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2011 Buick Regal - black transmission fluid

My 2011 Buick Regal has only 45,800 miles on it. Recent oil change included a 10-point check. Mechanic brought to the waiting room a paper cup with sample of transmission fluid that was dark black. He said he has never seen tranny fluid this color in a car with so few miles. His research recommended NO flush because debris in fluid may cause damage. First required transmission service on this car is at 50K miles according to owner’s manual. Anyone out there have this issue? I would welcome helpful feedback. Not at all sure what to do.

Follow your mechanics recommendation.It’s not only the mileage, but also the 9 years the fluid been sitting there inside the transmission. Once he opens the pan he can see whether or not there is debris in the pan. He might want to change his mind once he changes the fluid.


Was this a quicky lube, or a mechanic you trust? It’s not easy to get tranny fluid in a cup, common scam at lube shops is to show nasty fluid that never was in your car.


If you cannot do this yourself I would advise having someone you know check the fluid and verify that it is actually black. I’m a bit skeptical as this kind of “dark fluid in a cup” has been used before to scare people into something they may not want.

Fast lube facility?


I agree, I’m skeptical of the dark fluid in the cup, especially if this is a quick lube place. But, I’m not against a trans fluid change at 50k miles anyway - done somewhere other than a quick lube joint.


Drop the pan

drain the fluid

replace the filter and gasket

Put the pan back

refill with fresh Dexron 6

Move on

I suspect there’s nothing wrong with your automatic transmission


Trans fluid is black?
I would check oil now. Is it red?
Sure you don’t own a Subaru?

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The car has almost 50K miles . . . I would expect the atf to be pretty dark by now

Again . . . I highly suspect there is absolutely nothing wrong with your automatic transmission

I’m assuming the transmission was shifting just fine before you brought it in for service . . . ?!

If so, there’s no reason to think it won’t continue to do so with a fresh gasket, filter and fluid . . .

Almost any auto I have ever owned , if it was running ok it was still clear and red even at 100000 miles .

I agree it sounds shakey . They also will do this with either your air filter or cabin filter . They will bring you a filthy filter but the filter did not actually come from your car . But most people do not know that and will just take their word . People should learn how to change air and cabin filters themselves and save money . Usually they are pretty easy . One of the reasons I dont like what they are doing now with the tranny dipstick and not having a dipstick anymore. No easy way to look at the condition of the oil . One reason to have it done at 100-120K miles if you are just a normal driver . May need it more often if you tow or 4 wheel into dusty areas .

I thought the same at first, but a franchise place would have highly recommended a flush and make an extra $100

my experience differs greatly from yours

On many/most of the vehicles I’ve worked on professionally, the fluid was quite dark by the time the factory replacement interval had been reached

yet in spite of the dark fluid, there was almost never anything wrong with these automatic transmissions. And these are vehicles that see hard fleet use

A notable exception to the above statements was Allison transmissions, but those are typically only found on vehicles that are class 4 or above. On those, for some reason the fluid doesn’t seem to get very dark, even when it’s time for service by elapsed mileage

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I remember years ago I was taking my then-girlfriend down to Shenandoah to hike and I decided to wash her car at one of our local car wash and garage places (they actually have a full service center and can do PA state inspection/emissions) and have them do an oil change at the same time. They tried to pull that one on me. Fortunately I had previously read her entire manual and knew that the Focus was a PZEV model and didn’t have a regular air filter…the look on his face when I asked him to pop the hood and show me where the filter was was absolutely priceless. 10 years later my girlfriend is my wife, the Focus has 203k miles with few repairs needed over the years, and nobody else has changed the oil besides me since that time.

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Before you do anything else. Check the fluid yourself. See your selling dealer too.

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I wouldn’t flush anything but the toilet. Everyone’s advice is good, If it comes down to it later and you’re worried, there is nothing wrong with a straight fluid change. I can see dropping a line into a dip stick tube or filler plug…but really, who does that with so few miles, the level is up and no performance complaints. Be suspicious !

Not even DOT3 brake fluid . . . ?!

I’m sure 15yr old brake fluid is just as good as new, right . . . ?! :wink: