Your car is leaking something. As far as you know, you can’t tell heads from tails what it might be. Even if it’s a clear liquid, how can you be sure it’s not something coming from a pipe or a component that shouldn’t be leaking? The answer is simple. You have to get it checked out. The good news is that if it’s no big deal, great! And the even better news is that if it does turn out to be something that needs fixed, you will be in the right place at the right time. So what are you waiting for? In the meantime though, here are some tips to help you figure out what could be wrong.
Ok, we know you don’t need to be told this but we can’t exactly leave out the most common type of vehicle fluid leak, so here goes: oil. Yep, that’s right. Oil leaks are the single most common type of leak that occurs in most cars, trucks and SUVs. Although you’d think that all oil leaks are created equal – not exactly. If it appears dirty, that’s one thing and also if it smells weird, it could mean other issues.
Another really obvious liquid is windshield-washing fluid. We all know what it looks, smells and feels like. Not to mention that it’d be pretty simple to tell if your windshield wipers aren’t spewing out that much-needed lifesaver when you need it.
You know the green and pink streaky pools of fluid we’ve seen ever since we were kids? Usually the culprit was an old, beat up car that recently left its parking space, leaving behind the sight for all to see? Those leaks are the second most common occurrence of liquids that should be staying put in your car. Most often these leaks are of coolant or antifreeze. The most obvious fact is that without coolant or antifreeze, your engine can and will overheat, causing a TON of headaches, not the least of which is a huge repair bill. Another, less known, fact is that if passing by animals happen to take a taste of that stuff, it can be deadly for them. Case in point: get the problem resolved ASAP.
Holy Smokes! Safety’s On The Line
There are a couple leaks that you should definitely be aware of and if you spot them, or even suspect that they are “danger zone” leaks, get that car in to the shop yesterday. Brake fluid and steering fluid are two areas that can end up in a serious accident if they render useless the vehicle components they support. Interestingly, they look and smell quite the same. They each have a light to medium thickness, about halfway in between the consistency of typical coolant and water. Both smell mechanical and are nothing like the sweet smell you’d expect from other vehicle fluids besides oil plus their mildly yellow color is also same.
The last type of fluid leak that you might expect to see leftovers from on your pavement is the bright red transmission fluid that comes from automatic transmission lines. Blood red, and even deeper in color, this is a very alarming stain to see but it’s fairly rare. Nonetheless, if you do see red, and if it happens to be thick like blood with a weird smell too, you can pretty much count on it being transmission fluid and you can bet you’ll need to take it in for a peek.
The last thing you want is to suffer even greater damage because you didn’t manage a problem that occurred with your vehicle in time. By learning the basic telltale signs of what to look for there is a good chance you can save yourself a lot of frustration, time and money. Not to mention, knowing in advance what the weird liquid is that may be leaking from your car is a great way to prevent issues from becoming major ones.