The Seven Fluids That May Leak From Your Car | Penney Auto Body & Glass Vancouver

The Seven Fluids That May Leak From Your Car | Penney Auto Body & Glass Vancouver

Picture this: you walk to your car and you see a puddle under it. Last you checked it didn't rain. So what is it? Just as our body is filled with fluids that allow it to function properly, your car is the same. It has a variety of liquids pumping through it that allow it to run at its best.

Knowing how to identify each liquid puddle under your car can help prevent small mechanical problems from turning into a $2,000 mechanic’s bill.

Below we take a look at some of the most common car leaks and explain what they mean.

Coolant (Antifreeze)

Coolant or antifreeze typically has a greenish colour, but it can also be bright orange or pink. It has a bit of a sticky, viscous feel to it.

Antifreeze is one of the most common leaks, but it’s not the most serious leak to have. When you can, do get it fixed as soon as possible. Coolant regulates the temperature in your engine and if left unchecked, the leak can lead to your engine overheating and your car dying on the side of the road. Plus coolant leaks are extremely toxic to pets, and to make matters worse, coolant has sort of a sweet smell and taste, which makes it attractive to pets. 

Places to check for coolant leaks are the radiator, radiator hoses, heater hoses, and engine core plugs.


Gas leaks are easy to identify. Does the puddle in your garage smell like gas? Yes? You probably have a gas leak.

If the gas puddle is near the rear of the car, it probably means you have a leaky gas tank. If the puddle is near the front, there may be something wrong with the fuel pump. Also check the fuel lines for the source of the leak.


Another very common fluid to leak from your car is engine oil. If your car leaks oil while your car is parked and leaves a puddle on the ground, get it fixed ASAP. An oil leak can adversely affect oil levels in your car, and if left unchecked, can cause engine damage.

An oil leak can come from a variety of sources like:

  • bad or worn oil gasket
  • high oil pressure

You may notice that oil leaks slowly from various parts in the engine. Keep an eye on it and do your best to get it looked at as soon as you can.

Brake Fluid

Brake fluid is clear to yellowish in colour and has a medium thickness and a slightly oily feel. If you see this type of puddle under your car, get your car towed to a mechanic immediately. Don’t even try to drive your car over there because your car’s brake system works on a hydraulic pressure system. A leak in brake fluid will cause a drop in pressure, which may result in brake failure. 

Fortunately, in most modern cars, brake fluid leaks are rare. If you do have one, you’ll usually find it near the wheels or in the area directly under the brake pedal. Keep an eye on it.

Automatic Transmission Fluid

Automatic transmission fluid has a light reddish colour when it’s new and a dark red or brownish colour when it’s old. It’s thick and has an almost oil-like feel. 

Transmission fluid serves as a lubricant in you car’s transmission so that your car shifts gears smoothly and correctly. The fluid also serves as a coolant in the transmission. If your car gets low on transmission fluid, you run the risk of grinding or burning your transmission to pulp. Replacing a transmission can run you $2,000 and up, depending on the car. So getting your leaks fixed is definitely worth the investment.

Look for transmission fluid leaks near the front or middle of the car, particularly near the transmission filler tube, near the transmission fluid drain hole, at the selector shaft (it’s the rod that connects your gear shift to your transmission), and between the transmission and engine.

Power Steering Fluid

Power steering makes turning your car a breeze. Without it, you have to put some muscle into turning the steering wheel. Like your brakes, most power steering systems work using hydraulics. As you turn the wheel, power steering fluid fills a cylinder in your steering's system, which in turn applies a force to the wheels to help you turn. If you experience a drop in your power steering fluid turning your car will be more laborious. 

Many cars actually useautomatic transmission fluid as the power steering fluid. So if you notice a reddish stain on the ground and your car has been a little more difficult to steer, chances are you have a power steering leak. Check your owner’s manual to find out what your car uses for power steering fluid.

Your car’s steering system is towards the front of the car. Possible sources for a leak include the power steering reservoir, power steering pump, and hoses connecting the power steering system.

Windshield Washer Solvent

Windshield wiper fluid is typically blue, but it can be green or orange. The liquid is really thin and feels like water. Check the windshield wiper fluid reservoir and the tubes that carry fluid for any leaks. This isn’t a serious leak, you do want to fix it sooner than later. The wiper fluid cleans your windshield of stuck-on debris and allows you to see clearer.


Penney Auto Body & Glass, Vancouver’s Auto Body Collision Repair Shop, is an expert in paint and body repair and cares about the welfare of your car and your personal safety. If you get involved in an automotive accident or you're a victim of a vehicle break-in or theft be sure to contact Penney Auto Body for your auto body, collision repair, and car painting services.


Contact Info


8225 Main St Vancouver

Opening Hours

Mon. - Fri. 8:30 AM - 5:30 PM

Sat. 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM