Finding that fluid which is leaking from your car can be alarming. It is possible fluid leaking from your car could be normal, but other times leaking fluids are a symptom of a bigger problem with your vehicle. Before you panic, there are two questions you need to ask: 1) “Where is the fluid coming from?” and 2) “What does the fluid look like?” When determining where the fluid is coming from, first find out for certain whether the fluid is even coming for your vehicle and not the vehicle parked in the space before you. If you are unsure, just get down and take a good look under the car with a flashlight or your cell phone.
Once you have determined that the leak is indeed coming from your vehicle, stick a piece of white paper or cardboard under the leak to catch some of the fluid and determine its color. Depending on the color, the fluid could be several different things:
Red or Pink: Red or pink fluid is usually either transmission fluid or power steering fluid. You do not want these to leak and you need to take your car to the shop to have a hole sealed.
Orange: Orange fluid can either mean that rust is in your radiator is making your antifreeze or condensation appear orange or your car is leaking old transmission fluid. Neither one is a great sign, and you shouldn’t ignore orange fluid.
Yellow: Yellow fluid is usually coolant. Using the incorrect type of coolant for your radiator can make leaks more likely.
Brown: Dark brown fluid can come from several areas in your vehicle. Brake fluid is usually dark brown and so is aging motor oil. Light brown fluid is usually motor oil. In either case, you should see a mechanic.
Clear: This is the only one that is usually nothing to worry about – clear fluid is usually just condensation from your air condition system and it is completely normal! This list covers most colors you will see leaking from your vehicle, but here is a big idea: If the fluid isn’t clear, you aren’t in the clear. Head to the shop right away!