• Ambre Guterl

What's leaking under your car?

Updated: Aug 23


What's Leaking from Under Your Car?

What's leaking under your car? This can be a loaded question for someone unfamiliar with cars and the fluids that make them function properly. There are seven different fluids in a car that could be leaking and forming that small or large puddle you see underneath your car. In this article, we will talk about the seven different fluids and what they look and smell like so you can better identify what may be the problem. Let's jump in!


Oil


Jars of Good and Bad Motor Oil

Oil is the most common fluid and the most clearly identified. The leak may be found near the engine area of the vehicle and could smell like cooking oil. The liquid could look one of two ways. The first, which is the most well known, is the multi-colored oil-slick fluid. It can resemble what neo chrome looks like but in liquid form. The second would be brown to almost black fluid. Small oil leaks can be a quick and easy fix but, they can also be very hazardous and should be checked out by your trusted mechanic as soon as possible to prevent any further damage to your vehicle. It is also a good idea to keep up with regular oil changes to keep your vehicle's engine clean and lubricated.


Coolant


Jars of Good and Bad Coolant

If you notice a leak in the front of the car near the front bumper, then it is most likely a coolant leak. Coolant can be a variety of different colors depending on the specific manufacturer, but typically is a neon yellow or green slimy fluid that usually has a sweet smell to it. If there is a predominant leak, you may notice that the car is running hot or overheating altogether. If the leak is small, you may notice a smell after driving. Either way, coolant leaks should be repaired as soon as possible because coolant leaks tend to get worse quickly and be catastrophic to your engine.


Transmission Fluid


Jar of Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid can look pink, red, or even brown. Manufacturers add red dyes to the fluid so it is easily identified, but as the fluid ages, it turns brown and can be mistaken for engine oil. Transmission fluid lubricates and cools the components of your transmission and smells like petroleum. When your transmission fluid has broken down this can lead to an increase in friction, giving off a strong burnt smell. Transmission cooler lines, located in the front of the car near the radiator, can become rotted and leak, causing lowered fluid levels. This type of leak should be fixed quickly to prevent further transmission damage.


Power Steering Fluid


Jars of Good and Bad Power Steering Fluid

Power steering fluid is clear or red, but like transmission fluid, it turns brown with age. Weirdly enough, it also tends to smell like burnt marshmallows. This fluid can be very easy to misidentify as transmission fluid. Since it can commonly be used for both transmission and power steering purposes. The power steering lines run all through the front end of your car, in various patterns depending on the type of vehicle you have. This can make diagnosing the problem very difficult for an untrained eye. You may notice squealing when turning the steering wheel, or it may become difficult to steer the vehicle altogether. If that's the case your may have a leak and could have little to no fluid left.


Brake Fluid