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Fluid Leaks & How to Identify Them

Most people only worry about their car if they notice a strange smell or hear a weird sound. However, leaks are usually the first visual indicators that signal that something may be wrong with your vehicle. Leaks are a phenomenon that most drivers will encounter at some point during the life of their car. Leaks should be taken seriously. Identifying and understanding leaks is an essential skill to have to prevent hazardous driving situations and costly repairs. Below is a small reference guide to help identify leaks beneath your vehicle. 

Water
The clear, odorless consistency of water is not hard to spot. Water leaks are typically found under a vehicle near the front passenger seat. Most water leaks occur from the air conditioning unit and usually aren’t a cause for much concern. 

Engine Oil
Engine oil leaks have a distinctive smell and are either light brown or dark black. The lighter the oil, the cleaner it is. If the leaked oil is light brown, you may have recently gotten an oil change. Black oil can signify that it hasn't been changed for a while. If your vehicle is in the high mileage club, a few oil drops every so often is normal. However, regular puddles of oil should always be inspected by a technician.

Coolant
Coolant's sweet-smelling green or yellow liquid is one of the easiest leaks to identify. However, coolant can leak from various areas in a vehicle, from the water pump and radiator to the heater core or head gasket. Coolant leaks shouldn't be ignored; their origin can usually be quickly identified and diagnosed.

Power Steering Fluid 
Power steering fluid has a thin consistency and a reddish-brown color. It has a burnt smell with a sweet undertone. Power steering fluid leaks are rare, but when they do occur, they are usually near the steering rack. If there is a leak, the steering wheel will become heavy and difficult to turn. If a leak is suspected to be power steering fluid, the vehicle should be inspected by a professional. 

Brake Fluid
Brake fluid resembles cooking oil, but in some cases, it can have a pale amber color. Brake fluid leaks commonly occur in the brake caliper seals or master cylinders. If you notice a brake fluid leak, do not drive the vehicle. Driving with a brake fluid leak is dangerous and can impact your ability to stop the car. This leak needs immediate attention. 

Transmission Fluid
Transmission fluid can be a range of colors from brown, red, or pink, depending on a vehicle's condition. Transmission oil is often mistaken for engine oil due to similarities in color and consistency. Transmission fluid leaks are more common in automotive vehicles than manual. The axle seal and output shaft are common areas prone to transmission fluid leaks. 

Fluid Leaks Diagnostics in Durham, NC
If you're noticing leaks underneath your vehicle, East Coast Diesel is a veteran-owned automotive repair shop with expert ASE certified technicians available to help. We'll find the cause of the vehicle leaks and put a stop to it. Additionally, if you need any other truck or automotive repair, you can count on East Coast Diesel. We service all vehicle makes and models and would be happy to help. Give us a call or click here to schedule an appointment.