In modern cars, you may or may not be able to check the automatic transmission fluid, but most still allow you to check the manual transmission fluid. In the old days autos had a dipstick and manual trannys didn’t. If you want the privilege of rowing through your own gears, you’ll have to work a little bit to check your fluid. Many modern automatics are “sealed for life” and “require no maintenance” and thus don’t have a dipstick like they used to.
Manual transmission typically have two plugs on them; one on the side for checking and filling and one on the bottom for draining. Bonus tip: don’t remove the drain plug without first removing the check/fill plug. If you can’t get the fill plug out to refill your trans, you’re up a creek without a paddle, ask me how I know!
To check the fluid, remove the check/fill plug. If the transmission is full, it should be at or just below the plug. To drain the fluid, leave the check/fill plug out and remove the drain plug. Leaving the check/fill plug out will let it drain a little faster. Once you get all old scungy fluid out, reinstall the drain plug and fill it through the check/fill hole until fluid begins to run out. If you have space, you can just stick the tip of the bottle in and squeeze. Most vehicles don’t afford you the space to make it easy (when do they ever?!) so you will probably need a pump. Install the fill plug and go for a test drive! Every automotive accomplishment deserves a test drive, preferably with a special someone. Also, ice cream is always a good idea.