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Is Transmission Fluid Flammable? What You Need to Know

Are you considering transmission fluid for your vehicle’s needs? If so, you might be wondering – is transmission fluid flammable? Well, not all varieties of transmission fluid are created equal, and some types of this important liquid can pose a fire hazard if handled incorrectly. That’s why it’s important to understand the facts about transmission fluid type and safety before making your purchase decision.

Read on to learn more about the flammability of popular brands of transmission fluids as well as preventative measures that can help keep both you and your drivetrain safe while using them!

How Flammable is Transmission Fluid?

When handling transmission fluid in an automatic gearbox, you can feel at ease knowing that it’s generally safe and not highly susceptible to catching fire, thanks to its high flashpoint of 302°F to 383°F (150 – 195°C). This means that, under normal conditions, transmission fluid is not flammable and has a low risk of combustion.

However, it’s essential to remain vigilant, as there are unique situations where transmission fluid can still catch fire. For instance, during high-impact collisions or persistent, substantial leaks, the fluid may come into contact with a scorching surface and ignite, leading to hazardous consequences.

What is the Flash Point of Transmission Fluid?

Knowing the flashpoint of transmission fluid is essential for understanding the safety and operating conditions of your vehicle. Transmission fluid has a flashpoint range that can vary from 302°F to 383°F (150 – 195°C), which primarily depends on the additives used in the formulation.

Although this high flashpoint renders transmission fluid combustible rather than flammable, it is somewhat less likely to ignite as the primary source of a vehicle fire. Instead, it typically contributes to the spread of an ongoing fire once the heat levels surpass its flashpoint.

Is Transmission Fluid Flammable?

Yes, transmission fluid is flammable and can combust when exposed to high temperatures. However, it is more combustible than easily flammable due to the high temperature necessary for its flammability. Contact with heated surfaces like exhaust pipes or engine blocks can ignite the fluid.

Can Transmission Fluid Auto-ignite?

The phenomenon of autoignition can be quite intriguing, particularly when considering its relationship with various types of fluids present in your car, such as transmission fluid. Under specific conditions and at a certain temperature, transmission fluid may spontaneously ignite, even in the absence of a flame or spark.

It’s essential to understand that the ability of a material to auto-ignite is greatly influenced by factors such as altitude, humidity, and atmospheric pressure.

For example, when transmission fluid is subjected to a sealed heated container, its autoignition temperature can decrease to below 600°F (316°C), compared to its documented 900°F (482°C) when exposed to a heated catalytic converter. This is due to the high temperatures providing the necessary activation energy for combustion, leading to autoignition.

What Causes Transmission Fluid to Overheat?

Is Transmission Fluid Flammable (1)
Is Transmission Fluid Flammable (1)

Several factors can cause the fluid to overheat, which is essential to understand if you want to avoid costly repairs. One major reason for this issue is low fluid levels, often resulting from leaks in the system.

Another primary cause is using burned, old, or dirty fluid, as it can’t provide the necessary lubrication and cooling functions. Additionally, solenoid problems can also contribute to overheating, as it becomes harder for the transmission to shift gears smoothly.

Related: Transmission Fluid Leak When Parked

How hot can automatic transmission fluid get?

The temperature of an automatic transmission can actually get quite hot, reaching195°F with normal operation. In situations where it is pulling a large load from a standing stop, the temperature could skyrocket to more than 350°F. There is an additional concern that arises with too high temperatures- Is transmission fluid flammable?

While the answer is technically yes, the generally accepted operating temperature for most vehicles’ transmissions keeps it in a non-flammable range. Knowing this information should give you some peace of mind when driving your vehicle.

What Car Fluids Are Flammable?

With so many different car fluids on the market, it can be difficult to keep track of what is flammable and what is not. Thankfully, there are only a handful of fluids that you will need to think about when it comes to fire safety. What Car Fluids Are Flammable? The answer may surprise you:

1. Gasoline và diesel fuel.

2. Engine oil.

3. Automatic transmission fluid.

4. Brake fluid.

5. Power steering fluid.

6. Coolant.

7. Windshield washer fluid.

8. Refrigerants và lubricants.

When dealing with any of these types of fluids in your car, please make sure that you are taking the necessary precautions such as storing them in sealed containers away from sources of heat or flame.

Can I Put Transmission Fluid in a Hot Car?

When determining the optimal time to add transmission fluid to your car, it is crucial to avoid extremely hot or cold temperatures, as this can affect the performance and longevity of your vehicle’s transmission system. Often, you’ll find markings on the dipstick to help guide you, such as “Cold,” “Warm,” “Add,” and “Full.”

Ideally, you should aim for the fluid level to be within the “Warm” range. However, in some instances, you may encounter a dipstick without any labels. In such cases, pay close attention to the dots, notches, or lines that indicate the desired fluid level range.

It’s important to remember that each car is unique, so it’s best to refer to your specific manufacturer’s recommendations. A common guideline shared by many carmakers is to add transmission fluid while the engine is running, as fluid expands when heated. By adhering to this practice, you can prevent overfilling your transmission and maintain optimal vehicle performance.

