Is Transmission Fluid Corrosive to Paint? [ANSWERED]

Is transmission fluid corrosive to paint? The short answer: Yes, transmission fluid can be corrosive to paint. With that said, it’s important to know exactly what type of transmission fluid you have and the level of corrosion it contains before you jump to any conclusions about your situation.

Is Transmission Fluid Corrosive to Paint?

Yes, transmission fluid is corrosive. If you paint your car and get some of it on your car, be prepared for rust spots to form from where you painted over some transmission fluid.

It is recommended that you remove all traces of transmission fluid from your painted surfaces before starting any painting project to avoid any issues with corrosiveness or accidental chemical interactions with other paints.

Whether transmission fluid is corrosive or not depends on what kind of transmission fluid you use.

There are a variety of types of transmission fluids with different chemical properties, some more corrosive than others.

One of transmission fluid’s primary roles is as a lubricant, so any type of transmission fluid will have a certain level of corrosiveness.

This level is still low enough that it won’t damage your paint or your car if you are using approved brands, but will eventually cause rust spots on painted surfaces where it accumulates.

Is Transmission Fluid Corrosive To Plastic?

Yes. Transmission fluid can indeed be harmful if it comes into contact with plastic, so you should avoid transmission fluid leaks as much as possible.

If you accidentally get transmission fluid on your car’s carpet or other parts of your vehicle, you may need to wash and rinse it off immediately to prevent damage.

While transmission fluid can damage some types of plastics if left on them for an extended period, many plastics will not be harmed by exposure to an excess amount of transmission fluid.

Depending on what type of transmission fluid you use, there may be a label warning against using it with plastic components.

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In general, automatic transmission fluid is not corrosive and should not cause any damage if you have a transmission fluid leak.

If you do get transmission fluid on your vehicle’s carpet or seats, try washing it off as soon as possible so that it doesn’t have time to soak into them.

How to Protect Car Paint from Corrosion of Transmission Fluid?

Because of its chemical makeup, transmission fluid is corrosive to paint.

To protect your car’s paint from corrosion damage caused by transmission fluid, you’ll need to rinse off any areas that might come into contact with it (such as the undercarriage).

You can do so using a hose or pressure washer.

Washing away transmission fluid before it has a chance to pool and corrode paint is ideal.

However, it’s impossible to guarantee every drop of transmission fluid will be removed before it causes damage, especially if you drive under wet conditions.


In addition, even low levels of corrosion can cause paint discoloration in small areas which may not be visible without close inspection (such as swirl marks on your vehicle’s clear coat).

Does Brake Fluid Damage Paint?

The short answer is No, but it might leave you wondering what it is that damages your car’s paint.

There are many kinds of chemicals on cars both from the factory and added later that can potentially damage paint over time.

Both brake fluid and transmission fluid are present in vehicles for more than just stopping your car; they help start engines, too.

That said, neither of these fluids will do any harm to your paint job as long as you properly maintain both yourself.

Does Power Steering Fluid Damage Paint?

Power steering fluid is designed not to damage the paint.

It’s typically non-corrosive, and it shouldn’t damage your car’s finish if you use an approved power steering fluid in a good-quality power steering system.

If you’re using an old power steering fluid or if there’s something wrong with your power steering system, like a leak, then transmission fluid could damage your paint. Keep in mind that every car is different, so you should always check your owner’s manual to learn more about what fluids are safe for your vehicle.

Does Gear Oil Damage Paint?

There are no known cases of gear oil damaging paint. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen in extreme situations.

Gear oil (or axle lubricant) is a blend of mineral oil and some additive package (typically sulfur-based). It’s used in limited-slip differentials and hypoid gear sets.

The additive package, often in combination with heat, can be corrosive to paint. Even though it’s used for limited-slip applications.

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Is Automatic Transmission Fluid Conductive?

Like most fluids, automatic transmission fluid is conductive. The higher its electrical resistance, however, generally means it’s more corrosive and will eventually erode the metal.

That’s why all transmissions should have a protective liner over their exterior surfaces. After all, you don’t want acid leaking out of your transmission onto your car paint and eating through it in just a few weeks!

What happens If You Spilled Transmission Fluid?

If you spill transmission fluid on your paint, it’s going to cause damage.

You can try buffing out most fluids with polish and compound or even by hand with a rubbing compound, but in some cases, you may need professional help.

