How To Know Whats Leaking Based On Fluid Color

Imagine walking up to your car on your way to work, when you notice a small puddle underneath the vehicle. It sure wasn’t there before, or was it? It really doesn’t matter, because anything leaking means there is a problem. How bad the problem depends on the color, and that’s what will be discussed here.

First, let’s look at the possible colors that you can potentially find; a light brown to black puddle, reddish thin or brown thick puddle, reddish to light brown thin puddle. If that wasn’t enough, a clear to brown slick, yellow, or green puddle, clear and thin puddle all can be found. Phew!

Light Brown to Black

The color will mostly be related to how old the liquid is. More than likely, this is engine oil, a typical leak for an older vehicle. Unless there isn’t a size of a swimming pool slick, you will be okay. Always take precautionary measures and check the level your vehicle is currently at before taking the vehicle for a spin. A quick fix such as thick oil additives can shore up the leak. However, if the liquid smells like rotten eggs it could be a lube oil leak. This is usually located anywhere from the center to the rear axle or manual transmission.

Reddish to Light Brown Thin

You will mostly find this at the front of the vehicle. These colors represent a power steering leak. You will want to check the level of your power steering using the correct dipstick. Keep in mind that the low-level fluid will cause the power steering to become unusable or very difficult to steer.

Clear/Light Yellow to Brown Slick

This is a more dangerous color. A clear to brown slick is likely to be brake fluid. Obviously, you don’t want to take a chance driving your vehicle with no brakes. The issue with the leak is that the car/truck relies on hydraulic pressure to work; if there is a leak, then there will be a lack of pressure, causing the brake to fail. The one thing to take notice is that it can look like motor oil. The main difference is slickness. If it is more slippery than it is likely brake fluid. If you do find this color, the best option is to have someone tow the vehicle to your nearest mechanic.

Yellow, Pink or Green Puddle

More than likely, this is a problem with the radiator. The radiator helps cool the engine so that it won’t overheat. Also, keep in mind that it may be a hose that has sustained some damage. This also may be a better situation for having your vehicle towed rather than risking blowing the engine.

When spotting the color of fluids.

Check to see what color it is.

Take note on where the leak is located.

Check the correct dipstick under the hood

Other colors to keep a record of

Orange-Reddish Brown (transmission)

Clear (Water)

No matter the color, take it to a shop if you are unsure.

Where to get Vehicle Fluids online

You can buy the vehicle fluids from the following shops online.

Advance Auto Parts
Pep Boys

Cost of Vehicle Fluids

The cost of these fluids varies from shop to shop, however, on an average, the total cost of changing the fluid at its maximum is anywhere from $36 to $40 across the states.

Materials/Tools needed for changing the oil

Drip pan
Adjustable Wrench
Jack stands
Floor jack
Protective clothing
Hand Protection (rag/towel)
Wheel Chocks

Procedures for changing the oil

Changing the oil involves four main parts, which must be followed to have a successful operation.

1. Locate the drain plug

Gather all necessary tools before starting makes the work more efficient. It is important to note the following prior to changing the oil.
-Ensure the vehicle is in park
-Use wedges to hold the tire. The use of wheel chocks around the rear tire is equally useful.
-You can jack the vehicle up if you want more room above you to work
-Place the drip pan under the oil drain

-2. Unscrew the oil plug and oil filter
-Here you will use the paper towel, glove, rag to protect your hand prior to unscrewing the bolt.
-Once the bolt is unscrewed, oil will begin to drain into the pan.
-Move hand from any blockage and allow the oil to fully drain from the car
-Replace the bolt once fully drained
-Grab funnel and new oil bottles to pour into your car
-Pour slowly allowing the oil to flow down
-Replace the cap
-Locate the oil filter and unscrew with your hand or wrench
-Dump any oil remaining into the drain pan
-Take new oil filter and replace it where the old one was
-Run vehicle for approximately one minute

3. Checking for leaks

-After replacing the fluids, you would need to do a few things to make sure everything is sealed
-You can test for leakage by following the procedures below.
-Check for leaks at the drain plug and oil filter
-Run the engine for approximately one-minute
-Check again for leaks at the plug and filter
-After pouring a quart of oil, check the dipstick to make sure the oil is at level.
-Remove the jack, and bring back all the four wheels on the ground.
-Remove all wedges
-Checking for Steering Fluid
-Open the hood and locate the cap.
-It is normally by the engine.
-Check dipstick.
-If it is at a low level, fill it up with power steering fluid.
-Replace cap.

4. Test drive the Vehicle

-While test-driving, your main goal will be to get the new oil in the engine and make sure it is running properly.
-Also, observe the dashboard for the fluid levels and the check light to appear. If your check engine light comes on, that indicates the possibility of a leak within the valve train system. You can seek assistance from your auto electrician, who can go over the installation, you did and check for any error.

Bringing it home

Changing the fluids in your car/truck is easy if all the needed tools are available, and you can follow the procedures above. It is also good vehicle maintenance to change the fluids whenever necessary. Aging oil can damage the engine and compromise the rest of the vehicle.