What’s Leaking From Your Car?

August 21,2013

motor oil car leaking

Have you ever noticed a dark puddle on the pavement where your car was parked? Engines use a number of different fluids to operate. And it’s not always easy for the average driver to tell what’s leaking.

Looking under the hood may not help you out much either. Unfortunately, there are no flashing lights pointing to the problem. So how can you tell what’s going on? Start by using your senses to identify the sight, smell, and texture of the stain.

Let’s review the usual suspects:

Red, thick, and has a strange smell?

This is transmission fluid. It cools down and lubricates your transmission so the gears shift easily. You’ll want to get this fixed right away. Running out of fluid can wreak havoc on your transmission. And replacing your transmission isn’t cheap.

Yellow and slightly thick?

You’re dealing with a hydraulic fluid leak, coming either from your power steering or your brakes. This is one of the most dangerous leaks you can have. Play it safe, and don’t even try driving your vehicle. Just get it towed to a professional right away.

Blue (or green or orange), watery, and smells clean?

Your windshield wiper fluid is leaking. While this isn’t dangerous, it can be a nuisance. What you’ll want to do is check your fluid reservoir to make sure there are no loose hoses or cracks in the tank. Once you’re sure the reservoir is fine, you can stock up on more windshield wiper fluid at your nearest gas station. 

Green or pink, sticky, and smells sweet?

You’ve got yourself a coolant leak. Coolant is important to your engine because it prevents overheating. But it’s not something you want to check if you’ve been running your engine. It has the potential to splash and burn you. Leaking coolant is also a danger for animals. That’s because it’s sweet and tempting to drink, but very, very toxic. Take care of coolant leaks promptly. You really don’t want your car to overheat and leave you standing by the side of the road. And you certainly don’t want any unfortunate accidents with your pets. 

Dark brown and smells a bit like gas?

Oil is the likely culprit. It’s also the most common engine leak. Many older cars have small oil leaks and still run fine, but this is the kind of leak you want to ask a professional about. Oil is an engine’s life blood, and you don’t want to replace your engine – that’s an expensive repair. To prevent this problem, remember to change your oil and your oil filter regularly.

Light brown and smells a lot like gas?

To state the obvious, your car is leaking gas. If the leak is near the back of your car, your gas tank is the problem. But if it’s nearer to the engine, you’ve got fuel pump trouble. Gas leaks can be fairly simple to fix. But gasoline is quite flammable, so get this taken care of right away.

Watery and odorless?

This is only water from your air conditioning unit and nothing to worry about. It’s simply condensation. 

As you can see, some of the above leaks are harmless and easy to fix. But for the rest, stop by Veenstra’s for a 22-point inspection. We’ll do whatever we can to get you and your vehicle road-ready.