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Black Transmission Fluid: The Mistakes You Can Avoid

The transmission system of a car functions properly when the working parts inside the transmission are well-lubricated and not damaged by the intense heat generation that takes place as they work. The fluid in the transmission plays a critical role to ensure that the vehicle gears properly shift. Black transmission fluid is a red flag that indicates several problems in the system.

What Does The Transmission Fluid Do?

In an automatic car, the automatic transmission fluid (ATF) acts both a gear lubricant and hydraulic fluid. In the process of reducing friction between the various components inside the system, the fluid endures extreme heat cycles, which can change its color. With increasing mileage and age of the car, it can turn black due to burning or collection of debris.

Black transmission fluid
Black fluid is a warning sign.

Black transmission fluid can lead to problems in acceleration, gear shifting, and, in the worst case, transmission failure. Regular inspection and timely cleaning can prevent such consequences.

Black Transmission Fluid: The Measures You Can Take

When the fluid looks like tar or exudes a distinct burning smell, there are a few things that you can do:

Clean The Entire System

The general recommendation is to drop the pan and drain the entire transmission properly. You should replace the filter and refill the new one with the correct fluid recommended in the Owner’s Manual. Using the wrong type, which is not compatible with the vehicle, can spell disaster for the overall transmission system.

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Don’t Do Flushing

Don’t flush the black transmission fluid. Too much damage can be done in this method by pushing dirt and other big particles or debris into the small spaces and crevices in the transmission system. There is also the risk of blasting away tiny but important objects of delicate transmission parts.

Never Refill A Dirty Transmission System

Thinking of putting fluid in a really dirty automated transmission (150,000+ miles) with black fluid? Not a good idea! Several transmission parts may have already been destroyed when the fluid smells burnt, seems too thick, or has a visible layer of deposits. Replacing only the fluid can cause the transmission to go out entirely.

Black transmission fluid
Do regular dipstick checking.

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New fluid can further degrade the system by transferring sludge into small crevices. The best thing to do in these cases would be to change the entire transmission system. It costs a ton of money, but at least the risk of a transmission failure in the middle of a highway won’t be there.

The Final Words

In a nutshell, if you see black transmission fluid, replace it with the right one, avoid flushing, and change all the transmission parts if there is a burnt smell. Use a dipstick to check the condition of the fluid at regular intervals.

Maintenance is the key. Apart from checking on the transmission system on a regular basis, you should change the fluid at every 50,000 – 60,000 miles, or at a shorter mileage if the Owner’s Manual instructs so.

2 Comments
  1. vumi says

    I want to know trasmision of toyota mark x wirch beter??

  2. vumi says

    hi friend I have a toyota mark x but i dont well trasmision oil for this car pleas help me

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