Your car relies on many types of fluids to help it operate normally, and inside your vehicle is where they belong. Sometimes, however, you may notice a colorful puddle on your garage floor. Although that isn’t a good sign, the fluid color can give you a good idea of what the problem might be. That’s because many of the fluids in your car are color-coded. What do they mean?
The fluid is colorless
If your fluid is colorless and has no smell, you’re most likely seeing condensation draining for your air conditioner. This is a completely normal process and isn’t cause for concern.
The fluid is blue
Blue fluid generally belongs to windshield washer fluid. This type of fluid typically smells like window cleaner and is watery in texture.
Although it’s a problem that isn’t going to affect your engine, it can make visibility a challenge if you need to clean your windshield on the road and your reservoir is empty.
The fluid is orange
An orange fluid leak can belong to either your coolant or your automatic transmission. Both types of leaks need to be addressed quickly, as they can lead to you getting stranded on the side of the road.
- Coolant: Orange coolant can occur when rust gets into your coolant system. Coolant has a very distinctive sweet smell and should be kept away from kids or pets, as it’s poisonous.
- Automatic transmission fluid: Although this fluid is typically red or reddish-brown, it can also turn a shade of orange.
Your fluid is pink, green, or yellow
Pink, green and yellow fluids are all potential coolant colors, depending on the brand currently in your vehicle. Coolant has a distinctive, sweet smell.
Green fluid can also belong to some brands of windshield washer fluid. This type of leak will smell like window cleaner, not sweet like coolant.
The fluid is red
Red or reddish-brown fluid can belong to either your automatic transmission or your power steering system. There are a couple of ways to detect the differences between them.
- Power steering fluid: Oily-feeling and thin in consistency, occasionally accompanied by a ‘burnt marshmallow’ smell.
- Automatic transmission fluid: Oily-feeling and thick, and often accompanied by a petroleum or gasoline-like smell.
The fluid is brown or black
You likely have an engine oil leak if the color of the fluid on your garage floor is brown or black. Engine oil is slippery to the touch and smells – you guessed it – like oil. An oil leak isn’t always an urgent problem, but it isn’t going to repair itself, so you’ll need to get an inspection eventually.
The fluid is yellow
Yellow fluid belongs to your brake system and is a very serious type of leak, as your brakes will no longer work if your hydraulic system has no fluid to operate. This fluid is slippery and oily, and may be accompanied by a fishy smell.
The fluid is shiny
Is your garage filled with a strong gasoline smell in addition to a puddle on the floor? If so, you probably have a gasoline leak. This problem can be very serious, so we recommend calling your mechanic as soon as possible.
How serious is the problem?
Although some leaking fluids are no cause for concern, your vehicle’s fluids belong inside your engine. As such, you’ll want to visit your mechanic as soon as possible in order to prevent yourself from getting stranded on the side of the road. But how serious is your issue?
- If you smell gasoline, do not drive your vehicle – it’s unsafe to drive a car that is leaking gasoline. You’ll need to have your car towed to a mechanic in order to diagnose the problem.
- If you find a yellow puddle of brake fluid on your car, it’s unsafe to drive your car. You’ll need to get your car towed to your mechanic for immediate service.
- If there is a puddle that is more than 3 inches wide, your car has a serious leak and needs to be serviced immediately.
- If your puddle is less than 3 inches wide, your car will eventually need to be serviced, but likely isn’t too serious unless it’s brake fluid or gasoline.
How to check if your car has a fluid leak
If you want to be certain where your fluid leak is coming from, all you need to test this is a piece of cardboard and some time.
- Place your cardboard under where you think the leak is coming from.
- Wait overnight.
- Check your cardboard and take note of where the leak is from, the color, how much fluid has leaked overnight, and any odors you may notice.
This information will be very helpful for your mechanic when you take your car in to get serviced.
Repair Your Car Fluid Leak At T3 Atlanta
Whether you’re certain you have a coolant leak or you have no idea what that puddle on your garage floor might be, T3 Atlanta can help. We service Nissan, Lexus, Infiniti, and Toyota vehicles at our Smyrna and Decatur repair shops. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff will be able to diagnose the problem quickly and help you get back on the road. Give us a call today!