What Color Is Differential Fluid – Here Is The Way To Check Fluid Color Chart

To run the car smoothly during turns, you must know, “What color is differential fluid?”.

It is a mechanism that distributes vehicle power to the wheels and enables them to rotate at different rates on turns.

However, what does differential fluid do? This component will need the differential fluid to perform properly.

It keeps the differential operating at peak operation for an extended period of time. Differential oil, often known as gear oil, is located in the axle housing.

It is intended to work in conditions of high pressure instead of engine oil’s high temperatures. Let’s find out good differential fluid by its color below.

What Color Is Differential Fluid? 

what color is differential fluid
Differential Fluid Color

The front and rear differential fluid color has the appearance of engine oil. However, the engine oil is thinner. The differential fluids are classified into two categories.

Mineral oil, for example, is a natural fluid with medium amber color. The other type of differential fluid is synthetic, which is manufactured in a laboratory and has a darker color.

Vehicle users can easily make mistakes in identifying differential oil with brake fluid and automatic transmission fluid. They are not the same.

The hue of differential fluid is transparent pale golden. However, it degrades with time, and the differential oil color might change.

Which Main Colors Of Differential Fluid Color Chart? 

Differential fluids can vary in color for some reason. Over time, the color can change based on driving conditions like muddy or wet terrain

We may not detect any difference in the differential fluid unless there’s a fluid leak. That is the reason why you must undertake occasional maintenance.

Dark Brown Or Black Color

A black or dark differential fluid can indicate a cracked axle seal from which oil is escaping. Its smell is very strong, especially the one from the front end. 

The oil could emerge on the housing after passing through the car steering knuckles. Therefore, it can cause damage to the knuckles.

Gray Color

The appearance of oxidized or polluted dif fluid is light brown or dense sludge-like gray. This fluid would be polluted with muck or water.

When you see this color, you need to replace the fluid immediately.

It might also be caused by corrosion or peeling from the surrounding components. Thus, after some days of operation, it requires a replacement.

Green Color

The differential fluid might be transparent green. It could also become extremely green in appearance at times.

At this point, the oil is clear and free of contamination. Therefore you are not required to replace it just yet.

Golden Yellow Color 

The color of the manual differential fluid is often yellow or golden. It might become different at times. When the fluid color is golden or yellowish yet has a slight odor, you aren’t supposed to change it.

But you will need to once it has become milky or opaque from its actual transparent state.

Light Green Color 

The differential fluid can become a light green color, just like the color of pea soup. Regardless of the color, the fluid can become opaque or milky, and it is time to change it.

The milky alteration of car differential fluid, even when it stays quite identical to its original color, is unusual. It might be due to contamination, and you should replace the fluid immediately.

How To Check Differential Fluid Color Right

rear differential fluid color
Check Differential Fluid Color

If there is a leak in the fluid container, you must determine if it requires replacing. For checking differential fluid, you can follow the instruction below.

Step 1: Remove the engine bay’s differential fill plug.

Step 2: You can attempt to get to the fluid compartment floor with a dipstick or even the pinkie finger. You might just flex the finger and get to the oil.

Step 3: After obtaining the oil sample, users may now analyze the differential fluid quality in 2 ways.

Case 1: 

To execute the blotting paper inspection, you simply have to get blotting paper. Instead, you can also use a paper towel when there is no blotter.

You should put some drops of differential fluid on a piece of paper towel or blotting. The differences can be seen after around 30 seconds.

In case the paper is in an excellent state, the fluid should remain in the original hue and only spread a bit. However, after it’s turned wrong, it will become dark fluid.

It will also be sticky. As a result, you must clear the oil, replace the fluid, and, in certain circumstances, replace the filter.

Case 2:

In this case, it is just a simple scent test. Thus, you must smell and determine whether the differential fluid preserves its normal odor.

Overheating is the cause of a burned scent. Supposedly, the differential fluid is brown or black but not burned; the gasoline has oxidized and must be replaced.

When the automotive fluid appears original, it is safe to retain even if it has a minor odor.

Nevertheless, you must replace the bad fluid as soon as possible when the color becomes black, whitish green, or gray with a strong smell. It is the most prevalent sign, especially in the front.

Outstanding Signs Of The Low Level Of Differential Fluid

You must maintain optimal fluid levels for good car performance. You can follow the guidance here to check the fluid level.

Oil Smell When Running Or Burning The Vehicles

The odor indicates that the diff or tranny is overheated due to insufficient lubrication. The fluid might be low or too old to effectively lubricate the parts.

Besides, using the wrong oil, like transmission fluid, can also cause a bad smell.

As a result, there will be rubbing among metals, resulting in increased friction and metal shaving in the gearbox. If you observe a faulty or low fluid level, remove it and change it with new oil.

Overheating Fluid When Operating The Engine

A differential will overheat due to a variety of circumstances. Some reasons involve employing low diff oil, low level, incorrect fluid type, high bearing preload, overburden equipment, and damaged bearings.

No matter the reason, it is a sign of poor differential fluid.

Strange Noise From The Internal Engine

A strange whining sounds from either the rear or front differential is a frequent indicator of low fluid level. You’ll hear a progressive change in those noises, whether turning, decelerating, or accelerating.

A low fluid level or a worn-out bearing generally produces a grinding noise from beneath a car.

Engine Vibrations When Using

Vibrations while traveling are a sign of a faulty differential fluid. The differential may be low or wearing out.

However, the vibration can also be caused by some different malfunctioning components. So, it is essential to consult a skilled automotive technician to locate and repair the problem.

Cost To Change The Differential Fluid

Differential fluid replacement is a simple task. It entails uninstalling the differential cover to empty the oil and replenishing the fluid.

It is inexpensive to update due to its simplicity. The typical cost of changing the differential fluid is between $80 and $90.

After refilling the fluid, the technician may recommend additional maintenance tasks.

How Often Does The Fluid Color Level Change?

differential fluid color
Fluid Color Level Change

The manufacturer determines the answer. For the correct service period, you should consult the owner’s handbook.

Also, it depends on where you frequently drive the automobile and its state. In most situations, the differential fluid should be changed after you drive between 30,000 and 50,000 miles.

Since metal contact generates heat through friction, it’s critical to maintain optimal differential fluid. It can wear out and damage gears. It can result in differential malfunction, which is expensive repairs.


When Should Drivers Change The Differential Fluid?

Throughout the procedures, the oxidized or polluted differential fluid gives some symptoms.

You will experience any of these differences: tainted oil with metal shards, buzzing and grinding sounds, low oil levels, vibrations, and so on.

These symptoms may also signal other issues with other engine components. You must inspect all of the truck’s diff fluid colors and other parts in the car.

What Does Rear Differential Fluid Do In The Car?

Vehicles with rear-wheel drive do not have a front differential. A transaxle, a transmission component, will be used in a front-wheel drive vehicle.

The differential will be in the back of the rear-wheel drive vehicle. Four-wheel drive vehicles feature differentials in both the back and front. Rear diff fluid is applied in rear-wheel drive automobiles.

Is It Safe To Use The Car With The Low Differential Fluid?

Postponing differential fluid replacement might cause several issues. The differential will wear out more quickly than normal when there is insufficient fluid, or the fluid is polluted.

It could also heat up, resulting in unwanted safety hazards and, eventually, a costly damaged differential.


Now you have the answer to the question, “what color is differential fluid?” Regularly checking the differential fluid color will help you avoid serious harm

The differential fluid color chart above helps you identify the color your differential fluid should be and why it is that hue.

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