Leaving a puddle behind is never good, whether you’re working out at the gym or pulling out of your driveway. While a towel and some cleaning spray can help you with the former, the latter can be a bit more complicated. Learn how to identify car fluid leaks with these tips.
Common Car Fluid Leaks
Most of the time, your car fluid leak will fall under one of these categories:
You’ve probably seen the evidence of oil leaks before in a parking lot, but it’s a lot more unsettling when you see evidence of an oil leak in your own garage or driveway. Oil leaks are fairly easy to identify, though the appearance of leaked oil can range from a light amber color to a dark brown or black color. This is because motor oil can collect dirt and debris over time, making the oil thick and sooty. If it’s been a long time since you had an oil change, or your engine is malfunctioning such that the combustion reaction is incomplete, the soot can build up and cause damage to your engine.
Power Steering Fluid
A red, brown, or clear fluid leak could be your power steering fluid. Keep in mind that the older the steering fluid, the darker brown it will turn. If the leak is occurring near the driver area of the car, it might be power steering fluid.
If, however, you notice that the leak is coming from another area, it may be transmission fluid. The whole situation is complicated by the fact that some cars use the same fluid for both power steering and transmission! Check in your owner’s manual and look online to determine if your car uses the same fluid for both, which will help you narrow down the possibilities.
New transmission fluid is colored red by the manufacturer, but over time, it can darken to a more brownish hue. One way to identify it is by smelling the fluid. If it smells tart or sweet, it’s transmission fluid. It could also be transmission fluid if it smells burnt, which would indicate that your transmission is running too hot and may be sustaining damage every time you run your car.
You’ll never guess what color brake fluid can be. Unless you guessed brown, and then—ding ding ding— you’re correct! When new, brake fluid is a clearer, lighter yellowish color, but over time it can turn brown. The easiest way to check for a leak is to look at the measurement on the brake fluid reservoir. However, you can also identify it by feel. Brake fluid is a hydraulic medium that feels extremely slippery to the touch.
If you’ve identified any of these car fluid leaks, it’s important to repair them right away. Doing so will help your car run better for longer, and keep you safer on the road. Shop our used auto parts for everything you need to keep your ride running strong!