No one wants to see a large puddle of fluid sitting under their car as they are heading out to work in the morning. Some drivers might pretend they don’t see the fluid accumulation while others might dismiss it a spilled soda. Yet overlooking such a puddle is rarely a wise choice because it usually signals an impending auto repair that is needed.
Our Advise on Repairs by Puddle Color:
Use this guide to help associate puddle color and texture with the most likely car repair needed:
- Clear-water Puddle – A puddle of water could be from the rain but if you live in San Diego, it’s more likely that it is from the air conditioning unit specifically the defroster. Some water dripping from the AC is normal, but if there’s a lot of dripping it could signal a need for air conditioning repair.
- Greenish Puddle – An accumulation of a greenish slimy substance under your vehicle most likely signals something is amiss in your coolant system. It’s worth nothing that sometimes coolant leaks form yellow or even pink puddles. How long has it been since you’ve had a coolant system service or flush? A quick albeit temporary solution would be to check and refill the coolant level. This may hold you over for the day but you should still get your vehicle to a repair shop for a look.
- Oil Spill – A black or light brown puddle of fluid generally signifies an oil leak. If assessed and taken care of right away, this could save you a lot of money on engine repair costs. It literally could be the difference between a few hundred bucks to replace a hose or gasket versus a few thousand bucks to replace the engine.
- Murky Brownish or Reddish Color – This one is a doozey and can be even hard for seasoned mechanics to distinguish. Such a color could signal either a transmission fluid leak (more serious) or a power steering fluid leak (less serious). Same as the principle above, the sooner you get the problem checked out the better. Minor transmission repair will cost a whole lot less than rebuilding the transmission system.
- Extremely Slick, Clear to Yellowish Puddle – A leak that fits this description is very serious. Brake fluid is not designed to leak from the vehicle in the same way that engine oil, transmission fluid and antifreeze sometimes will. As such, your vehicle is undriveable at this point and should immediately be towed – not driven — to a local auto repair shop. This is truly a cause for alarm; driving a vehicle with brake fluid leaking is essentially like driving a car without brakes.