Understanding the Different Colors of Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid does for your transmission what engine oil does for your car’s engine. It helps your car’s transmission to shift smoothly while lubricating and cleaning all of the parts. Good transmission fluid also helps to reduce the overall wear and tear that your transmission faces as you drive, but what does it mean when you check it and see a specific color? York Tire & Auto Service explains the colors of transmission fluid below.

Clear and Red

Brand-new transmission fluid is crystal clear and red. When you check your transmission fluid, this is great to see. Especially if you recently had your fluid swapped out. The reason that it’s still this color is that it hasn’t picked up metal shavings, dirt, and anything else yet from the transmission. This is fluid that can help to keep your transmission lubricated for quite a while.

Clear and Brown

As your transmission fluid ages, it starts to oxidize. It is also picking up some of the dirt, grime, and metal shavings in your transmission. It might be more brown than red, but the fluid should still be fairly clear. Your transmission fluid is aging at this stage, but it can still do its job very well. You may still have quite a few miles before you need to worry about swapping the fluid.

Brown and Opaque

The fluid will continue to oxidize until, eventually, it’s fully brown and now opaque. This means it has reached the end of what it can do for your transmission and needs to be changed. The darker brown fluid has collected too much other stuff and it isn’t able to keep the transmission both lubricated and clean anymore. It will also make the gear shifts harder.

Black or Pink

If you’re checking your transmission fluid and it’s completely black or pink, this is bad news. Black fluid means that the fluid is fully oxidized and is now actively working against your transmission. It can do serious harm at this stage. Pink fluid is bad because it means that there’s water or coolant in your transmission somehow. There should never be other fluids coming in contact with your car’s transmission fluid. With black or pink fluid, you might have some serious damage that needs to be repaired or, in a worst-case scenario, you might need to replace your transmission.

Concerned about your colors of transmission fluid? Contact us at York Tire & Auto Service. We are the best auto repair shop in Red Lion, PA, and we can take a look for you. We’ll give you honest answers about what’s happening with your transmission and the fluid that keeps it running well.


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