Get leaks checked quickly
Leaks can quickly turn expensive if not repaired immediately. Gaskets are cheap and can usually be replaced for under $5. Some leaks may come from a loose part or filter that only needs to be tightened. Taking the time for proper repairs and maintenance will add years to the life of your vehicle and will help protect our streams for future generations.
For more information and a list of local mechanics, visit the Fix Car Leaks website.
Tips for finding the source of vehicle leaks
Vehicle leaks can be elusive as there are a number of fluids in your vehicle and they can come from a variety of areas. Matching the color, odor, consistency, and location of the leak will give you a very good indication of its source. Here are some tips from the experts to help you in your search:
- Get a piece of white cardboard or use a white paper towel over cardboard and place it under your vehicle where you see the fluid stains or suspect a leak (a 2' x 4' section works best).
- Let the cardboard sit for several hours or overnight.
- Check the fluid color, consistency, and location with the indicator chart.
- Search online with the make, model, and year of your car along with the leak information to narrow the possibilities and help determine the issue.
- Take your vehicle to a mechanic and provide the information you have. For example: "I think I have a transmission leak based on the color, location, and consistency of the fluid I found under my car."
Identifying vehicle fluids by color, consistency, and location
Brown to black with thick consistency =
Check to find exactly where the oil is coming from (could be engine, sump, filter, driveshafts or gearbox) and try to trace all leaks to their source (often oil will pool in one area but will originate from above). Clear away any dirt and grime to determine the actual leak. Most leaks come from failed plugs, seals, or gaskets.
Neon green, orange, blue, or red =
Usually neon blue-green in color and will be found leaking from the front of your vehicle (water pump, radiator, or thermostat housing). It often has a sweet smell.
Light clear brown or thick black =
Will often be found leaking from around the wheels.
Thick reddish or clear =
Power steering fluid
Will most likely be found leaking from the pipe connections on the steering rack.
Reddish pink =
Often has a burnt smell. Be aware that mechanics sometimes use transmission fluid interchangeably with power steering fluid.
Amber color with strong fuel smell =
Strong, distinctive odor will tell you if you are leaking fuel. This is very dangerous...you must take care of it right away!