Transmission Fluid Color Meaning & How to Check?

Behind the smooth working of the car’s transmission lies the effort of the transmission fluid. Poor maintenance schedules change the transmission fluid into several colors. However, there are steps that must be carried out to determine the transmission fluid color meaning, the reason for changes, and take steps to mitigate the issue:

What’s Transmission Fluid?

The transmission fluid is responsible keeps the transmission components safe. It protects the gear from friction and abstains the friction within the gears by offering a smooth clutch and gear engagement. The transmission system generally transfers energy from a car’s engine to wheels. This type of transmission system keeps the car-free from dirt and debris. At this stage, you’ll notice a red-color fluid.

Why is Transmission Fluid Red?

Why is Transmission Fluid Red?

If the transmission fluid color is red, it looks like a dye, and the reason behind it hasn’t been discovered yet. It is easy to distinguish the fluid from other oils, including engine oil, radiator oil, washer fluid, and coolant.

What Should the Transmission Fluid Smell Like?

When the transmission fluid is fresh, it has a sweet or tart-like smell. The real trouble takes place as the transmission fluid releases a burning smell and is accompanied by signs of heat and surged friction. This issue can be resolved using fluid flush or leak repair. Ignoring these issues could have an enduring impact on the transmission and engine of the car.

An Insight to Transmission Fluid Colors

An Insight to Transmission Fluid Colors

The quality of transmission fluid can be determined by its color properties. Most fluids have red color while fluid of cars like SUV has blue color fluid. Other colors that are found in the transmission fluid are Red, Light-brown, brown, dark brown, and pink.



A red transmission fluid indicates that the fluid is of optimum quality. The fluid within the system is fresh, and one doesn’t have to check it frequently. Instead of checking the fluid for quality, focus on what can be done to give fluid longevity a boost.

Light Brown

Light brown transmission fluid indicates that it’s becoming old, and dirt has started getting within it. The lubricating properties of such liquid are low and degrade the system with the parts. Try refilling the system to prevent transmission issues and other problems. Taking your car to the mechanic for a transmission fluid replacement would be the best course of action.

Color Changing from Dark Brown to Black

The transmission fluid is facing internal issues if its color while the color change from dark brown to black takes place. Fluid starts dissipating the burning oil smell, and immediate action must be taken to prevent further damages. Determine the transmission fluid replacement cost and fill fresh fluid within the car. In the worst-case scenario, the entire transmission must be changed to help the vehicle run smoothly.


This kind of transmission fluid has coolant contaminants inside it. During this stage, it’s difficult to tell whether the coolant contaminant will lubricate the vehicle or not. A fluid that is contaminated or has coolant inside it must be flushed, and fresh transmission fluid must be added inside the car.

How to Test the Transmission Fluid?

Depending on the car’s structure, the transmission fluid structure is very simple or complex. Some would use a dipstick or add it to a fluid container and rub it on white tissue to determine the color.

Material Required

The right tools can help you determine the color of the fluid. It encompasses the following things(and aren’t limited to it):

1. Gloves

2. RagsĀ 

3. White Tissue

Step by Step Transmission Color Testing Process

Step 1: Place The Car On A Leveled Surface And Open The Hood

Place the car on a leveled surface using jack stands. Keep the balancing scale on the ground and turn the car ignition to keep the car warm. Turn the ignition off after several minutes and open the vehicle’s hood.

Step 2: Test the fluid Using a Dipstick

The transmission dipstick is generally present beneath the hood. You can refer to the car manual to determine the exact location of the dipstick. In certain cars, the manufacturers have marked red color to help us find it without any hassle.

Step 3: Take Out the Dipstick

Take out the dipstick as the process runs effortlessly at the initial stages. Take extra caution to prevent dipstick breakage or damage.

Step 4: Keep the Dipstick on White Tissue or Towel

Use clean tissue or towel and insert the dipstick again and take it out. Ensure that every time you dip, the markings are calibrated differently.

Step 5: Check the Color and Level of the Fluid

Do check the oil levels after taking the liquid out using the dipstick. If oil levels are low, top up with more oil. In case the color on the dipstick turns out to be brown or black, it’s time to fill fresh and quality liquid in it. You can get it from the car parts and accessories online storeThe Auto Parts Shop,’ bringing top-quality and reasonable transmission fluid to you.

The Bottom Line

Ensure that the transmission levels are proper and colors are checked every now and then. Checking the color will keep not only the transmission but also the engine safe. There are several ways to check fluid levels and colors apart from the dipstick. Do consider the nature of fluid and carry out transmission fluid replacement in case the levels go down.

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