Four Possible Transmission Fluid Colors and What They Mean

It’s important that you know what the different colors of transmission fluid mean for the health of your car and the transmission itself. SpringMasters Auto Repair can’t emphasize enough, however, that if you’re seeing transmission fluid under your car at all, you need to get your transmission inspected.


Brand-new transmission fluid is red in color and fairly translucent. In general, you probably aren’t going to see brand-new transmission fluid anywhere. If you do, that is not good news. It means that there’s a leak somewhere in the transmission and you never want to see that. Other than leaks, the closer your transmission fluid is to a clear, red fluid, the better.


Pink transmission fluid, on the other hand, is about the worst thing you can see. Transmission fluid starts out red, but water dilutes it and turns it pink. Because transmission fluid exists to lubricate, clean, and cool the transmission, it’s oily. Water in the transmission fluid means that it is not able to do its job at all and there are big problems brewing for your entire transmission.


When transmission fluid turns black, it’s served its purpose well. This also means that it’s time for you to change out the transmission fluid, because it’s pretty much used up. Like engine oil, transmission fluid collects dirt and shavings and keeps hold of it to make sure that the transmission doesn’t get clogged up with all that stuff. By the time it’s at the end of its life cycle, it’s either dark, dark brown or black and it’s opaque rather than translucent.


Your car’s transmission fluid spends the majority of its time in your car some shade of brown. As the fluid circulates and does its job, it gradually starts to lose the red color because it’s picking up debris and gunk. It should be mostly translucent still, and as the fluid ages and gets dirtier, it gradually darkens and becomes less clear. The key point here is that if you’re seeing a lot of transmission fluid anywhere at all, you have a situation that does need to be addressed.

SpringMasters Auto Repair in Stickney, IL can help you with all of your transmission needs. Contact us today and let us know what problems you’re having. If necessary, we can run diagnostic testing to see exactly what’s happening with your car’s transmission, engine, or other system.

Photo by chat9780 from Getty Images via Canva Pro

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