Your car is designed to keep you safe as you travel from one point to another. General maintenance is part of the upkeep, and must not be ignored. One of the easiest ways to troubleshoot your vehicle’s repair needs is by checking fluid levels and identifying fluid leaks as early as possible. Scott Sherman Auto Care is partnering with Washington State Department of Ecology’s Don’t Drip and Drive campaign to share information about car fluids and leaks. Some fluid leaks can be deadly, and all have a direct impact on the environment.
Leaks usually occur at the front (under the engine), near the wheels, or toward the rear/exhaust areas. Here are some quick tips on identifying any fluid leaks in your vehicle:
Engine Oil - Look for light brown to black fluid that is very greasy and slick. To get the most accurate reading of your oil level, ensure you check your engine oil when the engine is cool. If you find that you’re frequently low on oil, give us a call so we look into it.
Transmission Fluid - This is only an issue in an automatic transmission. Look for reddish and thin or brown and thick fluid located at the middle and front of the vehicle. Transmission fluid must be checked while the car is running with the transmission in park or neutral. A manual transmission uses gear oil, and that can only be checked from underneath with a car on a lift. Consult with a professional when you find a transmission leak.
Power Steering Fluid - Look for amber, reddish, or light brown and thin fluid at the very front of the vehicle. This is an important part of your vehicle, and must be checked when the car is not running. Losing this necessary hydraulic fluid can cause a sudden decrease in steering function, leading to a safety hazard. Low or leaking power steering fluid must be checked right way!
Coolant (Anti-Freeze) - Look for yellow or pink fluid. It will be greasy and slimy and located at the front of the vehicle near the radiator. Low coolant causes the engine to overheat. This can ruin your engine and leave you stranded. Never remove your coolant or radiator cap when the engine is hot as the contents are under pressure. Extensive burns have been reported. If you notice a leak or continuous low fluid, contact your repair shop for assistance.
Brake Fluid - Look for clear to brown or slightly yellow and slick fluid near your wheels. Any leaks should be checked right away by a professional because even a small leak can be catastrophic. Without brake fluid, your brake system will not work.
Water - When your air conditioner is running, you’ll often see water dripping under the car on hot days. It’s perfectly normal. If you notice a decline in cool air from your AC, contact a professional to have your cooling system checked.
Fuel - Gasoline is light gold, but appears colorless on the ground while diesel is mostly clear with a slight bluish tint. If you smell or notice a fuel leak, get to a repair shop right away. A fuel leak can result in a fire. Keep in mind that the gas tank is toward the rear of the vehicle, but fuel leaks can occur where the lines run from the gas tank to the engine.
If you find a leak and aren’t sure what it could be, just give us a call. Don’t drip and drive. Your car, and your environment, will thank you.
For more tips and videos on car fluids and leaks, visit the Don’t Drip and Drive website at http://fixcarleaks.org.