How To Identify What Fluid May Be Leaking From Your Car

Most car owners will see a puddle of fluid underneath their vehicle at one point or another. Not all leaks are serious or need the attention of a mechanic, but some are. Here’s how to identify what the leak under your car is.

Water

Water is the most common substance to leak from a vehicle. It’s usually a normal occurrence that’s caused by condensation from the car’s air conditioning system.

What to Look For

  • Clear in color

  • Thin, not viscous

Should You Worry?

No.


Oil

Oil is another common leak that vehicle owners notice, and while not an emergency, it’s less benign than leaking water. The oil in your engine keeps it lubricated so the friction of the moving parts does not cause the engine to seize up or start a fire.


What to Look For

  • Thin but syrupy consistency

  • Light brown to black in color


Should You Worry?

A little. Check your engine oil and replace oil that has leaked out until your dipstick shows the appropriate level. Then, schedule your vehicle to be serviced as soon as possible.


Antifreeze

An antifreeze or coolant leak can be concerning. Antifreeze helps regulate your vehicle’s temperature and without enough of it, your vehicle may overheat.


What to Look For

  • Yellow, pink, or green in color

  • Thin but sticky


Should You Worry

Yes. You can continue to refill your coolant as it leaks out, but antifreeze poses a danger to nearby animals and occasionally children. It’s extremely toxic, but tastes sweet and can be licked off the ground by animals or a child may touch the puddle under the car and lick their fingers. You should get a coolant leak repaired right away. 


Power Steering Fluid

Power steering fluid is a type of hydraulic fluid that helps a driver steer the vehicle with less effort. Without enough power steering fluid, you’ll find that you need more force to turn your wheel.

What to Look For

  • The leak coming from the front of the car

  • Thin liquid that isn’t sticky

  • Brown or red in color


Should You Worry?

Yes. The inability to properly steer your vehicle can potentially lead to an accident. If you continue to drive without enough fluid, you could damage internal systems that require expensive repair.


Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid is a critical fluid that allows your car’s transmission to shift gears. It also helps cool the transmission as it works.


What to Look For

  • A leak from the middle of the car

  • Thick and viscous in texture

  • Shades of brown and red in color


Should You Worry?

Moderately. This type of leak is likely due to a seal that needs repair. Don’t wait too long though — without enough transmission fluid, your car could break down and require a total transmission replacement.


Brake Fluid

Brake fluid helps your vehicle slow down, stop at stop signs and lights, or to avoid an accident.

What to Look For

  • Clear in color but may be light brown

  • An oily texture similar to glycerin or mineral oil

Should You Worry?

Absolutely. A brake fluid leak requires immediate attention. Stop driving your vehicle and call your mechanic right away — do not pass go, do not collect $200.


Got a Leak? Call CAMS Automotive Today

Does your car seem to have a leak? CAMS Automotive can help. Our experienced team of auto repair mechanics will perform a full diagnostic check on your vehicle so we can not only detect and repair the leak, but also alert you of any potential issues before they start.

Call us today to make your service appointment at 504-461-9838.