What Color Should My Transmission Fluid Be? Mine is Red!

It’s perfect if your transmission fluid is red because that is the color it should be. George Automotive Services would be happy to check your transmission and its fluid every 30,000 miles because that is the duration that is recommended for transmission services. Check your owner’s manual to confirm that this is also the recommendation for your car, truck, or utility vehicle. If the transmission fluid needs to be changed, which it likely will at that time, we will do so. Here is how you can tell that your transmission fluid needs to be changed.

Bright Red/Red

Bright red or red transmission fluid does not need to be changed. Provided the fluid is translucent, it’s in excellent shape to do its job. The transmission fluid works tirelessly to help the transmission shift gears and also to protect it. Your transmission will die quickly without transmission fluid. This is why it’s important to have it changed every 30,000 miles so that it is clean and fresh.

Light Reddish-Brown/Orange

Once the transmission fluid starts to age, it will turn a light-reddish brown or orange. Provided that the transmission fluid can still be seen through, it’s okay to leave it in the transmission at this time. When the transmission fluid is this color, it is still doing its job effectively. This being said, you will need to have your transmission fluid changed soon, so plan for this service.

Brown/Dark Brown/Black

Brown, dark brown, or black transmission fluid must be changed immediately. The reason why the transmission fluid changes color from red to brown is that it oxidizes as it gets older. Oxidation occurs when the fluid fills with air bubbles that impede its ability to do its job. In other words, if your transmission has brown fluid in it, the fluid is not doing its job.

Aside from the difference in color, when the fluid reaches this stage, you will also have problems with your automatic transmission. For example, the transmission will not shift gears smoothly anymore and you may hear grinding sounds at each gearshift. The transmission may also refuse to go into gear or shift gears when it needs to.


Finally, as an aside, if you end up with a leak between your cooling system and the transmission, you will end up with pink and frothy transmission fluid that resembles a strawberry milkshake. This means that the transmission fluid has coolant in it. This will damage the transmission instantly.

If it has been 30,000 miles since your last transmission service, call George Automotive Services in Danville, PA, today. We will schedule a transmission service for you.

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