What Is Your Transmission Oil Trying to Tell You?

Checking the transmission fluid is not as easy as checking your oil. The dipstick for the transmission fluid is oftentimes underneath the vehicle, which means you’ll either have to scoot under your car, truck, or SUV or raise it on a lift. Don’t worry. Righter’s Auto Repair can check your transmission fluid for you. You might see the fluid, however, if you have a transmission leak. Get it fixed right away if you do. The color of the fluid can tell you a lot. Here’s what the color is trying to tell you.

Bright Red

Bright red transmission fluid does not need to be changed. Red is the color of transmission fluid that is new, viscous, and still able to protect the transmission parts properly. Red also indicates the transmission fluid is clean, which it should be at all time because it is encased in the system.

Light Brown

Light brown transmission fluid is still okay but it has been around the block a few times, if you will. As transmission fluid ages, it tends to change from red to brown. This color change can be caused by dirt and/or heat. Light brown transmission fluid is still relatively clean and viscous, so you’re okay for now.

Dark Brown

Once the transmission fluid starts getting darker, it’s time to change it. This usually occurs anywhere between 30,000 miles and 50,000 miles. Another sign the transmission oil needs to be changed is its density. You can see through clean transmission fluid and you can’t see through dirty, dark brown oil.


You’ve gone beyond the mileage milestone if your transmission fluid is so dark brown it’s nearly black or it is black. If this is the case, have the transmission oil changed immediately. The oil is already oxidized, which means it’s depositing gunk throughout the transmission and cannot lubricate moving parts.


Don’t be fooled. Pink transmission fluid isn’t light red transmission fluid that is okay. Pink transmission fluid is diluted transmission fluid and you’ve got a huge problem underneath the hood if the transmission oil is pink. Pink means coolant or water is leaking into the transmission and, yup, this is very bad news.

Righter’s Auto Repair in Grand Ledge, MI, would be happy to check your transmission oil and the entire system to ensure everything is a-okay. If it isn’t, we can flush and refill the oil and perform any necessary transmission repairs. Call us at 517-220-0712 for more information and to schedule an appointment.

Photo by Chat9780 from Getty Images via Canva Pro

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