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Car Fluid Leaks: How to Tell Which Fluid is Leaking Based on Color

When you are walking out to your car and notice a puddle of something on the ground near your vehicle, you may panic. This leaking fluid can be dangerous and potentially damage your vehicle. You may be able to tell which fluid your car is leaking by color and location–check out this guide to tell which fluid is leaking from your vehicle!

Why Is This Important?

Car fluid leaks can be a sign of car trouble. But how do you know which fluid is leaking? The color of the liquid and where it’s coming from can give you a clue. Once you have determined the fluid that’s leaking, you can have your trusted mechanic repair the issue.

Understanding Fluids and Their Colors

No one wants to experience car trouble like leaking engine coolant. Sometimes, you can tell what kind of fluid leaks based on the color. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Clear fluids usually indicate water or windshield wiper fluid.
  • Green or yellow fluids are often coolants. Some GM vehicles will have orange coolant.
  • Black fluids are usually oil.
  • Brown or reddish brown fluids can be either transmission or brake fluid.
  • Red fluids are typically power steering fluids.

What Issues Do Fluid Leaks Cause

There are many fluids in a car that keep it running smoothly. None of these fluids should leak from your vehicle; if they do, there’s something wrong with your car. For example, suppose you leak oil or transmission fluid. In that case, you can seriously damage your car’s engine or transmission by driving with low oil or transmission fluid. On the other hand, if you are leaking windshield wiper fluid, for example, you won’t be able to clean your windshield when needed. Still, you likely won’t cause severe engine damage. 

What to Do About Fluid Leaks

You should check your car’s fluids regularly to ensure they are at the correct levels and to catch any leaks early. If you spot a leak, see your mechanic as soon as possible to fix the issue. Take extra precautions to avoid driving if your car’s engine oil or transmission fluid is very low. It will also be dangerous to drive with low brake fluid because you may not be able to brake your car as effectively as usual.

Cars are complex machines and contain several different fluids that perform various tasks. If you notice any leaks, see your mechanic as soon as possible to get your car back on the road leak-free.

Photo by Scharfsinn86 from Getty Images via Canva Pro
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