Transmission fluid has the same viscosity and slickness as motor oil, but it is colored a dark transparent red to aid in identification. If it begins to darken or turns completely black, it is necessary to change the transmission fluid.
Transmission Fluid Color Guide
As any vehicle ages, both manual and automatic transmission fluid will darken in color. The fluid may also change color due to a malfunctioning transmission filter.
Use this color guide to determine whether your vehicle needs a fluid flush or new filter:
- Dark red = brand new filter.
- Dark brick red = normal.
- Deep blood red = service the vehicle soon.
- Nearly black = service the vehicle immediately.
In the same way that your engine uses oil to lubricate and cool its internals, automatic transmissions use specially designed transmission fluid for the same purpose. Conventional automatic transmissions, dual-clutch automatic transmissions, and continuously variable automatic transmissions all utilize a distinct transmission fluid. If you are uncertain as to which fluid is used in your transmission, consult your owner’s manual; transmission-fluid specifications are typically located in the specifications section.
A simple visual inspection will suffice to determine the condition of your vehicle’s transmission; you don’t need to be a mechanic. You must examine the level and condition of the transmission fluid.
How To Identify A Transmission Fluid Leak
A reddish puddle found beneath your vehicle is a clear indication that there is a transmission fluid leak. Here are a few other ways of identifying a potential leak:
- Odor: Typically, transmission fluid features a petroleum smell. It will smell burnt when a change is needed.
- Leak location: A transmission fluid leak will generally occur in the middle area of the front of the vehicle beneath the engine bay.
- Consistency: Just like engine oil and brake fluid, transmission fluid will look and feel oily and slick.
How Do I Inspect Transmission Fluid?
It is prudent to inspect your transmission fluid levels and condition once a month in order to detect problems before they become severe:
- Before inspecting the fluid, you must start your vehicle and ensure the engine is warm. On front-wheel drive vehicles, the transmission fluid dipstick is often located to the right of the motor oil dipstick.
- Check the fluid level with the dipstick and ensure it reaches the “full” indication. Use a funnel to add additional liquid if necessary.
- Check the fluid’s look and odor to ensure it does not require replacement.
Common Transmission Problems
- The transmission is undoubtedly one of the most complex components in any vehicle. Ensure you take your vehicle to a certified technician whenever you sense there may be an issue with the transmission fluid.
- Regularly scheduled service can help you catch most issues before they even begin.
How Often Should Transmission Fluid Be Changed?
Depending on the age of your vehicle, type of transmission, and driving circumstances, you should replace your transmission fluid every 50,000 to 100,000 miles if there are no abnormalities when you inspect the fluid. Check your owner’s manual for more specific instructions.
Transmission Service, Repair, & Replacement Services in Phoenix, AZ
We offer a full range of auto transmission repair and replacement services from automatic transmission to manual transmission to the entire Phoenix Metro area.
*Disclaimer – This is not an actual quote. Your transmission repair or replacement cost could be different than the prices you see on this guide. The only way to get an actual estimate is by searching for transmission repair and replacement shops near you. Contact Automatic Transmission Exchange if you are in the Phoenix area and need transmission repair or replacement.