Transmission Fluid Color Guide

The color of your automobile’s transmission fluid is very revealing. This fluid changes color as it ages. It’s important to have the transmission fluid changed when it needs it because this fluid is crucial to your transmission’s health and operation. This fluid not only lubricates the gears and other moving parts but also protects the parts, cools them down, cleans them, and works as a hydraulic fluid to assist the transmission in changing gears. Stringer Auto Repair offers a fluid color guide below so you can gauge the health of your vehicle’s transmission fluid.


In order for the transmission fluid to do all of the things we listed above effectively, it must be red and translucent. This is the color of new transmission fluid that isn’t dirty or contaminated. The fluid is see-through, viscous, hasn’t oxidized, and is able to protect the transmission and help it shift gears.

Light Brown

Light brown transmission fluid means that the fluid is getting older. The fluid is still translucent and does not need to be changed quite yet. Light brown transmission fluid is not a sign of problems at this time. You can drive your vehicle a little bit longer before you need to change the transmission fluid when it is light brown and translucent.


Instead of being light brown, the transmission fluid may look more orange. This is a sign that the transmission fluid is still okay but it is getting older. Again, provided the transmission fluid is see-through and has an orange hue, you probably don’t need to change it just yet. You can drive a little longer before you need to have the transmission fluid flushed out and refilled.

Brown/Dark Brown

Once the transmission fluid turns brown, which is usually at about 30,000 miles, it’s time to change it. The brown transmission fluid will become opaque, which means you can’t see through it anymore. Brown and dark brown hues indicate that the transmission fluid is no longer viscous and it is oxidizing. Oxidizing means the fluid is filling with air bubbles and is unable to do its job. Change your transmission fluid right away when it’s this color.


Finally, as an aside, it’s important that your transmission fluid never turns pink. You might think that transmission fluid is pink when it is brand new, but it is red. Pink fluid means that there is either water or engine coolant in the transmission fluid and instead of doing its job, the diluted fluid is damaging your transmission. It’s important to bring your vehicle in right away if you see pink fluid leaking from underneath your automobile.

We’ve got you covered here at Stringer Auto Repair in Johnstown, OH. If you’ve put 30,000 miles on your automobile, it is probably time for a transmission fluid flush and refills. Schedule an appointment today.

Photo by chat9780 from Getty Images via Canva Pro

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