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What Fluid is Leaking from My Car, and is it Serious?

Sometimes your car will leak and leave ominous spots, puddles, or rivulets on the driveway. Fluids are essential to keep your car running in top shape. What fluid is it? How bad is it? Is the life blood slowly draining out of your vehicle? If you can decipher those mysteries spots, you will be able to tell if the leak is harmless or if you have a serious problem on your hands that requires auto repair in Holly, MI.

What is Leaking Out of My Car?
There are several things to think about when your car leaves a spot on the driveway: color, consistency, and location. If you notice a few spots, lay down newspaper, cardboard, or aluminum foil under your car in the evening. Allow your car to sit overnight. Then, in the morning, you can read the new spots and see where the leak is coming from, how much is leaking, and what kind of fluid it is–valuable information to you and your technician.

You can also check your reservoirs. Start by reading you owner’s manual to find out which fluids you can check and where you can find the tanks and reservoirs. Park your car on a level surface (if it is pointing up or down you will not get an accurate reading). Then, proceed to check your fluids once the engine is cold. Here is a list of possible fluids you might be leaking, what they look like, and how/if you can check them:

This is pretty easy to identify because you see it at the pumps every week. Does the puddle under your car smell like gas? There you have it! Your car isn’t likely to combust if you have a small gas leak. The biggest risk is paying more at the pumps. That said, it is still important to get an auto repair as soon as possible because there is an issue. If the puddle is near the front of your car, you might have something wrong with the fuel pump. If it is near the rear of your car, it could be the gas tank.

Coolant is one of the most common car leaks. This is a brightly colored fluid (usually neon green) that comes in a variety of colors. Antifreeze is often neon yellow, but might also be orange, green, pink or red. It has a thicker consistency and feels sticky. If you find antifreeze under your car it isn’t a huge problem as long as you still have plenty of coolant in your reservoir.

Engine Oil
Light brown or black stain with a medium consistency. A couple of drops is fairly normal, especially in older vehicles. However, anything larger and you should consider going in for an inspection and auto repair. To check engine oil, the dipstick, wipe it clean with a rag or paper towel, and reinsert it. Pull it out once more and look at it horizontally. You will see two indicator marks: one for high level and one for low level. Your oil mark should be between the two.

Transmission Fluid
This is a usually a reddish, light brown fluid leaking near the center of the vehicle. It might also appear brown and thick if it is old. These leaks might appear near the front or middle of your car. This fluid allows your car to smoothly shift gears, and if the lubricant runs out you, run the risk of grinding out the transmission. Like oil, you can also check your transmission fluid with a dipstick while the engine is warm.

Power Steering
This looks a lot like transmission fluid, but will leak near the front end of the vehicle. Unlike transmission fluid, which is a lubricant, this is a hydraulic pressure system. Without enough power steering fluid, you will need to put some muscle behind your turns. While you can still drive, it will get more and more laborious to turn as you lose more fluid.

Brake Fluid
If you see a yellowish, light brown stain that has a thicker consistency and is slippery, you likely are leaking brake fluid. This is a dangerous leak, and certainly something to worry about. If you see a puddle near the wheels or under the brake pedal, have your car towed to the lexus auto repair shop Ortonville, MI shop immediately. Do not try to drive there. The brakes work on a hydraulic pressure system. Without enough brake fluid you will experience a drop in pressure which can result in brake failure—dangerous not only for your, but others on the road. Luckily brake fluid leaks are rare in most modern cars.

Do you have a mystery stain on your driveway? Call Holly Tire today or visit us at 15140 N. Holly Rd. Holly, MI 48442. We can help you identify the fluid leak and get you in for auto repair quickly.


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