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Black Transmission Fluid: What Causes It and What Should You Do Next?

Black Transmission Fluid

The transmission fluid found in your car’s transmission plays a very important role in the overall well-being of it. Your car’s transmission fluid is responsible for serving as both an oil and a hydraulic fluid. It’s in charge of doing things like allowing you to shift gears and lubricating all of the different moving parts in your transmission. With these things in mind, you might become concerned if you notice that you have black transmission fluid in your car—and for good reason! This is not a good sign for your car at all. Learn more about what causes black transmission fluid and what you should do if you ever spot it below.

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What Color Should the Transmission Fluid in My Car Be?

You can tell a lot about the current condition of your car’s transmission fluid by looking at it and making a mental note of what color it is. Under normal circumstances, your transmission fluid should be red and transparent. This will let you know that it’s still on the newer side and that you don’t have to worry about it at all. As long as you have red transmission fluid in your car, your transmission should work just fine and you shouldn’t have to be concerned about taking it in for transmission service any time.


You should, however, be at least a little bit concerned if your transmission fluid is any color except red. For instance, if you have transmission fluid that has turned light brown, it might mean that it’s starting to get to be on the older side. If it’s dark brown, it might mean that it’s getting to be old and contaminated and is no longer capable of protecting your car like it’s supposed. And if you have black transmission fluid in your car, it might mean that it’s old, contaminated, and possibly even oxidized.


Whatever the case, you shouldn’t ever ignore the color of your car’s transmission fluid. You can tell so many things about it just by looking at what color it is. You’re going to want to spring into action and have your car looked at right away if it’s anything other than bright red.

Why Would My Transmission Fluid Be Black?

Your car’s transmission fluid isn’t going to turn black overnight. In fact, it’s going to take a really long time for it to go from bright red to black. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not something you should worry about. You might be surprised to hear about how many people end up with black transmission fluid in their cars simply because they don’t spend any time thinking about whether or not they need to consider having their transmission fluid replaced.


If you have black transmission fluid in your car, it’s a pretty clear-cut sign that your transmission fluid is way older than it should be. Transmission fluid will go from red to light brown to dark brown to black as it gets older in age. It’ll also going through that process when you’re constantly driving around in your car and racking up a bunch of miles on it. You should be wary if you have black transmission fluid in your car or if you ever smell something burning in the area of your transmission. It’ll indicate the need for transmission fluid replacement right away.

How Often Should I Change My Transmission Fluid?

As you can probably guess by now, black transmission fluid isn’t something that you want floating around in your car. You want to avoid it at all costs by having your transmission fluid replaced long before it comes anywhere close to turning black. Ideally, you should try to replace your transmission fluid when it’s still in either the light brown or dark brown stage.


That being said, there isn’t a hard and fast rule for how often you should change your car’s transmission fluid. Some people say that you should do it every 30,000 to 60,000 miles or so. But the truth is that every vehicle is different. Some need to have transmission fluid changed before they hit the 30,000-mile mark, while others can go well beyond 60,000 miles without needing new transmission fluid.


The best way to figure out when you’re supposed to be changing the transmission fluid in your vehicle is by consulting the owner’s manual for it. It’ll tell you exactly how long you should be going in between transmission fluid changes. You won’t have to worry about riding around with black transmission fluid in your vehicle when you follow the recommendations of your auto manufacturer.

What Are the Dangers of Black Transmission Fluid?

At this point, you should be well aware of the fact that driving around in a car with black transmission fluid is a bad idea. But we haven’t gone into what might happen if you do it just yet. It’s important for you to know what might happen to your car if you don’t make your black transmission fluid a thing of the past. You could put your car into real danger if they don’t make a move and change your transmission fluid.


For starters, black transmission fluid can cause the gears in your transmission to slip. This is going to make it difficult for you to drive your car at the speed that you want to drive it. Black transmission fluid can also cause your car’s transmission to make all kinds of strange sounds. Additionally, when transmission fluid gets to be so old that it turns black, it’ll also sometimes start to leak out of your car and make a big mess.


And this is only the beginning! In a worst-case scenario, you could be forced to pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to fix your car’s transmission. It’s going to cost you a pretty penny to do this since your transmission is the second-most important part in your car next to your engine. You might even have to replace your transmission altogether if you don’t do something about black transmission fluid with some sense of urgency.

What Do I Do If My Transmission Fluid Is Black?

