By the Numbers

5 Leaks You Shouldn't Ignore

What’s that spot?

From motor oil to transmission fluid, your vehicle relies on a variety of fluids and oils to keep it running in peak condition. Although you may keep on top of routine car maintenance, oil and fluid leaks can happen in any vehicle.

While any leak has the potential to be serious, some leaks are more concerning than others. If you notice any of the leaks outlined below, don’t look the other way - take your vehicle to your trusted mechanic for an inspection.

Motor Oil

Motor oil performs many important functions in your car’s engine. Its main job is to lubricate the metal surfaces in your engine so they don’t rub and wear against each other. Motor oil creates a thin film between engine parts so they can move past each other with ease.

Motor oil also absorbs heat and friction so all the parts of the engine can work together without overheating. Oil also cleans your engine by picking up debris between parts.

If you see a dark brown puddle under your car, you might have an oil leak. Have it checked out by a mechanic right away. Driving with an oil leak over an extended period of time can cause your engine parts to wear prematurely and also be a fire hazard.

Antifreeze (coolant)

Antifreeze does exactly what its name implies - it prevents water in your engine’s cooling system from freezing. Coolant, which comes in different colors including green, pink and yellow, also helps prevent your engine from overheating by raising the boiling point of the coolant.

If you discover a green, pink or yellow spot under your car, it could be coolant leaking from the radiator, hose or water pump. Driving with a coolant leak leaves your vehicle low on antifreeze which puts your engine at risk of overheating in the summer and freezing in the frigid temperatures of winter.

Please note that you should never remove the radiator cap when your engine is hot. The coolant inside the radiator is under pressure and can cause burns.

Brake Fluid

A key part of your vehicle’s braking system, brake fluid helps transfer the movement and force created when you press down on the brake pedal.

Seen many times near a wheel, a brake fluid leak can range from clear to brown and is slippery to the touch. A brake fluid leak can lead to brake failure in your vehicle. If you suspect you have a brake fluid leak, have your car inspected immediately by your mechanic. Don’t put your safety and the safety of your passengers at risk by driving with a compromised brake system.

Transmission Fluid

Lubricating all the components of your car’s transmission system is the job of transmission fluid. This important fluid also acts as a coolant, helps protect metal surfaces from wear and aids in conditioning gaskets.

Red fluid leaking near the front or middle of the vehicle can indicate trouble with the transmission system. If left alone, a transmission fluid leak will eventually lead to transmission failure.

A transmission leak can be caused by many things like a leak in the pan, broken or loose seals or a leak in the fluid lines. Your mechanic will be able to determine the source of the leak during an inspection.

Power Steering Fluid

Helping you turn and steer your car with ease is the function of power steering fluid. Without this key fluid, your power steering system would feel more like a powerless steering system.

A power steering leak can appear as a reddish or light brown spot near the front of your vehicle. A leak combined with diminished power in your steering system is a good clue that you might have a power steering leak.

Continuing to drive with a power steering fluid leak can lead to decreased steering power which could leave you stranded in a dangerous situation. Many power steering fluid leaks can be traced to failing hoses, O-rings and seals. After an examination, your mechanic will be able to figure out where the leak originated.

Final Thought

When you see a leak, it is tempting to just top off the fluid that is leaking and keep on driving. While this is the easy thing to do, it isn’t the best solution. With the help of a mechanic, you need to find the source of the leak and get it fixed. This will ensure your car is in proper working order.

 

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The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician or mechanic. We encourage you to consult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein.