»

RepairPal Blog:

Mechanic's Corner

Common Fluid Leaks and What to Do About Them

(0) Comments Add a Comment »

When you go to start your car in the morning, you see a puddle of fluid underneath the vehicle. Maybe it's brown in color, or red. Maybe it looks oily or smells funny. No matter what the case, most of the time, puddles underneath your vehicle indicate that something is wrong.

If something has metal parts and moves, then fluid is most likely lubricating it. There are lots of moving parts in a car and many kinds of fluids. Fortunately, fluids differ in color, texture, and smell. Once you know what to look for, finding the source of your leak is much easier.

Here are examples of the most common types of fluid leaks:

Water
Clear, with a watery feel

Water from the AC or defroster system is one of the most common fluids you may find. Water is formed when moisture in the air comes into contact with the system and condenses. It usually drips under the center right or center left of the vehicle. This is a normal byproduct, and seeing this under your car is no cause for alarm.

Engine Oil
Commonly light to dark brown or black in color, engine oil feels slippery and may have a dirty, burnt-rubber smell

To check the engine oil level in your car, see your owner’s manual to locate the engine oil dipstick. If the oil level is low, but still registers on the dipstick, top off the oil at your earliest opportunity. Be sure to mention the leak at your next scheduled service. If the oil level does not register on the dipstick—before you drive the vehicle—add enough engine oil to reach the full level on the dipstick.

Coolant
Engine coolant is usually watery and slippery to the touch. It may be light green, yellow, pink, blue, or even purple. It usually drips near the front of the engine or beneath the radiator.

After the engine has cooled down (we hope you’re reading this first!), check the fluid levels in the radiator and coolant reservoir tank. If either is low, top them off with distilled water. Do not use tap water—it contains minerals that can lead to cooling system corrosion. The number one cause of serious engine damage is loss of coolant. If your car consistently loses fluid, contact your repair facility immediately.

Automatic Transmission/Power Steering Fluid
Reddish to reddish brown in color with an oily feel

These fluids can be similar and sometimes identical, so have a professional repair facility confirm the leak. Leaks are usually found under the transmission or transaxle. These fluids also may leak from a transaxle cooling line near the radiator.

Power steering fluid leaks are found under the front of the engine near the power steering pump or toward the rear of the engine at the steering rack. Check the fluid level. If it doesn’t register on the dipstick, immediately contact your repair facility. If fluid is still on the dipstick, top off the fluid, and monitor how much and how quickly it’s leaking. If there is regular loss, have your vehicle inspected by a professional.

For more information about additional, but less common, fluids, click here >>

Add a Comment (0) Comments