Common Automotive Fluids and Their Colors

Published on: August 1, 2020

We here at Primary Care Auto Repair think it’s wise to give our customers a little guide of the common fluids in their vehicles and what their colors are. This helps you identify the fluid leaking out of your car, truck, crossover, or SUV if you are unfortunate enough to end up with a leak. Keep in mind some of the automotive fluids in your vehicle might be the same color, so it could be hard to identify them without professional help. Here’s a rundown of the automotive fluids in your car and their colors.

Brake Fluid

Brake fluid runs the brown color spectrum of amber to black depending on its age and condition. Brake fluid just put into the braking system is new and will be amber or light brown. As the brake fluid ages, it turns dark brown to black. Some brake fluid is also yellow. All brake fluid is slick and oily.

Engine Coolant

Engine coolant is all kinds of colors so, thankfully, you can tell the color of the coolant in your automobile by popping the hood. Check the radiator overflow reservoir, which is clear. Whatever color the fluid is in the reservoir is your engine coolant color. Expect to see either blue, green, red, or yellow.

Motor Oil

The reason why we mentioned that brake fluid is slick and oily above is that motor oil is pretty much the same color as brake fluid. When new, your vehicle’s motor oil should be light brown. When old and dirty, it will be dark brown or black. The difference is motor oil isn’t as slick as brake fluid. Go figure!

Power Steering Fluid

Power steering fluid is red, so it might be difficult to tell if the fluid leaking out of your automobile onto your garage floor is power steering fluid or coolant (if your coolant is red, too). One way to tell is to locate the power steering reservoir in your motor to see if the fluid is leaking from underneath that or the radiator.

Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid is also red, but, thankfully, it leaks out of the transmission from the center of your vehicle rather than the front where your engine is. Bright red transmission fluid is new. Brown-to-black transmission fluid is old and should be changed. Pink transmission fluid means coolant is mixing with the fluid and you have serious automotive trouble.

Primary Care Auto Repair in Warwick, RI, can find your vehicle’s fluid leak and fix it. We can also replace the fluids when needed. 

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