What Color is Transmission Fluid?

You are probably wondering what color is transmission fluid, because that’s a pretty important detail you can’t overlook when maintaining your transmission. How else are you going to tell the transmission fluid apart from all the other fluids in your car? Besides the transmission fluid there’s the engine oil, the coolant, the brake fluid. the powering steering fluid, and also the windshield washer fluid. You don’t want to mistake one type of fluid for another do you? That can lead to some pretty serious disasters down the road, like if you were to put engine oil in the transmission reservoir. Lord have mercy, we wouldn’t want that! Well, get on with it then man, what color is transmission fluid?

What Color is Transmission Fluid?

The truth is transmission fluid can be a variety of colors. Nowadays, transmission fluid can be found in different colors such as green, yellow, or blue — although it’s not quite as common. However, the overwhelming majority of transmission fluid is a bright translucent pinkish red, and that is what you will see most commonly. That’s only if it’s new though, colors can vary depending on age and condition as well. As fluid begins to age, it will start to collect contaminants and other unwanted materials which leads to a darker color. Fluid could range anywhere from a bright red to dark red to brown to black. The darker the fluid looks, the more it’s warning you that it needs to be changed.

**Note that anti-freeze and windshield wiper fluid can also be red, so be aware!**

What Color is Healthy Transmission Fluid?

As we have discussed, new transmission fluid is a vibrant pinkish red that can be seen through. The reason why transmission fluid is dyed red is so that car owners won’t mistake it for another fluid. So there’s really no special reason why transmission fluid is red other than for identification. However, transmission fluid in running vehicles will usually be a darker red, which is normal and indicates age. But color should not be your only measurement of healthy fluid, smell and consistency are equally important factors that you should take into account. You can read our little tutorial on how to check transmission fluid, which explains everything you should look for in transmission fluid. But for the most part, fluid that is red usually means that it’s healthy and working properly.

What Color is Worn Transmission Fluid?

Transmission fluid that shows a brownish tint indicates that it is old and worn. This color often suggests that it’s been a while since you changed the fluid, and you’ve been packing on a number of miles since. Also, check to make sure the fluid does not smell burnt as this could indicate that there are problems. When you are checking the transmission fluid, a light brown means that you should be thinking of getting it serviced soon, while a color closer to dark brown usually means the fluid is no longer effective and should be changed as soon as possible. We often suggest that you get the fluid changed before it turns into a dark brown, because it’s better to be safe than sorry and you don’t want to take any risks running on worn out fluid. Our recommendation is that you get the fluid changed when it’s light brown, but keep in mind that the color isn’t always the most reliable indicator. Your best sign should be the last time you had the fluid and filter changed. If you drive an automatic vehicle, what happens sometimes is that fluid can still remain in the torque converter even after a fluid change, and the old fluid mixes with the new resulting in a brownish tint. So if you got the fluid changed recently you shouldn’t have anything to worry about, but remember to log the miles down in order to keep track. Most automotive experts recommend getting the fluid changed every 30,000 miles.

What Color is Bad Transmission Fluid?

Finally a color that is black or smells burnt usually means that problems have developed. This is the last thing you want to deal with and you should prevent fluid from ever getting to this stage. Who knows what kinds of problems have already occurred, but if left alone the transmission will fail soon. We suggest getting your car serviced at this point, however there is no guarantee that it can be saved. If failure occurs your only options left are either repair, replacement, or another car altogether, all of which won’t be cheap.

What Color is Transmission Fluid?


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