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Types of Car Fluid Leaks

If you own a vehicle long enough, eventually, it will leak one or more fluids. Usually, this will hardly be noticeable at first. Some leaks are serious, but fortunately, figuring out what the leak is can usually be done by color and smell.

Here are a few common leaks and how to tell when you need to get your vehicle in for service.


Coolant is usually green and is also known as anti-freeze. It is deadly to pets, so you cannot ignore a coolant leak. If you have a coolant leak, get it checked out immediately and follow the directions on coolant product labels to learn how to safely clean it up.

Remember that coolant is vital for the smooth operation of your engine, so ignoring a coolant leak is asking for engine malfunction or failure.


Oil is black, usually, or if it is cleaner, it can be a very dark amber color. Oil is the most important liquid in your engine as it keeps your moving parts lubricated. Without it, the engine can abruptly cease to operate.

Most oil leaks are due to an issue with the oil pan or a leaky gasket. How easy an oil leak is to find and fix depends on your vehicle's make and model.


Transmission fluid is usually dark red or reddish-brown. Automatic transmission fluid leaking can affect the ability of the vehicle to shift into the proper gear. If a transmission goes, it needs to be replaced immediately.

Gear Oil

Manual transmissions or a vehicle with a differential axle will occasionally leak gear oil. The leaked residue will be thick, almost gooey. Gear oil usually leaks due to damaged gaskets but leaks very slowly because it is thick.

Other Fluids

Your vehicle can also leak several other fluids. They are:

  • Power Steering: Usually looks and smells like transmission oil.
  • Brake: This can be amber-ish and smells like fish oil.
  • Wiper Fluid: This can come in multiple colors including bright blue, orange, and even yellow.

If your vehicle is leaking any of these fluids, bring it in for a checkup today!

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