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The 8 Most Common Leaks That Come From Your Car

June 10, 2021

It happens at the most unexpected times. There you are, running your errands without a care in the world, when you suddenly notice some type of liquid emanating from beneath your vehicle. The mysterious puddle of fluid that stains the ground sends a bolt of panic through your heart. What’s leaking from your car – and where? HSO has your back. Keep reading to learn about the 8 most common types of leaks, how you can identify that mystifying liquid, and what you should do about it:

Water

So here’s the good news. If you see water leaking from your car, you don’t have to sweat it! Water is a very common, harmless leak that especially occurs during the hot, humid summer months. That’s because your air conditioning is working hard to pull out the humidity in the cabin, which results in condensation exiting your vehicle through a rubber hose. Here’s a pro tip: when you use the air conditioning in your car, hit the recirculation button (instead of opting for fresh air). This will help your cabin reach optimum temperatures, which should help decrease the amount of leakage you experience.

Motor Oil

Otherwise known as engine oil, motor oil leaks can be light brown or light amber to dark brown or black in appearance, depending on how well you maintain your car. This leak may occur in older cars that have been driven many miles. If you notice this type of leak near the front of your vehicle, it may be coming from your engine or possibly a crankshaft seal or valve cover gasket. Try to pinpoint its location or ask your mechanic to find the leak. If you see motor oil leaking while your vehicle is parked, it’s best not to drive it until the issue is addressed.

Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid may at first appear to be engine oil, but it’s thicker, reddish in color, and found near the middle of the car instead of the front. If this is the case, you’ll want to take your car to the mechanic, stat. If the leak continues, your car won’t be able to move whatsoever. Check your fluid levels, replenish them if they’re low and you’re able, and drive your car as little as possible until the leak is fixed.

Coolant

Even though it comes in a variety of colors, coolant is one of the easiest fluids to identify. Also known as antifreeze, coolant is generally a brightly-colored liquid that is thinner than oil. It can usually be found near the front of the vehicle, particularly from the radiator, although it may also leak from your exhaust pipe. It’s also sweet in smell, which makes it easy to identify; however, it’s highly toxic if ingested. If you think you may have a coolant leak, keep pets and children far away. A vehicle that has lost quite a lot of coolant can overheat and ruin the engine; if you think your car has a coolant leak, get your vehicle inspected right away.

Differential Fluid

This very thick liquid, which lubricates the moving parts of your vehicle’s hardworking axles, goes by many names: differential fluid, gear oil, gear fluid, and hypoid. It looks like viscous honey and has a distinct, mechanic shop-like smell that won’t disappear from your hands for days should you touch it. This type of leak tends to drip continuously and is hard to ignore. In most cases, you may notice it coming from the rear axle, but it can also appear from the front axle. All in all, differential leaks may point that there may be a problem with your gasket, pinion seal, or differential side seal, so it’s best to have the problem addressed by a professional.

Power Steering Fluid

Reddish or light brown in color, power steering fluid smells a bit like burnt cooking oil, and these leaks tend to happen at each end of the steering rack near the front of the car. You may suspect you have a power steering fluid leak when you’re making a turn at a lower speed – the steering wheel may feel tight and you might hear the steering pump whine a bit as you turn. You’ll want to get this fixed very soon. This type of leak may result in the sudden loss of your power steering, which can put you in danger on the road.

Gasoline

Fuel leaks may develop in the fuel tank, fuel lines, or fuel injectors, which can be wind up becoming a problematic mess. While gas leaks are easy to identify, they can be costly. Not only are you losing money at the pump, but you may also have some hefty expenses on your hands, especially if you wait to repair the leaks.

Brake Fluid

This isn’t necessarily a common leak, but it’s important enough for us to include. A clear to amber color that smells a bit like fish oil and is extremely slippery, brake fluid leaks can be found anywhere underneath your vehicle. Even though it’s uncommon, it’s one of the most dangerous leaks that can happen to your car. If you find that your car has a brake fluid leak, don’t even think about driving it. Get it towed right away to your mechanic; otherwise, you may suddenly lose your ability to brake while driving.

Here’s a quick recap: if you notice any leak under your car, note the liquid’s color, consistency, and the general location of where it’s coming from. Some leaks aren’t much of a big deal, but others can be disastrous and should be fixed right away. Should you need more fluids after your leaks are fixed, count on HSO. We’re proud to carry all types of lubricants, including hydraulic fluid, coolants, and much more. Call us today for more information at 1-800-467-5044!