The fluid in my kia's transmission

the car in question is a 2001 kia sportage 4x4 4 cyl mfi dohc eninge.ok of all the cars that i have helped work on my car has stumped me somewhat. i thought all if not most automatic transmission fluid is suppose to be a pretty decent red color. i was check both engine oil and trans oil and they both look about the same there isnt any red that i can tell in my trans fluid. my worry is that it might be burnt. can someone help me please!

Black colored transmission fluid indicates overheated or oxidized transmission fluid. I don’t suppose the transmission fluid was ever serviced since the vehicle was new?


i have no idea my mom bought it for me as i bday gift back in april of this year

When you don’t know the maintenance history of a vehicle, you have to assume that none of the normal maintenance was done. To back up that assumption, now you have observed graphic evidence of neglect of the transmission by the former owner(s).

I strongly suggest that you have the trans pan dropped and cleaned out, the filter (if so equipped) changed, and the fluid changed with the proper spec fluid. Don’t have it flushed unless it is done by a qualified independent transmission shop (NOT by a chain like AAMCO, Lee Myles, Cottman, Mr. Transmission, etc.) .

You can’t undo the damage that has been done by the previous owner(s), but if you service it promptly, you may be able to get more life out of that trans than if you ignore its needs.

ne clue about how much it would cost

Look to $150 or $175 or so.

its ok to do it my self isnt it? i just looked up everything and filter and fluid totals up to about 30 dollars. i guess the rest is labor price. but ya it is safe to do myself right

If you have sturdy, heavy-duty jack stands or ramps, then–yes, it is safe to do it yourself. If you intend to work underneath the vehicle with just a couple of regular jacks supporting the vehicle, don’t do it yourself!

Not to be mean, but I don’t think you should do this yourself, unless in a proper shop under the superviosion of a qualified transmission specialist. Transmissions are very expensive items, and yours has probably been neglected by the previous owner.

Sure you can do it yourself. But when you do a pan drop drain/fill, only 30% of the old fluid is replaced. The rest is still held in the torque converter/valve body. This is like doing an oil change on the engine where you just remove the oil filter, and then only add enough new oil to the crankcase where the oil level is correct once the new oil filter is filled once the engine starts. Not an oil change is it?

With the condition of the tranny fluid, the pan should be dropped to see if there’s damage to the transmission. If there is, then just button it up and start looking for a replacement tranny or vehicle. Then the fluid should be exchanged with a machine so that all the old transmission fluid is replaced.


to answer your first question no it is not an oil change but i do plan on doing it at same time and i have pretty good jackstands and a mechanically inclined dad who should help me. man next time if any one decides to get me a car as a present im gonna go with them so that i can look it over and take it to a mechanic.

like some of the ppl above said. my tranny might already be bad or be getting there at least. but the filter and oil change on should give me more life out of it correct?

If you don’t have a Haynes manual for this vehicle, then I suggest that you get one, even if your Dad is mechanically inclined. Better to go into the job knowing more about it, even if you think that you know everything involved in the procedure. If you wind up keeping the truck for an extended period of time, the manual will be a good investment.

Referring to Tester’s comments, it is true that the fluid change will get less than 50% of the old fluid out of the tranny, so if you do want to do this job yourself, you should repeat the fluid/filter change in a few weeks, and then perhaps again a few weeks after that. However, having the transmission fluid “exchanged” by a reliable independent transmission shop may wind up costing less than doing three fluid and filter changes yourself.

Bear in mind that all of this could be in vain, and you could still be looking at transmission failure no matter what you do regarding fluid changes or exchanges. In theory, fluid changes/exchange will give you more life from the transmission, but it is not a guarantee of this since nobody knows just how much damage has already been done to that transmission. If I was in your shoes, I would give the fluid changes/exchange a try, but I would bear in mind that this was still a gamble.

ya i understand and i probably will get a manual cause like you said its better to do the job right than to guess at it. man here i was thinking i wouildnt have to do much to this car and then i look at the fluid and its like this and i just realised something i looked at the fluid i think maybe 2 or 4 weeks ago and i believe it was red so it mustve been something recent that did it.

dang it i was gonna start upgrading it to get the best fuel and torque out of it but now i have to worry about my tranny greeeeat. my orig plan for it was to get thosae high end spark plugs for it then after i saved up some put cold air on it but apparently thats not going to happen lol.

High ended spark plugs are not a panacea, either. Go back to the owner’s manual and get all the services up to date first, and then decide if you want to upgrade. If this car has been neglected, you may be surprised in the improvements by just updating and keeping current the normal maintenance.

good point hopefully there isnt to many problems i mean like i said it runs pretty good just needs more acceleration and who knows maybe the things that i find will give me what it lacks guess we’ll find out