What fluid is leaking from your car? Here at Sundance Automotive in Westminster, we know that leaks can signal a problem with your vehicle, but figuring out what is leaking and where the leak is coming from can take a bit of investigative work. Leaks can be the start of trouble and if ignored, can be costly to you and dire for your vehicle.
Here are a few tips that can help you figure out what fluid is leaking from your car.
The appearance of engine oil changes with age. After an oil change, new oil is light brown. Older engine oil will look black. If this fluid is leaking from your car, engine oil will leave an oil stain where it is parked. Engine oil has an greasy texture but each brand has a different smell so you may need to check out your dipstick and compare scents to confirm that your engine oil is the source of the leak.
Engine oil leaks can stem from the oil filter, the timing cover, sump pump, and head gasket. A small leak (like a few drops weekly) can be somewhat normal for vehicles with high mileage. It is a good idea to check the oil levels on such a vehicle and be sure the oil gets topped off when needed. Larger leaks will need a visit to your mechanic for repair.
Depending on the age and condition of your transmission fluid, its appearance may be pink, red, or brown. Transmission fluid has an oily texture that is frequently mistaken for engine oil. Transmission fluid leaks are much more common in automatic transmissions than in manual transmissions. The output shaft and axle seal are common sources of transmission leaks, but having a professional examine your vehicle is helpful for finding the true problem.
If the fluid looks like cooking oil and is pale amber or clear, then it is likely brake fluid. It is the only vehicle fluid has this appearance. The master cylinder, brake caliper seals, and flex lines are the likely culprits.
Before driving your car to your mechanic, check your brake fluid level and top it off if needed. Start up your vehicle and pump your brakes while still in park. Turn your car off and check the level again to help you determine if you have a leak and how much of a problem it is. If you have a large leak, you may not be able to limp your car safely to the mechanic. You may need to have it towed.
If you suspect that you have a brake fluid leak or are leaking a different fluid, have a professional check out your car immediately for your safety while driving. If you need a mechanic to check your vehicle’s issue, contact us here at Sundance Automotive in Westminster. We can figure out what needs to be done to stop your fluid leak.
Coolant/anti-freeze is the easiest to identify because it is bright green or yellow and has a very distinct sweet odor. If this fluid is leaking from your car, there are a number of places that can be the source of a coolant/anti-freeze leak such as the radiator, water pump, freeze plugs, hoses, head gasket, and water core.
A water leak, particularly from the passenger side of your vehicle, is not something you need to worry about. Generally, your air conditioner was likely on when you parked your car and the condensed water from the air conditioning drained and left behind a small pool of water.
Power Steering Fluid
When power steering fluid is leaking from your car, it can sometimes be mistaken for transmission fluid. It appears to be reddish-brown but the difference is that the liquid is thinner in consistency and has a smell that is both sweet and burned at the same time. Finding a power steering leak is fairly rare, but it can happen. These leaks occur near the steering rack by the rack end seals and the pinion steering system.
How to Detect a Leak from Your Vehicle
Sometimes determining what fluid is leaking from your car is not so straightforward. Plus, you may know your car is leaking but be unclear as to where the leak is occurring. Finding the leak before it becomes a serious problem is important and we hope these tips will help.
- Put cardboard or newspaper under your car. This is an easy way to determine that your car has a leak and will help you identify which fluid is the culprit. It is best to leave the car stationary for several hours or overnight. This gives the leak time to occur.
- Search the components under your vehicle. If you are having trouble figuring out the source of your leak, you may need to jack the car up to look under it. Because of the airflow while your vehicle is in motion, the leak source will likely be forward of the spot with fluid remnants.
- Spray on foot-powder will help you locate the source. If you know the general area but need to figure out the source more specifically, spray-on foot powder can help. It may seem odd, but it can easily highlight the source of your leak (you should be able to spot the drip in the white powder) and it is easy to clean off when done.
- Be sure to park on a flat surface while looking for your leak. If your car is on a slight slope, tracking down your leak will be more difficult. Additionally, the levels of your fluids under the hood will be inaccurate, which may create further issues.
What fluid is leaking from your car? Now that we’ve pointed you in a few likely directions, you might need a mechanic to actually fix the problem. So, get in touch with us here at Sundance Automotive in Westminster. We can get your leak stopped and make sure your car is back to normal so that you can get back on the road.