In our guide today, we shall talk about transmission fluid color, what they mean plus many other important information you need to know about transmission fluid. Before we get started, let us briefly consider what a transmission fluid is and what it does to the engine.
What Is Transmission Fluid?
All of the components of a transmission system are protected by transmission fluid. It provides a lubricating surface for a smooth clutch and gear engagement, protecting your gear sets from friction.
As a result, your transmission system can efficiently transfer energy from the car engine to the wheels. Additionally, this type of lubricant can keep your transmission system clear of dirt. Finally, the fluid’s red hue might be used to identify it.
For various transmissions, a number of fluids are employed. The transmission of your car might be either automatic or manual. Automatic transmission fluid is used in automatic transmissions, as you might have guessed (ATF). The proper use of automatic transmission oil is significantly dependent on the transmission technology in your vehicle: conventional, CVT, DCT/DSG, and so on. In terms of application, these are extremely particular.
The majority of manual transmissions use a variety of oils that meet the API GL-4 criteria. Consult your owner’s handbook to be sure you’re using the right transmission fluid for your vehicle.
It’s important that the fluid in your gearbox be at the right level; otherwise, your transmission will wear out quickly. When shifting, the synchro rings and sliders rely on a frictionless surface to match speeds. If you don’t have enough oil in your transmission, the wear on these components will accelerate, making shifting more difficult. Check the transmission oil level if your car is having trouble shifting.
Read also: How To Check Transmission Fluid: Easy Steps
Transmission Fluid Color and What They Mean
Let’s now consider the different transmission fluid color and their meaning.
Checking the color qualities of your transmission fluid is one way to tell if it’s still in good shape. The nicest aspect is that most fluids are red in color. With the exception of the blue-colored lubricants used by Mercedes and BMW. Color fluids such as red, light-brown, brown, dark brown, and pink can be found in your transmission fluids.
If your transmission fluid is this color, it’s likely that it’s been damaged internally. The liquid begins to smell like burned oil at this point. As a result, you must act quickly to prevent more harm. You should think about switching fluids. You may even need to repair a complete transmission if you discover some imminent damage. The fluid is in decent condition because it is relatively translucent. As a result, such fluid is okay, but adequate flushing at the appropriate time is required. This ensures that the transmission outlasts the vehicle.
If your car’s gearbox fluids are red, that means it’s in good shape. It’s most likely still fresh or new. Ensure there is enough fluid in the system at this time. There will be no need for regular diagnosis and problem checks once it is fully topped up. More importantly, follow the owner’s instructions for best methods for extending the fluid’s shelf life.
This means that the fluid has become old and unclean and is no longer fit for usage. Because such fluid has poor lubricant characteristics, it might create additional wear and tear on the system’s components. To avoid transmission failure and other issues, you should consider refilling transmission fluid. To change your transmission filter or fluid, take your car to an auto service center.
This distinctive color indicates coolant contamination in the transmission fluid. At this point, the ability of coolant-contaminated fluid to lubricate is unknown. Unfortunately, a fluid polluted with water or coolant is one of the signals that the transmission system has to be flushed and fresh fluids installed.
Top Best Transmission Fluid You Should Use
After seeing the different transmission fluid color and what they stand for, let’s now take a look at the top rated high quality transmission fluids you should consider using that will make your transmission shift smoothly without issues.
Castrol automatic transmission fluid
Our favorite automatic transmission fluid is Castrol. It has been customer tested and shown to deliver high-performance outcomes. It has enhanced friction durability for smooth shifting. Transmax meets and satisfies the Dexron, Dexron III, Dexron-III H, IIE, and II requirements, as well as all Mercon standards, depending on your precise make and model.
If you have a Mercon-required car, you can also use this ATF in your power steering. As a result, it’s an excellent alternative for topping off your transmission and power steering fluids with a single package. The huge bottle size is particularly advantageous because you’ll probably only need one, reducing plastic waste.
Always verify your vehicle’s owner’s manual to make sure it’s compatible. The only thing about this fluid that we didn’t enjoy was the odd labeling. It says it’s for domestic cars on the packaging, but that’s false; this sort of fluid can work in imports as well, as long as they require Dex/Merc fluid.
ACDelco Dexron VI Synthetic ATF
Automatic transmission fluid compositions are continually being refined and re-released by companies like ACDelco. Dexron VI is the sixth version of the Dexron formula, as you might assume, but ACDelco makes it usable by making it backwards compatible with all previous versions of the formula, all the way back to Dexron III. If you’ve previously utilized III, IV, or V in your transmission, you can safely switch to VI today.
Dexron VI is inexpensive and effective. As a result of Dexron VI’s improved friction tolerance and viscosity, purchasers note that their park through drive shifting becomes significantly smoother after the flush. All of this, plus it removes rust. Overall, this is an excellent low-cost option for extending the life of your transmission.
The only complaint we have about this transmission fluid is that it isn’t available in larger bottles than one quart. This causes a great deal of inconvenience for customers, as well as unneeded plastic waste in the environment.
Red Line GL-4 Manual Transmission Lubricant
Manual transmissions operate differently from automatic transmissions, necessitating the use of a different type of transmission fluid. For your manual automobile, we recommend Red Line’s GL-4 transmission lubricant (just make sure it meets your specs). It fits the requirements of 70W, 75W, 80W, SAE 30, 5W30, and 10W30 motor oils and is less slippery and low in sulfur, making it suitable with brass synchronizers. It’s also available in a version with a higher viscosity (MT-85 and MT-90).
