Yikes! There's Something Dripping From My Car! - Vol.218
Just notice leaking fluids pooled up underneath your car? Before you start panic, know that not every leak signifies a problem with your car. Some fluids leaks occur naturally, so before rushing your car to the first mechanic shop you can find, save yourself some money and try to identify the fluids first.
Check underneath the car with a flashlight and look for where the leak is coming from on the car. Take a towel or something disposable and catch some of the liquid on the towel, or dab up some of the liquid that is already on the ground. Look at the color and consistency of the leaked substance and use that information to help you determine what the contents might be from this list of common fluid leaks.
Air Conditioner Fluid
If the substance is clear or looks like water, it is most likely condensation that is dripping from your air conditioner. This is the least of your worries as your air conditioner is designed to remove the moisture from the air, and then deposit that moisture outside of your vehicle tunneled through a small tube underneath your car. Expect to see this quite often if you live in a humid region of the world or decide to use your air conditioner right after a rainstorm.
Dark brown or golden fluid may be a result of oil that has leaked from the car engine. Open your hood and remove the oil dipstick. Check the on the metal rod to determine if your oil levels have dropped down to low levels that could damage your engine; if they have, add some additional oil before driving the vehicle to a shop for repair.
Look around the engine itself and see if you can spot out where the leak might be coming from. Feel around to see if the leak is coming from a nut or bolt within the engine that came loose; if so, use a wrench to tighten it and wait to see if that resolves the problem. Otherwise, plan on taking the vehicle into a mechanic so that they can remedy the situation. In the end, it might have something to do with a seal that has snapped or come loose.
Coolant or Anti-Freeze
Coolant is the substance that runs through the engine and prevents it from overheating while you drive. There are a wide variety of colors used to produce coolant, but the most common colors you can expect are green or blue. Find the radiator towards the front of your car directly behind the grill, and check the exterior to see if it is covered in or dripping the liquid that is pooled beneath your car. You should also check the coolant container to see if the liquid level has fallen below the recommended minimum has as a general indicator.
The line that coolant runs through goes all the way through and around the engine so it can be difficult to spot leaks if this is the culprit. Again, have your car taken into a professional to diagnose the problem if the color of the liquid is green or blue in particular.
One of the most serious fluid leaks that your car won't be able to survive without are transmission fluids. Transmission fluids are colored red or pink and leaks would most commonly be found near the base of the wheel. The best way to determine if the leak has to do with the transmission fluid is by the way the car drives. Don't drive the car if you don't absolutely have to, but if you are driving and you feel the car slip out of gear, it's most likely a lack of transmission fluid.