What Color Transmission Fluid? What Is a Color of a Worn Transmission Fluid?

What color is transmission fluid?

We all have accepted the fact that the usual color for transmission fluid is red or green, all that because of a dye that is added to highlight a number of other fluids like antifreeze, engine oil, brake fluid etc. Of course, it plays a more important role too, by examining its color we can find out the condition and get to know the time when refreshment is required.

Note: sometimes transmission oil may be of blue or yellow colors instead of a common red.

Second note: some antifreeze fluids or windshield wipers may be also red, so before using one read the label first!

You should realize that a color of the fluid is not a major problem indicator. Some shops get high profits from owners who are very trustful and believe that off-color fluid is 100% a problem. Old cars can have a pure, red oil, while brand new cars with perfect transmission can have dark fluid. The color in this context doesn’t play a big role.

When a problem occurs it is important to pay attention to other symptoms. It is impossible to say something for certain by examining only the fluid and it can’t say for sure the appropriate service. So, be aware a lot of shops may trick you easily.

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What is a color of a clean transmission fluid?

New fluid has a red translucent color. It will be probably hard to see it using a dipstick, but if you pour some on a white rag, you will see that it has dark red color or even pink color.

The color changes with time, it is functioning under the constant heat and pressure, so it collects dirt, debris, and other contaminants. When you buy the liquid it has bright red or pink color and when you have used it for a certain period of time it becomes darker and browner till it gets totally dark color. There is nothing to worry about, it is a completely normal process.

As well as transmission fluid is a complicated substance, each of them has its own chemical component list, consequently, there are different fluids from various manufacturers for various types of cars. Each type is created for working in particular conditions of a certain transmission type.

The most reliable indicator is the mileage and the time span from the last changing, however, the darker transmission oil is, the sooner you need to change it. If you feel as an average driver, so the changing time comes to you every two years or every 30,000 – 50,000 miles, keep an eye what comes first. Obviously, commercial cars used for towing need more frequent service.

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What color is worn transmission fluid?

The fluid circulates in the internal parts of the system, so it suffers from heat the most. To get cooled it travels to the front part of the engine and reaches the radiator before turning back to the transmission.

The circulation process will make the new fluid dark color from red color, later the brownish color may appear. It shows that the chemical components are running and they cannot reduce the heat anymore as well as just lubricate the essential parts.

Don’t forget that it is impossible to drain all oil full and complete, some old fluid will remain. If you decide to change the oil, the old one will mix with a new one and together they will have a brown color. So, even brand new fluid may receive brownish color.

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What is a dirty transmission fluid?

We have earlier mentioned that high temperatures and pressure turn red color into a black color. Such tendency may mean that the fluid cannot cope with heat removing, so internal components are in a great danger of becoming worn. However, the color itself can not indicate a particular problem, only when you have additional symptoms you can say for sure. It is a good choice to change the filter regularly in order to avoid blocking.

Burnt transmission fluid

If the transmission fluid smells burnt and its color is totally black it means that this oil cannot cope with heating anymore. It also loses its lubricating abilities and from now on the whole system is in danger.

In this case, you have to drop the metal transmission pan and look for some metal shavings. Of course, you will find some, but if there is a lot of debris that can indicate nothing but serious troubles with the transmission. If you have such issue, you should service your car immediately. This is the most confident way to diagnose the problem.

Like it or not, but changing the fluid is not effective on such stage, so take care of your car and do not let it get to such point. If you neglect the problem, one day your transmission will fail and die forever. Everything you can do is fix it in time, get it replaced or get a new car.

Burnt oil may be also a result of a malfunctioning of a torque converter, slipping clutches or ill solenoids. Due to the negative influence hard shifting and slipping may occur.

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Water or coolant in the fluid

If you see that the fluid is very foamy or has lots of bubbles, then you have to check if the coolant or antifreeze is not leaking.

Another thing you have to control is a water level in the transmission. If some water gets inside of the system it will bring rust, after some time this rust may damage the transmission badly.

Check the radiator for leaking or being blocked, its cooling lines can cause serious troubles. The chemicals of antifreeze can bring harm to the internal parts of the system. To eliminate the problem you have change filters and stop leaking. If the system is fully contaminated, you will have to check the transmission properly and probably replace some essential components that may be damaged.

Over to you

What transmission fluid color do you have? If you have some troubles with color or something else, write a comment and we will help you out.

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