Transmission Fluid Is Red, Isn’t It?

Yes, healthy transmission fluid is red. Your transmission fluid is a crucial part of the transmission system in your automobile. This fluid helps the gears shift smoothly, lubricates moving parts, removes dirt and debris, and keeps the transmission cool. Without fresh transmission fluid, your transmission will slowly die. Trinity Auto Care discusses below how transmission fluid changes color as it ages. Once the transmission fluid reaches a certain hue, it must be changed to avoid damaging your transmission.


As we said above, healthy transmission fluid is red. It is also translucent so you can see through it. This fluid protects your transmission and helps it to shift gears. The average lifespan of healthy transmission fluid is about 30,000 miles. Generally, automobile manufacturers recommend that you have your transmission fluid changed at this mileage milestone and every 30,000 miles after that. For the first 30,000 miles, however, the transmission fluid should be doing its job appropriately.

Light Brown

This does not mean it will stay red the whole time. As transmission fluid starts to get older, it begins to turn orange or light brown. It’s still translucent; you can still see through it. Nonetheless, this fluid is starting to show signs of wear and tear. Provided the fluid is only light brown and clean, you don’t need to have the transmission fluid flushed and refilled just yet. It is important, however, to keep an eye on it because it will need to be changed soon.

Dark Brown/Black

Your transmission fluid is most likely dark brown by the time you put 30,000 miles on your car. Dark brown or black transmission fluid is no longer see-through. Rather, this fluid is opaque and dirty. Unfortunately, if you continue to drive with the transmission fluid in this condition, you will damage the transmission. In fact, you may have transmission problems as a result of the old fluid. These problems can include your transmission refusing to go into gear or to shift gears.


The above is bad enough. What’s worse is pink transmission fluid. Transmission fluid turns from red to pink when it is being diluted by engine coolant. The solution turns frothy and looks a lot like a strawberry milkshake. This is a sign that you have a serious breach between your vehicle’s cooling system and the automatic transmission system. You cannot drive your automobile with transmission fluid that has coolant in it.

Trinity Auto Care in Blaine, MN, is here for you. We also have a shop in White Bear Lake, MN. If you suspect that your transmission fluid needs to be changed, stop by the shop closest to you for a quick check.

Photo by chat9780 from Getty Images via Canva Pro

Accessibility Toolbar