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Every vehicle has many moving metal parts, which must be lubricated in order to ensure impeccable performance. And this is one of the most common problems that every car owner in Australia faces – the fluid leak. A tiny little spot under your car may be trying to tell you something. If you notice a recurring drip or a leak spot under the car on your parking area, it is recommended to find out what’s leaking from your car as soon as possible. Any car leaking fluid can lead to expensive car repairs and dangerous situations or accidents if the problem not sanitized in time.
But simply looking under the hood or under the car doesn’t always provide answers. There are many different types of fluids which find use in your car. Fortunately, the car fluids differ in colour, texture and smell. With little knowledge and understanding about the car fluids, finding the source and the cause for the fluid leak will be much easier. Here are some of the most common fluid leaks and how to identify them.
Oil is definitely the most common fluid that you will find under your car. Unused oil usually has a gold colour, but this depends on the brand. Some oil brands feature a dark amber colour like a light beer. The texture of the oil is quite slippery, and it is quiet difficult to remove it from your hands with water only. Soap or other cleaning solution is necessary. The motor oil gets very dark when it is in the engine for a quite long time, because it collects all the debris and unburned gases from the engine. Motor oil smells like cooking spray or burnt butter. It gets extremely hot which is why it gets that burnt smell with a little hint of fuel. The most common areas for oil leaks are the timing covers, the valve cover gaskets, the oil drain bolts and the oil filters. If you notice oil leaks under your car, place a cardboard under the car in order to identify the leaking area. It is always recommended to visit your local mechanic workshop to fix the oil leak on time.
The automatic transmission generally uses red or pink fluid. If it is very old, the automatic transmission fluid turns into brown and dark gray colour. The texture of the transmission fluid is similar to the motor oil, and it smells like cooking oil. A sign that you might have transmission fluid leaks is when the transmission starts to slip and eventually the car stops moving. Again, you can place a cardboard under your car to identify the leaking areas. The most common areas for transmission fluid leaks are the axle seals and the output shaft seals. This depends whether the car is using front wheel drive system or a rear wheel drive system. If you notice a red or pink fluid under your car, remove the transmission dipstick and check the level of the transmission fluid, or go to your local mechanic to identify the cause for the transmission fluid leak.
The brake fluid is clear and usually has a light yellow colour with dull mechanical smell. The brake fluid is described as highly corrosive to paint. If you ever pour a brake fluid on your car paint you need to quickly wash it with a window cleaner. This way, you will neutralize the corrosive elements in the brake fluid. When the brake fluid is not changed for a long period, it gets green because it collects the moisture from the brake fluid reservoir. The areas for brake fluid leaks are the master cylinders and the flex lines. If the master cylinders are leaking brake fluid, it will usually appear near the brake pedal. If the flex line leaks it will appear near the wheels. Brake fluid leak isn’t something you want to ignore. If you notice signs of brake fluid leak, act quickly! Visit your local mechanic and resolve this problem immediately.
Some cars use transmission fluid as power steering fluid, but you can also buy special power steering fluid for your car. This fluid has light yellow colour and medium thickness. It has a unique smell which cannot be compared with other fluids. Most closely it has some kind of burnt smell. The most common areas for power steering fluid leaks if you have rack and pinon steering are the ends of the steering rack, and the rack end seals. If your car has steering gear box, the power steering fluid leaks would appear at the bottom of the seal of the steering gear box. If you notice power steering leaks, check the steering rack boots and see if they are wet. If they are, this may be a sign that you need to replace the entire steering rack.
The differential fluid is very thick lubricant used in cars. It has strong and stinky smell, and if your hands get dirty with differential fluid, they will smell for days. The differential fluid has a colour of honey, but it tends to get gray because it absorbs metal dust when the gears are meshing. The most common areas for differential fluid leaks would be the pinon seal and the axle seals. If the axle seals are leaking, you will most likely see spots at the hub area close to the wheel area. If the pinon seal is leaking, you will see spots at the u-joint near the differential.
Coolant fluid leaks are most likely the second most common right after the motor oil leaks. This fluid can either be green or pink, but most commonly it comes in green colour. It has sweet smell and it is highly viscous. Usually, coolant leaks appear beneath the radiator or near the front end of the engine. Coolant leeks can be very dangerous because they can cause engine overheating. Ensure you sanitize the problem in time to prevent future costly repairs.
When it comes to buying a car, most new owners are concerned with the type of transmission and which one is better: manual or automatic? Because both types have pros and cons, this is not a question to which we can give simple and direct answer. Many aspects need to be taken into consideration before deciding to either follow the public opinion on favourable automatic cars or choose a slightly more complex and reliable car with manual transmission system. We know that this may seem as an overrated advice from a car freak, but it is quite true. Or as some car owners like to say: ‘You are what you drive.
Before we start describing the advantages and disadvantages of both types of transmission, we will provide an overview of the structure of a transmission system in the car and how it actually works. A transmission system controls the amount of power a car engine uses, thus increasing and decreasing the speed while driving. The transmission, also referred to as gearbox, has several gears (usually 4 to 6, depending on the car model). The gearbox has only one main function – it transfers power and torque from a rotating sub-part to the car’s wheels. Each gear provides different level of power and as we all know gear one is the weakest and it is used only to start driving. Because we are talking about two types of transmission (automatic and manual) it is worth mentioning that there are detailed differences in their structures.
Generally speaking, manual transmission cars are a cheaper option along with the transmission servicing costs. The difference in costs between manual and automatic gearbox was much higher a decade ago. And even with recent efforts to reduce these costs, manual transmission cars are still cheaper and easier to maintain. Automatic gearboxes are more complex in structure and therefore need to be serviced more often in order to preserve them and prevent the battery from running out. Moreover, there are still many car mechanics that refuse to work on automatic cars because they don’t have the proper experience and expertise.
Any experienced driver or car admirer in general will tell you that manual transmission is better and in some situations, even easier to drive. What manual transmission provides for the driver is full control over the car in terms of how much power is used and optimal fuel economy. On the other hand, automatic gearboxes are way better for traffic jams where instead of shifting from 1st to 2nd gear all the time, all you need to do is press the gas pedal. Automatic transmission beats manual even on long roads because it allows easier cruise drive and greater driving freedom. Researchers have gone even deeper in their evaluation of automatic and manual transmission, claiming that automatic driving can be less stressful than manual (try saying that to a person that has been driving a manual car for his entire life).
Most drivers are aware of the fact that automatic cars have high power engines and thus consume more fuel in urban and open road areas. According to some experts, automatic transmission cars use 10% more fuel than manual-based cars. But, if we take a look at continuous advancements in the car manufacturing industry, it will be no surprise if this difference in fuel economy gets lower or even maybe evens out one day. Even today there are some car models with automatic transmission that have bellow average fuel economy, which consequently boosts their market price.
In conclusion, a buyer’s dilemma between a manual and an automatic transmission is based on personal taste and lifestyle. We mentioned that people who like cars in general and collect cars can never be convinced that automatic cars are better than the manual-based ones. However, busy people who live in large cities will say that this is a total nonsense and that automatic cars are far more practical.