What’s That Drip Under My Car?

Puddles of fluid under a car can be a sign that something ominous is happening in your engine. It can also be absolutely nothing to be worried about at all. How do you know when to panic, when to call Norris Automotive? , or when to casually walk on by?

Brake fluid. A medium thick, oily yellowish substance under your vehicle could be brake fluid. Your brakes depend on brake fluid to stop your car, and a leak is a huge safety hazard. If you think your brakes might be leaking fluid, you should not drive it at all. Have it towed to us for a repair.

Gasoline. The good thing about a gas leak is that you’re going to be able to identify it because of the smell. You may have a fuel pump issue, or you might have a hole in your gas tank. Both of these are easy repairs. Don’t worry, a gas leak isn’t going to cause an explosion right away, but you do need to get your vehicle to us as soon as you can.

Antifreeze. There is a very distinctive smell to antifreeze. You’ve smelled it walking past cars in parking lots and known that someone had a radiator issue. Leaks will usually show up at the front of the car, and will leave a greenish puddle that feels slimy and smells sweet. Antifreeze is extremely toxic to pets, and although there is an additive in antifreeze that designed to make it less attractive to dogs and cats, you shouldn’t take a chance. Clean up any antifreeze as soon as you notice it. Then check your radiator overflow tank. If it’s empty, you’ve found your leak.

Since antifreeze keeps your car cool, you don’t want to let it get low. Otherwise you may find yourself stranded on the side of the road with an overheated – and possibly ruined – engine.

Oil. It’s very common to see oil under a car. It’s thick, and usually is dark brown or even black, although if you’ve recently had an oil change, it could be amber in color. Oil leaks can come from many areas under your car, because it is what lubricates the engine. It’s crucial to keep too much from leaking out, but usually a few drips won’t bother anything. If you’ve been seeing more frequent leaks, let us know when you bring your car in for service.

Transmission Fluid. A puddle that is red and slick is probably transmission fluid. Often a leak is from something as simple as a leak in the pan or drain plug, but there could also be more serious issues. While a slow leak isn’t going to cause immediate issues, you need to find and fix the source of the problem as soon as you kind.

Washer Fluid. Blue, orange, or green, windshield wiper fluid feels a bit like windex, which is no surprise considering its job. If you notice it’s leaking, check to see if there is a leak in the tubes or the reservoir that are near your wipers. Windshield wiper fluid is especially important during the nasty pollen season of Southern spring, but a leak isn’t a danger to your engine.

Water. If the weather is hot outside, there’s a good chance that the condensation from your air conditioner is creating that puddle of just plain old water. Don’t sweat it! You’re in the clear on this one.

Whether you’re in the clear or spot one of those ominous leaks, at Norris we’re here to help you with all of your drips and leaks and squeaks. Give us a call today and schedule your vehicle repair, maintenance, or inspection!

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