Black Transmission Fluid

The topic of this article is issues with car transmissions. The car owner in this article has found black transmission fluid and wants to know what to do about it. See what the Honest Mechanic says and see what you should do if you find yourself in the same situation.

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Reader Question

Hi Austin,

A couple of times, I had a bit of a delay engaging into reverse in my 1990 Mercedes 300e with 200K miles. Automatic transmission fluild is black. Otherwise car runs great. Gave
this car to my daughter to go around town.

Can you tell me.

Is it safe?

Can I do damage to the car tranny by waiting to do a tranny job.

Will a tranny service help?

How long before the tranny dies/

Thanks much. I'm not sure if I should spend 2500 on a tranny job or if I can keep it around for a couple of years till my daugher goes to college.

thanks again

Lew

Hi there Lew,

If you are experiencing a transmission problem, like a slip, It is normally advisable to NOT change the transmission fluid unless you are prepared to overhaul the transmission. I have serviced the fluid and filter on 2 vehicles that drove into my shop but did not drive out.

The transmission fluid was burnt smelling and very dirty and the vehicles had high mileage on them. The dirty gritty fluid was the only thing the transmission had to produce the friction needed to move the vehicle.

With that being said, do you feel comfortable with your daughter driving a vehicle that possibly will require a transmission overhaul away from home where you can’t look at the mechanic eye to eye yourself? Personally, a soon to be 17 year old vehicle with the signs of an upcoming EXPENSIVE transmission overhaul...I would sell in a heart beat. Take the money from the sale and use it to buy her a new 2006 Kia Rio, and super great kids car. Kia might even have 0% interest financing.

To read the full article, visit Myhonestmechanic.com
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