Why Is My Car Leaking – Is It Serious?

There’s a puddle under your car. It’s too late to un-see what you just saw. Do you ignore it and stay on task with your already-too-hectic schedule, or does this merit a complete work stoppage to investigate? Well, if you choose to ignore it, your car may seize to a permanent halt a few miles down the road so it’s important to know what may be leaking from your car. You can start first by identifying the fluid’s color.

  • Light Brown: If there is a bad smell associated with this fluid, you could be leaking gear lubricant. If it smells like gasoline, it’s probably gasoline. Another possibility is that it could be recently added motor oil, but this won’t really have a smell unless it is burning. Brake fluid can also be light brown (sometimes clear or yellowish). If you suspect you are leaking brake fluid, it may not be safe to drive your car (have it towed) due to the possibility of imminent brake failure. For other suspected oil leaks, it is best to bring your car in for a checkup immediately.
  • Dark Brown: There are several fluids that could turn dark brown due to age. Old motor oil will turn thick and black, as well as other aged fluids that should be checked. Bring the car in for a check-up to make sure there are no other issues that would cause oil to leak.
  • Red / Pink: The transmission and power steering system could be the culprit here. It’s best to get an evaluation to fix the leak which could be caused by a faulty transmission seal, or a hole in the line that feeds fluid between the two systems.
  • Orange / Amber: If the transmission fluid is old and has not been properly maintained, it could appear orange. Also, rust in the radiator can cause leaks, as well as turn antifreeze or condensation into an orange-tinted fluid.
  • Yellow: It’s a safe bet that this is radiator coolant. There may be a loose hose clamp or a damaged o-ring. Be sure you are using the manufacturer’s recommended coolant, or leaks are more likely to occur.
  • Green: Antifreeze is usually the culprit when you see green fluids puddling up under your car. This can happen if you use the wrong type of antifreeze for your vehicle. It can also be due to worn out components like hoses, fittings, clamps, or the water pump.
  • Blue: Sometimes your wiper fluid reservoir and tubing will wear out and cause leaks. This won’t affect the operation of your vehicle like the other fluids will, but it will affect your safety due to how well you are able to see out the windshield. This issue is one of the easier ones to fix.
  • Clear: This one is the most benign of all. Clear fluid leaking from your vehicle is typically condensation from your air conditioning system, and it won’t interfere with your day.

If you don’t already do spot-checks, it would be good to make a habit of glancing under your vehicle to see if you spot any reflective pools of fluid. If so, do your best to identify what the fluid is so you can determine the severity of the issue.

The quicker you spot potential problems, the quicker they can be resolved. Catching it early will also greatly reduce potential repair costs. At Kwik Kar, we want you to be in-the-know about how to best care for your vehicle. So if you’ve sprung a leak, don’t ignore it. Bring your car in today and we’ll get that leak all dried up and have you back on schedule in no time.