If you discover that you have black transmission fluid in your car, you’re not going to have any choice but to change that by replacing your transmission fluid. You should take your car to a transmission specialist as soon as you can so that they can take your black transmission fluid out of your car and replace it with bright-red transmission fluid so that it’s able to do its job to the best of its ability again. And you shouldn’t stop there.


There is a decent chance that the black transmission fluid that was in your car may have caused issues with your transmission. Because of this, you should also ask your transmission specialist to poke around and see if they can find any potential problems that might have popped up in your transmission. You may need to make repairs to your transmission so that you can make it as efficient as possible again.


There is also a decent chance that a problem within your transmission may have caused your black transmission fluid. If that turns out to be the case, you’re still going to need to replace the transmission fluid. But you’re also going to have to get to the bottom of what led to your transmission fluid turning black so that you can fix it. Your specialist should be able to identify the source of a problem like this so that they can make the necessary transmission repairs for you.

Should I Change Transmission Fluid Myself?

It’s not all that uncommon for vehicle owners to change the oil in their cars on their own. Once you’ve changed the oil in a car a few times, it’s very easy to do. It’s a great way for those who own cars to save a few bucks on car maintenance. But you shouldn’t take this same approach to replacing black transmission fluid unless you’re a skilled mechanic who knows a lot about working on transmissions.


Replacing transmission fluid is a more complicated process than changing oil. There are a lot of things that could go wrong if you take black transmission fluid out of your car and replace it with fresh transmission fluid. You’re also not going to know what to look for in terms of potential problems with your car’s transmission while replacing black transmission fluid. It’s why this job is best left up to the professionals.


You might be tempted to put on a pair of overalls and try to replace black transmission fluid yourself. But more often than not, you’re going to be way better off relying on a licensed transmission specialist to do it for you. They’ll get the job done right and make sure that your transmission fluid isn’t black anymore and doesn’t turn black again anytime soon.

How Much Does It Cost to Change Transmission Fluid?

Most people pay somewhere between $20 and $50 for an oil change for their car. This is nothing in the grand scheme of things when it comes to maintaining a vehicle. But it’s also nothing compared to the price you’re usually going to have to pay to replace your car’s transmission fluid. Replacing black transmission fluid with fresh transmission fluid is going to cost you more than changing the oil in your car.


How much money are we talking? The average transmission fluid change cost is right around $100 for those with both automatic and manual transmissions. But you might have to pay anywhere from around $80 to more than $250 to get your vehicle’s transmission fluid replaced. It all depends on a variety of factors. Some of these factors include:

  • The make and model of your vehicle
  • The type of transmission that you have in your vehicle
  • The transmission specialist that you take your car to
  • The current condition of your car’s transmission

That last factor will be especially important to those who are concerned about the cost of a transmission fluid change. If your car’s transmission isn’t in good shape because of black transmission fluid, you could be forced to pay more than you would have to otherwise to make minor repairs to it. It’s yet another reason why you want to stay on top of transmission fluid changes and keep your car’s transmission in great condition.

Is It Safe to Drive a Car With Black Transmission Fluid?

If you’re not going to be able to pay to have black transmission fluid removed from your car right now, you might think about continuing to drive it until you can have it done. This is not a good idea since your car might not be safe to drive with black transmission fluid in it.


Many times, the transmission in a car that has black transmission fluid in it won’t be able to build up the amount of hydraulic pressure that it needs to shift the gears in the car. This could lead to all kinds of complications out on the road for you. Your car might begin acting unpredictably and put both you and other drivers at risk. So if you can’t change the black transmission fluid in your car right now, you should park it and leave it parked until you’re ready to pay for the job to get done.

Can You Sell a Car With Black Transmission Fluid in It?

When you go to sell a car, you usually want to make sure that it doesn’t have things like black transmission fluid in it. It’s going to be tough to get someone to buy a car when it has black transmission fluid in it because it’s going to indicate that there could be issues with the car’s transmission. But you won’t have to worry about running into this issue when you sell a car with black transmission fluid in it to junk car buyers.


At Cash Cars Buyer, we’ll gladly pay you cash for your car, even if it has black transmission fluid in it. We’ll also give you top dollar for your car in spite of any major problems that might exist with your transmission. We’ll provide you with a way to get rid of a car with transmission issues while also padding your pockets with a little bit of extra spending money. Contact us now for more information on selling your car for cash.

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