So, What is Leaking from Your Car?
Engine Oil Leak
Engine oil is the most common vehicle leak. An engine oil leak will happen toward the front of your car, where the engine is located. The leak will be a shade of brown, ranging from dark brown to amber, depending on how often you change your oil.
If you do have an engine oil leak, your car will still be drive-able for short distances. The important thing is to check your oil frequently to make sure you have enough. If it leaks so much that you run low, your engine can overheat, causing a head gasket to blow, crack an engine head or even cause the engine to seize up. This would be a costly repair or possibly the end of your engine.
You will want to get an engine oil leak fixed before going back to regular driving habits and keep checking the soil frequently until you get it repaired.
Another common leak is an antifreeze or coolant leak. The antifreeze will most likely be located in the front of your vehicle, near the engine. It can also leak from the tailpipe. Antifreeze can be many different colors; bright green, pink, red, orange, or turquoise. It will have a sweet smell.
An antifreeze leak is another leak that you can still drive with for very short distances, but you will need to keep a close eye on your vehicle and pull over immediately if it starts to overheat. Again, if you let your car overheat before dealing with this leak, you are looking at some severe damage and expensive repairs. You should not drive for more than a couple of days with an antifreeze or coolant leak, and you should be topping the coolant off with water until you get it fixed.
Transmission Fluid Leak
This leak will be near the middle or front of your car, and it will most likely be red, with an oily consistency, differentiating it from antifreeze, which can also be red. Transmission fluid may smell burnt if it is leaking.
If your car is leaking transmission fluid, you should get it to a mechanic as quickly as possible. It will not be dangerous to drive, but it will be more expensive to fix if you leave the leak to get worse. And your vehicle will not function correctly without enough transmission fluid.
Brake Fluid Leak
This is a severe leak since driving without brakes is unsafe. Brake fluid will most likely be leaking near or on the wheels. But it can also spread from the brake lines and be closer to the engine block. Brake fluid can be yellow or clear but will get darker with age, becoming browner in color. It will have a rancid smell. It has an oily consistency.
This leak needs to be repaired as quickly as possible, and do not drive with a brake fluid leak because you are risking your safety and the safety of other drivers on the road.
Power Steering Fluid Leak
This is an often overlooked leak because it is simple and works well most of the time. This leak will be at the front of your car, near the power steering rack or the hoses attached. It will most likely be red, and it might have a sweet, burnt smell to it. You can drive with this leak, but it won’t be easy to steer your car, and many times, it may be a simple repair.
One common leak that you don’t need to worry about at all is water. Your car’s air conditioning system will create condensation that will then drip under your vehicle. This is completely normal and safe. If you see a leak and it looks and feels like water, you can drive without concern.
A leak could be many things, and it is essential to identify it so you can drive safely. If you have any concerns or questions, don’t hesitate to take your car to your trusted mechanic. Northwest Auto Center of Houston is here to help; give us a call at 280-894-8880.