This transmission lubricant performs particularly well in vintage muscle vehicles, as well as sporty Hondas, Dodges, and Acuras, due to its exceptional stability at high temperatures and in performance applications. It’s also been known to fix third-gear problems in some vehicles, all while enhancing the transmission’s overall glide for smooth shifting. Plan ahead of time because most manual gearbox cars require roughly two quarts of fluid.
Overall, this is a high-quality device that shows promise in terms of performance. The formulation’s only flaw is that it appears to act up a little in really cold temperatures. This implies that shifting will be more difficult until the gearbox has warmed up enough to thin the lubrication.
Royal Purple Synchromax
For drivers with manual transmissions, Royal Purple Synchromax is a viable option. It’s especially beneficial for manual-shifting vehicles whose owner’s manuals urge that automatic transmission fluid be used. This is a typical scenario—manual automobiles ranging from Hondas to Ford pickups to Jeeps come with that recommendation—and if it applies to you, Royal Purple Synchromax is a near-perfect solution.
Let’s begin with the good news. Royal Purple Synchromax was created with the purpose of reducing parasitic power loss, and it almost always succeeds. When compared to OEM transmission fluid, you may notice not only an increase in horsepower but also smoother shifting. In fact, don’t be surprised if your manual transmission begins to feel like new.
Synchromax contains various chemicals that are considered dangerous under California Proposition 65. Make sure you’re working in a well-ventilated location and wearing a dust mask and gloves. Aside from health problems, the primary disadvantage is that not everyone benefits from utilizing this fluid in the same way—possible it’s that you’ll add it to your transmission and see no difference.
Ravenol DTF-1 Transfer Case Fluid
Ravenol is a German manufacturer, and its transfer case fluid performs best in German vehicles: it meets OEM criteria for Volkswagens and BMWs, as well as Land Rovers, Nissans, and other vehicles. This fluid is developed for electronic active transfer cases, so if your vehicle has a modern electric system, you’ll get the greatest results.
Ravenol DTF-1 transfer case fluid is a high-performance lubricant with a low friction coefficient that reduces both immediate and long-term power loss and wear. This is a nearly similar product to the BMW-branded fluid for a fraction of the price, and it’s great for reversing transfer case slippage and smoothing out shifts.
Before you use it, keep in mind that it only works on a limited number of vehicles, and it also contains potentially dangerous substances. Non-European users may also have issues with the cap assembly, which includes an inner cylinder that must be deployed before the bottle can be inserted into the transfer case.
Mobil ATF 3309
Mobil is part of one of the most well-known oil businesses in the world, so it’s only natural that they’d be a strong contender for finest automatic transmission fluid. This specific recipe, ATF 3309, is a low-cost, high-power approach to quiet your transmission and restore your vehicle’s drivability.
To begin with, it is compatible with a wide range of automobiles, including Toyota, Lexus, and Volvo models, among others. It’s also budget-friendly, with 12-quart bulk purchases (enough for two to four gearbox flushes) available. It’s near enough to factory ATF to be safe, but it performs substantially better in terms of smoother shifting and transmission life. This is one of our go-to fluids for a shivering transmission.
Is there anything to avoid as a buyer? That bulk discount, however, comes with a catch: if you only need a few quarts, you’ll have to spend twice as much. Also, because this isn’t a synthetic transmission fluid, we don’t recommend going back to Mobil if you’ve discovered that synthetic works better in your transmission.
What color should transmission fluid be?
The color of healthy transmission fluid should be clear or pink. If your transmission fluid is a deep red or brown color, it is likely outdated and causing additional harm to your transmission. If it’s dark brown, it means the transmission fluid has been burned due to overheating.
Why does transmission color change to dark brown?
Transmission fluid that is cloudy and dark brown is old and polluted. Dark brown fluid also signals that the transmission’s internal temperature is higher than normal, which can lead to overheating and failure. Don’t put it off any longer; take your vehicle to a gearbox specialist right away.
Should I change my transmission fluid if it’s brown?
If your transmission fluid is dark brown or black, cleanse it and replace it immediately soon. Transmission fluid suffers from oxidation. Transmission fluid that is dark brown or black is filthy and incapable of lubricating the hundreds of transmission parts. If you do not have it changed, it will cause damage.
Why is my transmission fluid gray?
Your transmission fluid is continuously putting in a lot of work, that’s why the color is gray. Wear and tear on the parts of your gearbox cause metal to “shed” into the fluid. This changes the color of the fluid from brilliant red to gray, brown, or even black.
Does changing transmission fluid affect or helps shifting?
A transmission fluid cleanse can occasionally fix shifting issues if you notice them early enough. The new fluid aids in the bonding and holding of clutch discs and steel discs. The new fluid’s seal conditioners soften the clutch piston lip seals, allowing them to seal better.
What happens if transmission fluid is dirty?
Excess dirt and impurities in the gearbox might reduce hydraulic power, preventing the transmission from staying in the correct gear. A dirty transmission can quickly obstruct transmission fluid flow, resulting in a lack of pressure required to keep the transmission in gear.