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.
Automatic Transmission Fluid Leaks
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.
Brake Fluid Leaks
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.
Power Steering Fluid Leaks
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.
Differential Fluid Leaks
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.