Most drivers are familiar with their car’s overdrive light which turns on when the car is in overdrive, but can having low transmission fluid cause it to flash?
Low transmission fluid can cause your overdrive light to flash. Your transmission requires a sufficient amount of fluid to work properly, especially in the case of switching into the overdrive gear, so not having enough of will cause the overdrive light to flash.
The overdrive light is just one of the many lights that you might see come on in your car, and the stress that can come from some new light on the dashboard turning on can be overwhelming.
However, as long as you know what it means and how you can the address the problem, a lot of the stress from the situation can melt away. Read on to learn more about what you can do.
What Is Overdrive?
Before getting into all the details of what might cause the overdrive light to flash, it is helpful to understand what overdrive is in the first place.
Overdrive is essentially a higher gear that can be engaged when a vehicle reaches highway speeds. By adding an additional higher gear to the transmission, the vehicle can continue to drive along at sustained high speeds while reducing the engine’s RPMs.
This is beneficial for a lot of reasons. Since the engine is running at lower RPMs, fuel economy is increased as well, allowing you to go faster for longer and reducing the amount you’ll spend gas during long trips.
In addition, running at lower RPMs is less stressful on the engine, reducing the amount of wear and tear that takes its toll on an engine as it runs.
Traditionally, in cars with manual transmissions, the overdrive gear is simply the top available gear and must be engaged by the driver, usually quickly after getting on the highway and accelerating to the appropriate speed.
However, in newer cars with automatic transmissions, the overdrive gear is engaged by the car’s engine control unit when it thinks that it is appropriate.
When this top overdrive gear is engaged, the overdrive light will come on to inform the driver that the car is currently in overdrive and will turn off when the overdrive gear is disengaged.
Can Having Low Transmission Fluid Cause The Overdrive Light To Flash?
While a flashing overdrive light could signal the existence of any number of problems with a vehicle’s transmission, having low transmission fluid could absolutely be the cause.
Transmission fluid is incredibly important in making sure that the transmission can continue to run properly. Transmission fluid lubricates all of the complicated moving parts in the transmission and applies hydraulic pressure that allows all of these internal parts to work.
If transmission fluid levels are too low, it could cause all of these transmission components to be insufficiently lubricated and overheat.
Low transmission fluid levels could also prevent sufficient hydraulic pressure from building up to make the transmission work.
Either of these issues could easily prevent your transmission from being able to engage the overdrive gear, and in turn, cause your overdrive light to start flashing.
What Should You Do If Your Overdrive Light Starts Flashing?
If the overdrive light in your vehicle starts flashing, you should try to get your car into an auto repair shop as soon as possible.
No matter whether it’s an issue of low transmission fluid, a bad solenoid, or any other issue, there is no doubt that if that light is flashing, there is something wrong with your transmission which needs to be addressed immediately.
Transmission issues are not to be ignored, as the transmission is an incredibly important part of your car. Continuing to drive on a bad transmission only risks doing a lot more damage to your vehicle.
Without sufficient transmission fluid, the internal components won’t be sufficiently lubricated and won’t be able to provide sufficient hydraulic pressure.
This can cause the internal components in the transmission to overheat, warp, and break, which is something that at the very least will lead to incredibly costly repairs and at worst could total the car altogether.
How Can You Tell If Having Low Transmission Fluid Is Causing Your Overdrive Light To Flash?
As stated before, there are other reasons that your overdrive light could start flashing, so how do you know if having low transmission fluid is truly the problem?
While you shouldn’t need to change your transmission fluid more than once every 50,000 miles or so, transmission fluid leaks could easily cause your transmission fluid levels to drop unexpectedly.
If you notice there are some strange oily-looking puddles under your parked car, this is the first indication of a leak and it is the easiest way to tell if low transmission fluid is causing the problem.
However, if you don’t see any visible leaks to get fixed, getting your car into an auto repair shop where a mechanic can run a diagnostics test, is the best thing to do. The diagnostics test will show exactly what the problem is, allowing you and the mechanic to properly remedy whatever the issue is.
Key Takeaways to If Low Transmission Fluid Can Cause the Overdrive Light to Flash
Having low transmission fluid can cause your vehicle’s overdrive light to start flashing.
Overdrive is the top gear of a transmission that allows you to travel at high speeds while at lower RPMs.
A flashing overdrive light could signal a variety of different transmission issues.
If your overdrive light starts flashing, you should take your vehicle to an auto repair shop to get it inspected and fixed as soon as possible.