want to fall for it. If the truck has been running already, you can move on to the next step.

  • If your F150 is cold and has been sitting for a while, you will want to start it up and let it get up to operating temperature.
  • If you need to go on an errand, this would be a great time to do so.
  • Otherwise, wait until the temperature gauge reads normal.
  • This could take up to 15 minutes, depending on your engine and the year it was built.

Here’s a video walk-through with more info below:

Shift Through All The Gears Three Times Slowly

When you start the truck, the transmission fluid will be pooled up in the transmission pan. Once the engine roars to life, the liquid will begin to warm up to the point of being slightly runny instead of thick, like when it is cold.

This is why it is so important to warm the F150 up before you attempt to check the fluid levels.

  • You should still be sitting inside your truck. If not, climb behind the steering wheel and push down on the brake.
  • Once the brake is completely down, you will want to slowly shift and stop in each gear. Go slow through every gear until you get back to park.

Repeat this two more times, slowly. This allows the gears inside the transmission to open up slightly, allowing the fluid to flow through the gears. If you do not do this, you could easily get a false reading on the transmission dipstick.

Place Your Ford F150 Into Neutral

Many people think this is an old tale passed down through the generations. The argument will rage on because many people today say it can also be in park. There is no set rule in place, so do whatever you feel is the correct way, but never have it in drive or reverse.

  • Before letting off the brake, you should automatically set the parking brake, no matter which gear you have selected to use.
  • Before getting out of the truck, you must be on a flat surface, like a level driveway.
  • The fluid needs to be sitting in the pan without being angled in one direction or the other.

If this is impossible because you live on a mountain or hillside, you can put some wheel blocks behind the tires and jack up the side facing downhill. Do not ever work on a vehicle while jacked up unless you have the frame resting on top of some sturdy jack stands.

Where Is The Transmission Dipstick In Ford F150s Before 2010?

The older Ford trucks made it easy on all of you. Once you are out of the truck (you put the emergency brake on, right?), lift the hood up and ensure it is secure before sticking your head underneath.

Older trucks have the reputation of falling on top of your head due to worn-out hinges. Always think about safety first when working around a vehicle.

After the hood is secured, look towards the engine’s left side (passenger side) and find the dipstick that goes back into the transmission. (source) This is the one that you are looking for. You may have to get in front of the left fender to see, and it is a good idea to have a small step stool so you can get to it without climbing into the engine compartment.

Post-2010 Ford F150s Hide The Transmission Dipstick

In 2015 the Ford Motor Company decided to make a simple task nearly impossible. If you look online or at the owner’s manual, you will see that they suggest only a certified mechanic check your transmission fluid. This may be the easiest way for you to go, but there is a way around this issue.

  • If you climb underneath your Ford F150, you will see a plate designed to contain heat.
  • The heat shield needs to be removed, revealing a small bolt going into the side of the transmission pan.
  • Remove it, and you will find a dipstick on the inner side of it.
  • Not the most accessible location to get to a dipstick, but it allows you to do it yourself without the expense of a mechanic.

How Do You Properly Read The Transmission Dipstick

Checking the transmission fluid on the end of a dipstick is not as simple as it may seem. If you are not careful, you will get a bad reading which may make you think that you have too much fluid in the transmission. This is caused by the transmission fluid splashing up the side of the dipstick’s hole.

  • You need to remove the stick and wipe all the fluid off with a clean rag or paper towel.
  • After it is clean, look at the fluid mark and slide it back into place.

Count to ten and remove the dipstick once again, making sure you pull it straight out. Now, look at the fluid levels and see if you need to add more or change it for some fresh fluids.


That is all that there is to it. Make sure that you remember that your Ford F150 is hot, so be careful not to get any burns on yourself, especially if you have to climb under the truck to get to the dipstick.

You also must remember that checking the transmission fluid on your vehicle can be a simple process or one that has you throwing tools across the shop. Take your time, be safety conscious, and check your transmission fluid levels.

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