What’s Leaking Under My Car? Understanding the Color Code

by | Jan 27, 2021 | Car Care Tips, Maintenance, NARPRO, Repair

No matter how new or reliable your car is, odds are that one day you will see fluid under it. When your car springs a leak, you usually assume the worst. Will it drive? How much will it cost? Some automotive leaks are serious and could leave you stranded while others are normal and naturally happen to every car. Either way, you’ll often be asking … what’s leaking?

Find out what’s leaking by following the color code

We are going to color code the different fluids that could leak from your car, and help you understand what to do about it.

  • Clear:  Every car will leak water when you have been running the air conditioner, which leads to water condensation. This is very common and is the least concerning liquid that might leak from your car.
  • Bright Blue:  Windshield wiper fluid is brightly colored and is the consistency of water. Loss of fluid does not affect the operation of your car, but make sure that pets and small children are kept away from the fluid. If you think that someone may have consumed any fluid before you realized you had a leak, call Poison Control immediately.
  • Brown or Black:  If there is a puddle of brown or black fluid under your car, it is probably oil. It will smell and feel slick when you touch it. The biggest concern is driving your car with little to no oil. It will overheat and cause damage. So, first check your oil level and refill if needed. Next, make plans to get your car to a mechanic as soon as possible.
  • Red:  Transmission fluid is also slick to touch, but it is red and odorless. The leak will be in the middle or front of the car. You need to take your car to a mechanic as soon as possible. It may be as simple as needing the transmission fluid changed, or it could be caused by a more serious engine problem.
  • Reddish Brown: Power steering fluid is also reddish and has a slightly sweet, burnt smell. The leak will be under the front half of your car. If you think your car is leaking power steering fluid, take it to your mechanic as soon as possible. Losing too much power steering fluid could result in the sudden loss of your power steering.
  • Light Brown:  Brake fluid is either light or dark brown, depending on how old it is, and it’s slippery to the touch. You will find it under the wheels or near the brakes. Don’t try to drive your car if what’s leaking is brake fluid, because you run the risk of not being able to stop. Fortunately, brake fluid leaks are rare.
  • Rainbow:  Gasoline leaks may be the easiest to identify but are also the most problematic. Fuel leaks are often caused by a major problem that should be addressed by your mechanic.

Don’t ignore what’s leaking – get help from the car care experts!

It is important for any car owner to know how to identify what’s leaking under the car. Always be aware of any puddles around your normal parking space. If you have any questions about a fluid leak, be sure to give one of our trusted NARPRO recommended shops a call!

The Neighborhood of Automotive Repair Professionals is made up of independent, locally-owned auto repair shops. They will be happy to answer any questions or look your car over for any safety issues. Schedule an appointment at one of our local auto repair shops today!

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