Diagnostic: What’s Leaking From My Car, Truck, or SUV?

Diagnostic: What’s Leaking From My Car, Truck, or SUV?

Hey everybody… Jeremy here from O’Reilly Auto Parts to
teach you how to diagnose a vehicle leak. It can be a little unsettling to see a puddle
under your vehicle, so our hope is to take the worry out of it by helping you figure
out what it is. In many cases, we offer chemicals that can
be added to systems to stop them from leaking. If you’re not confident diagnosing the fluid
under your vehicle, or if you have an extreme leak, we’d be happy to recommend a professional
technician in your area. Every vehicle’s manufacturer specifies the
type of fluid you should add to each system, so consult your owner’s manual before topping
off any fluids. Here are a few of the leaks you might see: Coolant is also called antifreeze, and can
be green, orange, yellow, blue, greenish-blue, pink or red. You can verify the color of your coolant by
checking the reservoir under your hood. A leak can be under the front of your vehicle
as far back as the floorboard of your engine compartment. It’s important to repair this leak as soon
as you can. If your radiator loses too much coolant, your
engine can overheat or even seize up and leave you stranded. Also, the sweet smell of coolant is appealing
to pets, and is highly toxic. Many coolants have bittering agents added
to prevent ingestion, but it’s best to clean up a leak before any pets get curious. A fuel leak won’t look much different than
water, but as you might guess, it’ll smell like gas. Because a fuel leak can happen at the tank,
the fuel line or the fuel pump, it’s possible to see leaked gas anywhere under the length
of the vehicle. It’ll dry a lot faster than most liquids,
so if you see it on the ground, it’s probably very recent. Get a fuel leak taken care of as soon as possible
to prevent the danger of fire or combustion. If you see a liquid that’s light brown to
black and feels greasy and slick between your fingers, it’s probably engine oil. This is a leak you’d find under the front
end of your vehicle. Check the dipstick that measures your oil
level to see if you need to add back what’s leaked… the level should always read between
the minimum and maximum indicators on the dipstick. Take care of an oil leak as soon as possible
to keep moving parts lubricated and prevent oil pressure issues. In most cars, a brake fluid leak is not common,
but it is possible. You’d most likely see this leak near a wheel
or at the master cylinder. Brake fluid will usually be a clear or yellow
to brownish color and medium thickness. Because this fluid is what maintains the hydraulic
pressure in your brake system, it’s not safe to drive your vehicle if you suspect
a leak. Have it towed to a shop for repairs to avoid
the risk of brake failure. Automatic transmission fluid is an oily, reddish
fluid, somewhere from pink to dark brown in color. A leak would appear under the front half in
front-wheel drive vehicles, or toward the middle of rear-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicles. This fluid serves as a lubricant and coolant
in your transmission. If your transmission fluid gets low, the damage
can be costly… so take care of this leak as soon as possible. A power steering fluid leak can look reddish
to pink or yellowish to light brown. Since your vehicle’s steering system is
toward the front, that’s where you’d find the leak. If power steering fluid is leaking, hydraulic
pressure will decrease and you’ll find it more difficult to steer. You’ll want to stop this leak before steering
becomes difficult and dangerous. Windshield washer fluid is usually blue, but
can also be purple, green or orange. The reservoir and tubes are usually near the
windshield in the engine compartment… if you find a leak, it’s likely to be underneath
that area. This leak won’t affect the way your vehicle’s
running, but you’ll want to fix it before heading out on a road trip so you can keep
your windshield clean on the highway. Lastly, if you see a fresh puddle on a hot
day after you’ve been running your air conditioner, don’t worry. Condensation from your air conditioner is
likely to leave a puddle of water under the front passenger side of your vehicle. And that’s it. If you need any further advice or you’re
wondering about an additive to stop a leak, come by your local O’Reilly Auto Parts store
or visit OReillyAuto.com. Our DIY videos are designed to help answer
questions we get in our stores every day. If you found this one helpful, subscribe to
our channel to get all the latest. We’ll see you again soon.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Can you help with blinker fluid and a video on how to fix a muffler bearing? Autozone sold me the parts but im confused how it works

  2. Addititves Should be avoided. Leaks ahould be properly by Component Replacement by a Competent Auto Tech

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