How To Store Transmission Fluid Safely?

Ensuring the safe storage of transmission fluid is vital to maintaining its longevity, which ultimately allows you to get the most out of this essential automotive product. We all want to avoid wasting both money and resources, so it’s important to meet the recommended storage conditions of a dry area with a temperature range between 50-77°F (10-25°C).

One of the key factors to remember is the type of container that holds the fluid, as this can greatly influence its shelf life. Whenever possible, it’s always best to stick with the original packaging, which usually includes crucial information such as manufacturing and expiration dates.

By adhering to these guidelines and keeping your fluid containers securely closed and sealed, you can rest easy knowing that your transmission fluid will be reliably effective up to its intended service life of around five years from its manufacturing date.

Related: How Often to Change Transmission Fluid

Things to Consider When Selecting a Container for Fluid Storage

Is Transmission Fluid Flammable (2)
Is Transmission Fluid Flammable (2)

1. Use a Metal Container

When searching for the perfect container for fluid storage, a hermetically sealed metal container should be your top choice. The reason being, UV radiation can have quite a detrimental impact on transmission fluid properties, and metal canisters effectively shield the contents from such harm.

2. Avoid Glass Containers

Glass containers may seem like an eco-friendly and attractive option, but they can actually compromise the quality of the fluid. Glass is more prone to breaking and cracking than other materials, and even a tiny crack can lead to glass fragments contaminating the fluid. This contamination can cause detrimental effects on the performance of your vehicle, leading to costly repairs and potential hazards.

3. Don’t Use Plastic Containers

When dealing with any type of automotive fluid, it’s best to avoid plastic containers. While they may be more affordable and easier to come by than metal canisters, plastics can easily deteriorate over time due to exposure to air, temperature fluctuations, and other environmental factors.

4. Use a Label for Easy Identification

It’s easy to forget which type of fluid is inside a container if you store multiple liquids in the same area or keep multiple vehicles’ fluids organized. To make life simpler, try using labels on each container that clearly describe its contents so that you’ll know exactly what is stored where at all times!

FAQs about Is Transmission Fluid Flammable?

What Should I Do If My Transmission Fluid Is Burnt?

It’s a common question that arises when the transmission is starting to overheat. When this happens, you should always have it inspected by a reliable mechanic as they can identify any potential issues with the gears.

The most likely cause is either a depleted or poor quality transmission fluid, both of which are easy fixes. Replacing the fluid with a better quality one is often all that’s needed to get your vehicle back up and running.

How hot can synthetic transmission fluid get?

When it comes to the durability and efficiency of synthetic transmission fluid, it’s truly impressive just how advanced it has become today. As a buyer, you can feel confident knowing that almost all transmission fluid is now either synthetic or a synthetic blend, making it capable of comfortably handling temperatures up to 250°F.

This high heat resistance means that your vehicle’s transmission will be better protected during those long drives, challenging off-road excursions, or even moments of intense bumper-to-bumper traffic.

What color does transmission fluid burn?

A healthy transmission fluid should be relatively clear or slightly pinkish in hue, allowing your transmission to function smoothly. If you’re experiencing issues with your transmission and notice that the fluid is a deep red or brown color, then it’s time for some maintenance!

Old transmission fluid can cause additional damage to the integral components of your transmission system. In fact, if the fluid appears to be dark brown, this could indicate that it has been burnt from overheating, which is a clear signal that your vehicle requires immediate attention.

Can a transmission oil cause a fire?

While it might not be the first thing that comes to mind when considering vehicle fires, transmission oil can indeed be responsible for such occurrences. When the transmission oil heats up, expansion occurs, sometimes to the point where the oil is forced out through the dipstick tube.

From there, it only takes a hot surface, like an exhaust manifold or a turbocharger, to ignite the oil and trigger a fire, typically within the engine compartment.


Thank you for reading! We hope that this article was helpful in teaching you is transmission fluid flammable

In conclusion, transmission fluid is flammable and it can burn, although it needs to reach a very high flash point in order for it to auto-ignite. You should never put transmission fluid into a hot car as this can make the fluid overheat which increases the risk of fire or explosion. It’s also important to know that certain other car fluids are also flammable, so take time when refilling vehicles to ensure you use the right products.

Finally, remember when selecting a container for storing transmission fluid that you need something strong and secure that won’t react with the chemical elements of the liquid. With all these precautions in mind you can work on your car safe in the knowledge that there is no risk of an accidental spark causing an unexpected fire hazard.

Timothy Ballard

I’m Timothy Ballard, owner of a used car dealership in Springfield. I love just about everything automotive, but I have a special place in my heart for trucks. I’m an ASE Certified Master Technician, so I know my way around a car. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling with my family and hiking new trails.

1 thought on “Is Transmission Fluid Flammable? What You Need to Know”

  1. Cooler lines can potentially cause issues, such as leakage onto a hot exhaust pipe or extreme cases where the transmission is overloaded to the point of fluid ignition. This is evident in incidents I have witnessed in Monster Trucks.


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