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What Color is Transmission Fluid?


Transmission fluid is a crucial component of the automatic transmission system in vehicles. It is responsible for providing lubrication, cooling, and cleaning functions for the transmission. However, many car owners are not aware of the color of their transmission fluid and its significance. In this article, we will discuss the color of transmission fluid, what it means, and how it changes over time.

What is Transmission Fluid?

Transmission fluid is a specialized oil that lubricates the transmission components in vehicles. It is typically made up of base oil and additives that enhance its properties. The fluid is responsible for providing a smooth transfer of power between the engine and transmission, reducing friction and wear, and dissipating heat generated by the transmission.

What Color is Transmission Fluid?

Newer transmission fluid is a translucent dark red color, but over time, it will become even darker through use. The darkening of the fluid is due to the accumulation of contaminants such as dirt, metal shavings, and worn-out transmission components. As a result, the color of the transmission fluid can be an indicator of its condition and the need for a fluid change.

Transmission Fluid Color Chart

Here is a transmission fluid color chart that can help you understand the condition of your transmission fluid:

  1. New Transmission Fluid: Translucent dark red color

  2. Normal Transmission Fluid: Dark red color

  3. Burnt Transmission Fluid: Dark brown or black color

  4. Milky Transmission Fluid: Light pink color

Significance of Transmission Fluid Color

The color of transmission fluid can indicate its condition and whether it needs to be changed. The dark red color of new transmission fluid indicates that it is clean and fresh. However, as the fluid circulates through the transmission, it can pick up contaminants and become darker in color. A dark brown or black color can indicate that the fluid is burnt and has lost its lubricating properties. Milky or light pink-colored transmission fluid can be a sign of water or coolant contamination, which can lead to transmission failure.

How to Check Transmission Fluid Color

Checking the color of your transmission fluid is a simple process that can be done at home. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Park your car on level ground and let the engine cool down.

  2. Locate the transmission dipstick, which is typically located near the engine oil dipstick.

  3. Pull out the dipstick and wipe it clean with a lint-free cloth or paper towel.

  4. Re-insert the dipstick fully and pull it out again.

  5. Observe the color of the fluid on the dipstick. If it is dark red or reddish-brown, it is likely in good condition. However, if it is dark brown or black, it may need to be changed.

When to Change Transmission Fluid

The frequency of transmission fluid changes varies depending on the make and model of the vehicle. In general, it is recommended to change the fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. However, severe driving conditions such as towing, stop-and-go traffic, or driving in hot weather can accelerate fluid breakdown and necessitate more frequent changes. It is essential to refer to your vehicle owner's manual for the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule.


Transmission fluid is an essential component of the automatic transmission system in vehicles. Its color can indicate its condition and whether it needs to be changed. Newer transmission fluid is a translucent dark red color, but over time, it will become even darker through use. Regularly checking and changing the fluid can prevent transmission failure and extend the life of your vehicle.

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