Car Fluid Leaks, Colors & What They Mean

December 26th, 2018 by

Blue windshield wiper fluid

Most of us are guilty of ignoring minor problems when it comes to our cars. Whether it’s a blinking light on the dash or a mysterious rattling sound, at one time or another we’ve tried to pretend a problem isn’t there. We all know it’s also a really bad idea. The team at Thompson Sales knows how important safety is when it comes to cars, trucks, and SUVs, so we’re here to help. Have you ever seen fluid leaking from your car and wondered whether it’s nothing, a bad sign, or a really bad sign? Well, it all depends on the color. Here’s what those colors mean.

Pale Amber (Brake Fluid)

We’ll start with some of the most vital examples of fluid leaks. Firstly, if you see a clear or slightly amber-tinted fluid leaking from your car, it’s probably brake fluid. You can also identify brake fluid by a slightly fishy smell. If your car is leaking brake fluid, it’s very important that you don’t drive it. Brake fluid is essential to safety, and if your car is leaking it then you need to have your car repaired ASAP.

Antifreeze (Green, Orange, or Pink)

Speaking of safety, you also need to fix an antifreeze leak fast. If you see bright green, orange, or pink fluid leaking from your car then it’s likely antifreeze. A leak means that there’s damage, and antifreeze is toxic. It’s especially dangerous for children or pets, so make sure you fix the leak or get it fixed by a professional.

Transmission Fluid (Pink, Red, or Dark Red)

Transmission fluid comes in a pretty wide variety of colors, so this is very general advice. The best way to tell is where the leak is. If you learn where the transmission is on your car, you can keep an eye out for any leaks pooling under it. Most cars need transmission fluid that was designed specifically for them, so make sure you replace it with the right kind.

Gear Oil (Thick Fluid)

Gear oil is a thicker fluid found in manual transmission cars that has a distinctive smell. Gear oil in manual cars tends to leak slowly, so keep an eye out for early signs like the smell or dirt accumulating in specific patches under the vehicle.

Power Steering Fluid (Similar to Transmission Fluid)

Most modern cars come with power steering. A fluid leak from power steering can be easy to miss, especially since it’s similar to transmission fluid. Knowing where to look is the key to identifying a power steering fluid leak. Although, if you’ve noticed steering your vehicle has gotten harder recently, a fluid leak could be the cause.

Oil (Black)

An oil leak is one of the easiest to identify. Oil that’s been run through your engine is a black, thick substance. When it leaks, it tends to form black pools underneath your car or truck. Oil leaks can be hard to pinpoint sometimes but are generally easier to fix.

Wiper Fluid (Blue or Pink)

If you see blue or pink fluid at the front or rear of your car, it’s likely wiper fluid. While it’s not necessarily essential to how your car runs, it’s still important to have wiper fluid and working wipers. A leak means the reservoir is probably broken. Make sure you get it fixed.

Water (Clear)

Water is the easiest fluid leak to identify since we all know what water looks like. Clear, odorless water leaking from or pooling under your car is usually harmless. Your car is probably creating condensation, especially in warmer weather. You only need to worry if the water leaking from your car seems really excessive.

Find the Perfect New or Used Car at Thompson Sales

These are just general guidelines and it’s important to remember that fluids in different vehicles will vary. If you’re looking for somewhere to take your car for a tune-up, inspection, or for repairs, visit Thompson Sales. If you’re in the market for a new or certified pre-owned car, we can help you with that, too! We’ve been offering the best in new and used vehicles to people in and around Springfield, Missouri, for decades. Contact us or visit our car lot in Springfield, MO today.

Posted in Car Repair