A Comprehensive Guide to Auto Fluids By Color

Fluids are crucial to your car, truck, utility vehicle, or van. They do many things, including keep your engine cool and lubricated and work as hydraulics to help your brakes and transmission. York Tire & Auto Service lists automotive fluids by color below so you can identify what fluid is leaking out of your automobile if you have a fluid leak. In some cases, fluid leaks make it dangerous to drive your vehicle.


Black fluid is old and dirty. Brake fluid, gear oil, motor oil, and transmission oil can all turn black if they have oxidized. You should have all of these fluids changed before they turn this color.


Blue fluid is your windshield washing solution. While a leak will not affect your ability to drive your automobile, it will make it impossible to keep your windshield clean on the road.


Blue-green fluid is engine coolant/antifreeze. When this fluid leaks out of your automobile, you run the risk of your engine overheating, even if it is wintertime.


Clear fluid is usually water that is dripping from your automobile’s air conditioner or out of the tailpipe. In rare cases, it could be gasoline. Do not drive your automobile if it is leaking gasoline.

Dark Brown

Dark brown fluid is also a sign that the fluid is dirty. Again, brake fluid, gear oil, motor oil, and transmission fluid all turn dark brown as they get old and dirty.


Green fluid is coolant/antifreeze. One way to tell the color of your engine coolant is to look at the color in the radiator’s overflow reservoir, which is a clear container in the engine.

Light Brown

Light brown fluid is fresh brake fluid, gear oil, or motor oil. Some people describe this color as light yellow or amber. The light color indicates the fluid is new and doing its job.


Orange fluid usually means that your radiator has rust in it. What makes the fluid orange is the rust. Older transmission fluid can also look orange or light brown.


Pink fluid can be engine coolant but it is more likely engine coolant mixed with transmission fluid and this is a very bad sign of a breach between the two systems.


Red fluid is either power steering fluid or transmission oil. These fluids are bright red and translucent when they are new.


Finally, as we mentioned above, new brake fluid can be yellow. The only other fluid in your automobile that might be yellow is your coolant/antifreeze.

York Tire & Auto Service is the best auto service shop in Red Lion, PA, so give us a call today if your automobile is leaking any type of fluid.

Photo by flyingv43 from Getty Images via Canva Pro

Accessibility Toolbar