Auto Repair

Is it True That Transmission Fluid Changes Colors?

Yes, Empire Auto Care advises that your transmission fluid will change colors as it ages. It is important to have the transmission fluid changed every 30,000 miles to make sure it is always lubricating the transmission, helping it to shift gears, and drawing heat away from it. Transmission fluid works much like the motor oil does in the engine, and low or old transmission fluid can damage the transmission. Let’s talk about the transmission fluid lifecycle and the different colors it turns.

Bright Red

You should always have bright red transmission fluid in the transmission. The fluid should also always be translucent. When the fluid is this color and is see-through, it is doing an excellent job of protecting the transmission. It is also helping the transmission shifts the gears smoothly and seamlessly. Transmission fluid that is translucent and bright red does not need to be changed.

Light Brown

You can also leave the fluid in the transmission a little while longer if it is light brown or orange. This is a sign that the transmission fluid is starting to get old, but it remains translucent and capable of doing its job. Again, the transmission fluid does not need to be changed at this time.


Once the transmission fluid turns brown, which is usually after 30,000 miles, you need to have the fluid changed right away. Not only is the transmission fluid much darker, but it is also turning opaque. In other words, you can no longer see through it. This is a sign that the fluid is oxidizing, which means it is filling with air bubbles that prevent it from protecting the transmission.


If you fail to change the transmission fluid when it is brown, it will continue to oxidize and turn black. At this point, you are causing serious damage to the transmission if you do not change the fluid. In fact, your transmission will start to act up and have problems shifting the gears. In severe cases, the transmission may become completely unresponsive.


Finally, it is worth noting that aside from black, you should never have pink transmission fluid, either. When the transmission fluid turns pink, it is filling with engine coolant that is leaking out of the cooling system. Unfortunately, the combination of fluids not only damages your transmission but also causes your engine to overheat.

Empire Auto Care in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, is here to help, so call us today to schedule a service appointment if it has been more than 30,000 miles since you have had your transmission fluid changed.

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