How to determine what’s leaking based on the fluid color

Published on

December 7, 2020

Finding a leak under your vehicle can be alarming and needs your immediate attention. So how do you know which leaks are serious and which to ignore? Most importantly, how soon do you need to get it fixed?

Before taking your vehicle to the mechanic, check out this guide to help you identify what fluid is leaking from your car, and when to schedule your next service.

Checking For Leaks Guide, by Quality Tune-Up Shops


  1. Brake Fluid: If the color is clear to light brown and the texture is oily like mineral oil, you need to immediately go to a mechanic. This indicates a serious alert level!
  2. Engine oil: If the leak is light brown to black with a thin syrup texture, it could be from your car’s engine oil. The engine oil keeps moving pieces in the engine lubricated; if your vehicle is leaking, you need to see a mechanic as soon as possible to check your car and trace the origin of the leak.
  3. Antifreeze:  If you see a thick green, pink or yellow fluid leaking from your car, this is a sign that your antifreeze is in trouble. Hurry! You need to get a mechanic right away!
  4. Power Steering Fluid: As soon as you notice a red to thin brown drips from the front of your vehicle, contact your mechanic right away. If left unattended, this leak can result in costly repairs in the future.
  5. Transmission Fluid: Your transmission fluid acts as a lubricant and coolant for the transmission. If you find a red to thick brown drips from the middle of your car, your car’s seal would most likely need to be repaired right away. Contact a mechanic so they can inspect and repair the fluid leak.
  6. Water: Water sometimes leaks from the air conditioner. So, if you see a clear thin leak coming out from your vehicle, there is no need to worry. This is common and does not need any repairs.

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