Car Fluid Leaks

Car fluid leaks can be alarming for most car owners, especially if you aren’t sure what type of leak you are dealing with. When you approach your car to head to work, or you go out to the parking lot to head home after a tough day at the office, the last thing you want to see is fluid dripping out from some unknown place under the hood. The following information is good to have on hand so you can identify whether you have a huge problem that needs immediate attention and a tow truck, or you have a minor issue that you can limp home and take to a mechanic when it’s more convenient.

The first issue is one we hear about a lot. It’s 100 degrees outside, and you are out running errands. You come outside and see a steady, but small stream of clear water coming from underneath your car’s engine. In most cases, this is simple condensation from your air conditioning unit. If the stream of water is very large or has a green tint to it, this is most likely a coolant leak and you need to call us right away.

Speaking of a coolant leak, how do you know if this is what is going on with your vehicle? Coolant or antifreeze is a green color and has a very sweet smell. If you see this type of leak in the summer, you should check your radiator once the engine has cooled down. Make sure both the radiator and the overflow tank are at the proper levels. When it’s warm outside, you can top off the coolant levels with water to get your car to us. If this happens when the temperature outside is cold, you’ve got to top off with antifreeze or you could have a serious problem. If the leak is small, you can drive your car to us without a problem. If the leak is very large, a tow is your best bet. You don’t want your car to overheat and cause a bigger problem, such as a cracked head or cracked engine block. These issues can cost thousands of dollars. And remember, your car can overheat even when it’s very cold, so it’s best not to take any chances.

Next up are a couple of easily identifiable car fluid leaks. How about oil? This fluid leak is fairly easy for most drivers to identify. Oil has a distinct color. New oil is gold, while used oil is typically dark brown or black. It will leak from under your engine compartment. Another fluid that is easy to identify is fuel. Fuel is clear and can have shiny streaks through the puddle, and we all know what fuel smells like. It can leak from anywhere under your engine, but most fuel leaks come from the gas tank area or the center of your vehicle where the fuel pump is located. These two leaks require a tow truck and immediate attention.

If you see fluid leaking around the wheel area, this is typically brake fluid. While brake fluid can leak under the engine compartment, where the master cylinder is located, the biggest area for these leaks is at the wheels. Brake fluid doesn’t have a distinct color or smell, but it can be brown or black if the fluid is dirty or has collected road dust. This is another time when you should call for a tow truck; a brake failure can obviously be devastating.

Automatic transmission fluid is another one of the big car fluid leaks we see. Transmission fluid is typically red or pink. When it leaks, it has a distinct smell that is sweet, but not sickening sweet like radiator fluid. Many times, leaking transmission fluid may have a burnt smell. If you think you have a transmission leak, do not drive your vehicle as this can result in catastrophic damage. Call a tow truck, or give us a call for specific advice.

Another leak that you might see is power steering fluid. Depending upon your car, the power steering system may use clear hydraulic fluid. You’ll typically notice a power steering leak on the ground beneath the steering wheel. While your car can be driven a short distance with this type of leak, it’s definitely not advisable to do so as this can burn up the power steering pump. It’s best to get a tow truck to come help you out.

If your car is leaking fluid, or you have another type of issue that needs checked out, come see us here at AutoCraft today. We have been in business for 38 years and are proud to service the entire metro area. Our mechanics have decades of experience in all areas of auto repair, and are trained to the highest standards. You can be sure that you will always be treated fairly when you bring your car to our shop. Your repairs will be done right the first time, and you will pay a fair price. Come see us today, or give us a call to learn more!


Autocraft, 6326 Main Ave, #26 Orangevale, CA 95662 Phone: (916) 988-0279