What Color Should My Car’s Transmission Fluid Be?

What color should my car’s transmission fluid be? Your car, truck, or utility vehicle’s transmission fluid should be red. We’ll talk more about that below. Mark’s Auto Service advises that is important to always have fresh transmission fluid in the transmission to extend its life. The transmission fluid not only lubricates and protects the transmission, but it also prevents it from overheating and helps it shift gears. The general recommendation for transmission fluid flushes and refills is every 30,000 miles. Check your owner’s manual for the specific duration for your automobile.

Bright Red

Transmission fluid that is capable of doing its job perfectly is bright red or red and translucent. This is how your transmission fluid should look all the time. Also called transmission oil, when the oil is this color, it is protecting the transmission as best as it can and also making the gear shifts smooth and seamless. This transmission fluid does not need to be replaced.

Light Brown

Light brown or orange transmission oil is getting older but it is still doing its job. You don’t need to replace the transmission fluid when it is light brown or orange. It should still be translucent and your gear shifting should still be smooth. It’s a good idea to calendar a transmission fluid flush and refill soon when the fluid is light brown, but you don’t need to do it right away.


You do need to have your transmission oil changed right away if it is brown, dark brown, or black. This means that the transmission fluid is too old to do its job properly. In fact, you may begin to notice problems with the transmission’s operation. It may be difficult to get your vehicle into gear, and it may be rough as it shifts gears. This is definitely a sign of transmission fluid problems. When transmission fluid turns brown, it is oxidizing and damaging the transmission.


Finally, pink transmission oil is a bad sign. The transmission fluid will be pink and frothy like a strawberry milkshake. This is an indication that there is coolant mixed with the transmission fluid. This not only seriously damages the transmission, but it is also a sign that you have serious transmission and cooling system damage. The two fluids should not mix, and they won’t if everything is okay between the two systems.

Mark’s Auto Service in Rockford and Loves Park, IL, would be happy to check your transmission fluid and change it if it needs it. Call us today.

Photo by chat9780 from Getty Images via Canva Pro

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