Many otherwise good days are ruined when car owners enter their garage to find that their car appears to have sprung a leak overnight. The fluids in the average car perform many functions including helping drivers shift gears safely, slow the vehicle's speed quickly, and keep the engine at a safe operating temperature.
When critical fluids leak onto the floor, it is an important sign that a car repair may be needed to ensure the vehicle continues to operate dependably. If you have just had your morning thrown off track because of the appearance of a puddle of unknown fluid on the garage floor, this information can help you determine the cause and the action you should consider taking.
Rule out the possibility of harmless puddles
After the initial panic of seeing a pool of fluid under your car, it is important to rule out the possibility that it may be related to a harmless cause. Some causes for the formation of a harmless pool of liquid under your vehicle include:
- condensation from the air conditioning system on a hot day
- melting ice or snow that drips from the undercarriage of the car after driving on snowy roads
- passenger-related spills as they enter or exit the vehicle
While relatively harmless, vehicle owners may also see drips of fluids if the vehicle's reservoirs were overfilled with coolant, brake or power steering fluid, or anti-freeze. Pooled liquids that are determined to be from these sources should always be cleaned up promptly to lessen the risk of slipping and falling or having a child or pet ingest them.
Use fluid color to help determine the cause
If the fluid does not appear to be caused by one of the harmless reasons listed above, the vehicle owners will want to determine the likely source before moving or driving the vehicle. This is important because fluid leaks can result in fluid levels that cause the vehicle to be unsafe to drive or create the possibility of causing serious harm to the engine and other components if operated in that condition.
To help determine the possible cause of a fluid leak, drivers can use this basic guide:
- dark red or brown - possible transmission fluid
- tan, brown, or black - possible motor oil
- clear - possible brake or power steering fluid
- red, orange, pink, blue, or green - possible coolant or window washer fluid
Small, dark leaks with a thicker consistency may be related to a leaking seal on the transmission, differential, or another component of the vehicle.
When discovering any leak from their vehicle, drivers should always contact a reputable car repair service to get more information and ensure that their car is safe to drive.