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5 Common Car Fluid Leaks

Identifying fluid leaks is an important skill for vehicle owners. You can take care of some leaks without professional assistance, while others indicate serious or potentially serious problems and require the services of a mechanic. In order to keep your car in good condition, it’s important to check for possible leaks routinely by inspecting the floor of your garage and the surface of your parking spots. Check out these six common fluid leaks and what each means for your vehicle.

car fluid leak

1. Black Fluid

Black or dark brown fluid with a slight burnt smell leaking from the front end of your vehicle is usually the sign of an engine oil leak. If you notice engine oil leaking from your car, check under the front end to make sure the oil pan is in the proper position and the oil filter is snug. If the oil pan and filter are properly positioned but you are still noticing a leak, you may have a cracked oil pan or faulty valves. It’s important to have an engine oil leak fixed as soon as possible as leaking oil can damage your engine and other car parts, causing more costly repairs.

2. Red, Dark Red, and Brown Fluid

Automatic transmission fluid is red, but with time it turns dark red and even dark brown. Faulty seals and gaskets, worn or broken hoses and lines, and cracks in the transmission system may all be responsible for this leak. If you notice a dark red or brown fluid leak, it’s important to have your car inspected by a professional as soon as possible. Often, the problem is minor and easy to repair if caught early. However, once major damage occurs, you may need a new automatic transmission system.

3. Transparent Yellow or Brown Fluid

Brake fluid is a clear yellow when new, but it turns brown over time. It is easy to distinguish from other fluids because it has a slippery consistency. The leak could be due to faulty hoses, brake calipers, or cylinders. If you identify a brake fluid leak or suspect one, have the vehicle inspected immediately as a brake fluid leak can cause your car brakes to malfunction.

4. Orange, Pink, or Blue-Green Fluid

Coolant is usually a bright color such as orange, pink, or blue-green, so it can be easily differentiated from other fluids you may find beneath your vehicle. The consistency is watery and it may give off a sweet smell after driving. Coolant leak causes range from minor issues such as a loose clamp to major issues such as a broken water pump or a leak in the heater. This type of leak needs immediate attention as it can worsen quickly and damage your engine.

5. Clear, Red, or Brown fluid

Power steering fluid is clear or red when new and turns brown as it ages. A power steering fluid leak is noticed near the front, left side of your car and can be caused be a cracked hose or cracks in the radiator. Take your car into a shop as soon as you notice this leak as driving your vehicle with low or no power steering fluid can damage the pump and wreak extensive damage. If you notice any of these fluid leaks under your car, contact our expert mechanics at one of our six locations in Missouri today. We’ll make any needed repairs and have your car back in good condition in no time!

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About the Author
Eric Riddles

Eric Riddles is an ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician who has been working as an auto mechanic since 1998 and originally joined the team at Custom Complete Automotive in 2005. Eric has numerous certifications in various aspects of car repair and spent 10 years training the next generation of auto technicians at a local high school Auto Shop classroom.

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