When transmission fluid evaporates, it can leave behind a sticky residue that’s impossible to remove. Even worse, if it dries and hardens before you notice it, you may have ruined your paint.

Is ATF Oil Corrosive?

Ask any mechanic and they’ll tell you that transmission fluid (ATF) is not only safe on paint, but it can help extend its lifespan.

ATF contains no acids, so there is no corrosive effect at all. Some people even use ATF to detail their cars, swiping a rag dipped in it across the paint for a slick, clean finish!

What Fluids Can Damage Car Paint?

Several fluids can damage a car’s paint job if it is splashed on or allowed to sit for long periods.

Two of these fluids are transmission fluid and automatic transmission fluid, both of which can be found under your car’s hood.

A third is brake fluid, which generally resides in your vehicle’s braking system but could also find its way onto painted surfaces due to leaky brake lines or calipers.

Gear oil is also harmful if splashed on or allowed to sit. This lubricant exists inside your vehicle’s transmission gears and differentials and helps them move smoothly while turning. If gear oil leaks onto a painted surface, it could cause permanent damage.

ALSO SEE: Beginning SRT Gear List

What Can I Put On My Car To Ruin Paint?

Okay, I’m not saying that transmission fluid will ruin your paint. But when it comes to what you put on your car, there are two general rules: keep it clean, and stay away from solvents and paints that don’t need them.

Let’s start with solvents. Your transmission has many moving parts, some of which generate a considerable amount of heat, which is why it needs fluid in the first place.

Does ATF Eat Plastic?

Automotive transmission fluid (ATF) contains detergents and special additives that are not toxic to paint.

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However, since transmission fluid is a solvent, it can dissolve some plastics. If you plan on using ATF in your car’s automatic transmission and you have an aftermarket body kit with vinyl side moldings or plastic panels, check with your auto-body shop before pouring. These parts may suffer damage when exposed to ATF for long periods.

Is Transmission Fluid Flammable?

Compared to gasoline, transmission fluid is not as flammable.

It has a flashpoint of about 220 degrees Fahrenheit (105 degrees Celsius), and gas is around 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius).

If you spill transmission fluid on your paint job, it’s possible that heat from a nearby engine or exhaust could start a fire. However, modern cars are designed with fire-safety features that reduce these risks.

Is Transmission Fluid Hazardous?

Automotive fluids are a necessary part of any car, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t potentially dangerous.

If you’re driving around with transmission fluid in your coolant reservoir, for example, then you have yourself a problem.

Not only does transmission fluid lower your engine temperature (i.e., it has anti-freeze qualities), but it also has chemicals that could damage your paint job if you spill it on there.

At What Temperature Does Transmission Fluid Start To Burn?

The boiling point of automatic transmission fluid (ATF) is around 340°C, which is well above any normal operating temperature in a car.

While burning transmission fluid won’t necessarily damage paint, its high sulfur content will produce a foul odor, so it’s not something you want happening all over your engine bay.

On top of that, when ATF does burn it leaves behind an oily residue that can be difficult to clean off painted surfaces or plastic trim pieces.

What Color Should Transmission Fluid Be?

Check your car owner’s manual for information on what color transmission fluid should be.

It is typically clear or light yellow but can be any color. Transmissions use many different types of transmission fluid, and they are often proprietary blends so they can’t be interchanged between vehicles.

Some manufacturers will even change fluid color from model year to model year because of slight improvements in their formulations.

What does GREY transmission fluid mean?

This is not a new problem, but if you have been around cars for a while, then you should know what I am talking about.

If someone tells you that their transmission fluid is grey it means that it has broken down and become corroded.

Being able to recognize symptoms such as these early on can help prevent a major transmission rebuild in your future.

Is it Bad If My Transmission Fluid Is Brown?

This can be a sign of degradation, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you change your car’s transmission fluid regularly (every 30,000 miles or so), then discoloration may simply indicate that you have an older vehicle.

Transmission fluid turns brown as it ages; many people also add transmission-damping fluids when they change their vehicles’ fluids, which can turn them brown.

Is Tranny Fluid Orange?

The transmission fluid in your car is a hydraulic fluid, which is dyed orange to make it easier for mechanics and consumers alike to see when it’s leaking.

This dye can, however, cause damage to paint and other surfaces if left on for long periods. The primary ingredient in most transmission fluids is boron, which acts as a corrosion inhibitor in non-transmission applications.

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