How often have you backed out of your garage and noticed a wet spot on the garage floor? Your car has a fluid leak.. but where is it coming from and is it dangerous to my vehicle or my health? Great questions! Fluid leaks are common, and while some are harmless, some leaks could lead to major issues.
So, let’s diagnosis these leaks.. by using your eyes and nose!
How To Diagnosis A Fluid Leak- With Your Eyes & Nose!
There are around 8 different fluids running through your car that could cause a leak. Some are completely harmless, while others are dangerous to your health and those around you. So read carefully! We will help you determine what is leaking and whether or not you need a mechanic ASAP.
If You See…..
Clear Water- This is actually just condensation from your AC condenser. It is more noticeable on hot days when you are blasting your AC to stay cool! No worries here, the water will evaporate and no harm is done to your vehicle.
Light Blue Fluid-This is your washer fluid leaking. Now, some washer fluids are clear and both will have little to no scent. The main thing you will notice is where the fluid is coming from. It should be coming out of the washer fluid reservoir once you fill it with more washer fluid. If this happens, check your connections for leaks and make sure your cap is tight. Washer fluid leaks are completely harmless and you can clean the spill with a paper towel or let it evaporate, however, you will want this fixed eventually.
Pink / Redish Fluid- This will be your power steering fluid leaking. It will smell like burnt oil so check your dipstick on the power steering reservoir. If your reservoir is low and you see this color under your car, tell your mechanic your power steering line is leaking. This is not harmless but you want to fix it ASAP.
Pink / Redish (Towards Rear)- Now, if you see more pink/red fluid under your car further back near the center, this could be a transmission leak. It will smell like either burnt oil, burnt rubber, or mildew. You’ll want to fix this ASAP and be careful cleaning the fluid up.
Bright Yellow, Green, Orange Fluid- Any bright color fluid will be antifreeze. Antifreeze has a low viscosity like water but will smell very sweet like syrup. Be VERY careful when cleaning this fluid! It is toxic…. Clean the fluid up ASAP using gloves and keep animals & children away from your car. The sweet smell may entice them. Call your mechanic immediately to get this fixed.
Clear / Amber Fluid- This will be your brake fluid leaking. It starts out clear then turns an amber color. You will find this dripping on the inside of your rims down your tires near the brakes. Brake fluid is extremely corrosive and will eat through paint. So be careful cleaning it up and make sure you fix it!
Amber / Dark Brown Fluid- The most common leak and something you want to fix ASAP is an oil leak. It will be very thick and greasy to the touch and smell of oil. Depending on how old the oil is, it will change from amber to dark brown in color. Check your dipstick to match the color and smell. If the color and smell match, drive to your nearest mechanic and tell them you have an oil leak.
Clear With Gas Smell- The most concerning leak is a gas / fuel leak. You will smell the leak before you see it. You should not smell gas unless you are at a gas station… so pay attention! Fuel is volatile and evaporates quickly which is why you will smell it before you see it. Look under your car for long thin lines running from the gas tank to the front of your car. Call your mechanic ASAP and don’t leave your car in the garage! Clean the spill with kitty litter or oil dry and use gloves. Obviously, do not light any type of fire near your vehicle since gas is very flammable!
Fluid leaks are no joke. As you just read, some are harmless, but others can be toxic and need professional attention. If that is the case, call your mechanic and explain the situation.
You’re an expert on leaks now 🙂 Keep your car clean and working properly to help enhance the life of your vehicle and keep you safe behind the wheel. Comment below with any questions!
For more information on strange car smells, click this link!