How to Identify What’s Leaking from Your Car

All car owners have come upon a mystery puddle underneath their car at one point, and wondered what it was. Most worry that it may mean something major just went kaput, and they could be right.  However, a car is just like the human body. It sometimes gets leaks, and you have to find out what it is before you panic. You can avert major disaster if you catch the problem while it isn’t yet serious and expensive to fix. Here are some common leaks you may encounter, and how to identify what they are.


coolantYou put this stuff in the radiator to keep the water at the right temperature. It usually comes in pale green, but some brands are orange or pink. It has a slippery, sticky feel to it and smells slightly sweet in a chemical sort of way.  It will leak because your radiator has a hole somewhere, so if you check your radiator regularly, you will know you have a problem before you ever see the leak. If you don’t check your radiator, then a coolant leak is a sign that you will find yourself stranded from an overheating engine in the near future. It doesn’t really matter precisely where the leak is, it will have something to do with your cooling system. Have your radiator checked and replace the coolant.

As a last tip, keep your pets away from a coolant leak because it’s highly toxic. Wash it off as soon as you see it.

petrol leakYou will probably smell this before you see it, because petrol has a very strong and distinctive smell. It also means that you probably have a leak in your petrol tank if you see a puddle near the rear of the car, unless you were sloppy about putting in petrol from the can the last time you ran out. If the leak is near the front, then the culprit may be your fuel pump or fuel lines. However, there is no need to panic. A leaky tank doesn’t mean your car will blow up, but it does mean you will be leaking money onto the road. It is also not a great idea to go around with a car leaking petrol, so have it seen to as soon as possible.


oil leakOne of the most common car leaks is engine oil. It may be due to an improperly attached oil filter or secured oil plug, a corroded oil coolant line, a worn gasket, or high oil pressure, among other things. A few drops is worrying, but mechanics say that cars with high mileage often seep oil on occasions. However, it is a very bad sign if you find a large puddle, because it probably means your engine is running low on oil. Before haring over to your mechanic, check the oil level to make sure your engine still has enough oil to work properly. If you add oil, and it immediately leaks, then don’t attempt to start your engine at all. Call for a home service, or have a tow truck bring it to the repair shop.

Brake Fluid

breakfluid leakBeware if you find a slightly thick yellowish puddle near the wheels or right under the brake pedal, because it may mean your brakes are losing fluid. DO NOT attempt to drive it to the repair shop, because a leaking brake line means low pressure, which means you could lose your brakes at any time. Have your car towed, or ask the mechanic to pay you a visit. The added cost is a small price to pay for avoiding wrapping your car around a pole, or worse.


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