Q: 1998 Benz ML320 - how to check transmission oil level

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How do I check the automatic transmission oil level? What kind of ATF should I use? (Looks, smells like Dexron II or III . Certainly don't want to use "official" Mercedes ATF at about $50.00/quart!) There's a tube that goes down into the transmission at the right rear of the engine. Goes up to about the same level as the top of the valve cover - has a rubber cap that says "MB workshop use". If I take it off, there's an "o"-ring that seals the cover into the metal tube (about 5/8" ID tube) but no dipstick. I assume that's the oil-level check and fill tube...right? Can I improvise a dipstick? How long should I make it? (Should be able to use a thin coathanger or some 1/4" wide sheet metal). Car won't shift into any gear but makes a slight attempt to move (backwards) when shifted into reverse.

My car has 175000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Mercedes stopped including dipsticks on their cars when they switched to electronically controlled transmissions. One of the reasons was to discourage the owners from doing just what you are trying to do. The transmission fluid is unique, and adding dexron or other generic fluid can really foul things up. There are a few fluids that can substitute for the Mercedes factory fluid, but they are not cheap either. You can go to the Mercedes parts department and buy a workshop dipstick that will enable you to check the fluid but it is very long and doesn’t stay in the tube the way they used to, you just hang it up in your garage. Additionally, you will need a method of monitoring the transmission temperature when you check or add fluid, this is usually done with the scan tool. If you decide you’d rather have a professional do this for you, you can contact Your Mechanic to have a technician come to your home or office and service your automatic transmission for you.

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