My Car Is Leaking Fluid: Six Liquids That May Drip From a Car

Updated on May 8, 2018
eddiecarrara profile image

Eddie spent 33 years in the automotive business with Honda. He is an ASE Certified Master Technician and has bruised knuckles to prove it.

What Is That Fluid Leaking Under My Car?

Something dripping from a car might or might not indicate a dangerous situation that needs attention. In this article I will cover the six most common fluid leaks from a car—from the leaks that will leave you stranded, to the leaks that should be in fact be happening. Yes, there are times when fluids should leak naturally from your car, and we will cover that as well. Let’s try to figure out what fluid is leaking from your car and what you should do about it.

Find the Source, Check the Color

First of all, before you start worrying, make sure the fluid leak is coming from your car and not the vehicle that was parked in that spot before you got there. Just grab a flashlight, get down on one knee, and take a good look under your car.

If the fluid is coming from your car, you need to determine the fluid’s color. The best way to do that is to slide a piece of white cardboard or a piece of plywood under your car and let the car drip onto it. Capturing the drip this way will enlighten you in two ways: one, it will reveal the color, and two, it will give you a good indication of where the fluid is leaking from. First, without moving the board, notice where the drip is hitting the board; turn your head and look up from this point at the bottom of your car and see exactly where your leak is coming from. Once you have a clear view of where the fluid is leaking from, remove the board and check the color.

Different Fluids Have Different Colors

Six fluids dripped onto cardboard
Six fluids dripped onto cardboard | Source

Six Most Common Fluids to Leak from a Car

The six fluids that most commonly drip from a car are:

  • water
  • motor oil
  • transmission fluid
  • coolant
  • gear oil, or differential fluid
  • and power steering fluid.

I left brake fluid out of this list, because it’s not common for brake fluid to leave a puddle under your car. Nevertheless a brake fluid leak is potentially serious (see my article about common brake problems). Just for quick reference, brake fluid color is clear to amber, and smells like fish oil; if you doubt me, take the cap off the brake fluid reservoir and sniff the cap.

1. Water Leaking From Your Car

The three H’s--hazy, hot and humid—are probably the most common cause of fluid leaking from a car, in the eastern U.S. at least. A car’s air conditioner needs to do something with the moisture it removes from the air inside the passenger compartment. It drains the water onto the ground under the car, via a rubber hose.

On very humid days, the water will pour out of the air conditioner drain onto the ground like from a faucet, until the cabin humidity is almost gone. This is what I meant earlier when I said that some leaks are supposed to happen.

This hose is usually at the front right (near the area where the passenger rests their feet) or in the middle of the cabin. If you have a newer minivan or large SUV with front and rear climate control, it’s possible to have two evaporators and two air conditioner drains, one in front and one in the rear.

Dual Climate Control

Dual climate control on a 2011 Honda Pilot.  The rear controls are the blue and red arrows at right under “RR lock.” Fan speed is controlled from the rear controller.
Dual climate control on a 2011 Honda Pilot. The rear controls are the blue and red arrows at right under “RR lock.” Fan speed is controlled from the rear controller. | Source

Here's a tip: when you use the air conditioning system, it’s best to keep the recirculation button in the “on” position rather than the “fresh air” position (see picture below of the recirculation button on a Honda). If you leave the car in “fresh air” mode, it will continue to drag humid air into the car, the vehicle’s cabin will never reach optimum temperature, and sometimes when the weather is extremely humid, the air will turn into fog as it pours from your vents into your car’s passenger cabin. If you ever experience this phenomenon, reach over and push the recirculation button. The recirculated air will lose humidity on each pass through the evaporator, and your air conditioner will be working at maximum efficiency (see my article on how to defog car windows fast).

Recirculation Button

Recirculation button (at left) next to the fresh air button (at right) (2011 Honda Pilot).  The recirculation button should be on when using air conditioning, but should not be on otherwise; it will fog up your windows.
Recirculation button (at left) next to the fresh air button (at right) (2011 Honda Pilot). The recirculation button should be on when using air conditioning, but should not be on otherwise; it will fog up your windows. | Source

2. Oil Leaks

Engine oil, or “motor oil,” may vary in color from light amber to dark brown, depending on how well you maintain your car. If there is an oil leak, common sense tells you that it will be under the engine, but it’s not always immediately obvious where your engine is located. Don’t laugh: on a front-wheel-drive car, your engine could be located at the front left or front right, depending on where the transmission sits, and the engine could be in the rear of the car if you’re driving a Porsche or a VW bug. Once you figure out the oil is dripping from the engine, all you have to do is pinpoint the leak. You might want a mechanic to take a look at it if you can’t find exactly where it is leaking from. Oil leaks can come from some pretty obscure sources, like a crankshaft seal under the timing cover, or they can come from something easy to spot like a valve cover gasket.

If you know you have an engine oil leak, check your dipstick frequently. Do not drive a car that's low on oil. It will overheat and damage itself. If you have a massive oil leak do not drive your car at all.

Oil Dipstick

Notice the brownish color of the motor oil or engine oil.
Notice the brownish color of the motor oil or engine oil. | Source

3. Coolant or Antifreeze Leaks

Coolant comes in many colors now; it used to be green, but now its color depends on the manufacturer of the car or the coolant. Honda provides a blue coolant, Mercedes uses clear, Toyota uses red, and I have seen orange, green and all the colors of the rainbow. Coolant has a sweet smell, like candy, and also a sweet taste. Don’t taste it—it’s half ethylene glycol, which is poison—but I have tasted it a few times in my career, not by choice.

Coolant in the Overflow Tank

Honda brand coolant is blue.
Honda brand coolant is blue. | Source

A coolant leak could be almost anywhere, because of all the coolant hoses that surround your engine. Some coolant hoses (the heater hoses) go into the passenger compartment itself. But the most common place for a coolant leak is your radiator, and that will be located behind the grill in the very front of the car.

If you suspect you have a coolant leak, you may be able to smell it. Take a quick glance at the coolant overflow tank; it is usually see-through and has “high” and “low” markings on it.

If it’s empty, or you aren’t sure what you are seeing, let your engine cool completely and look in the radiator. Do not remove the radiator cap on a hot engine. It could blow hot coolant or steam into your face and cause severe burns. If you can’t see any coolant when you are peering down into the radiator, you may have a leak.

You don’t want to drive a car that has lost a massive amount of coolant. It can overheat and ruin the engine. Keep an eagle eye on the temperature gauge. Or better yet, tow it to where it can be fixed.

The Radiator Cap

Heed the warning! Don't take the cap off a hot radiator.
Heed the warning! Don't take the cap off a hot radiator. | Source
You should see coolant when you look inside the radiator.
You should see coolant when you look inside the radiator. | Source

4. Transmission Fluid Leaks

Automatic transmissions use red or pink fluid, and lots of it. Very often, the first sign of an automatic transmission leaking is that the transmission will start to slip (the car will rev without going into gear). If the leak continues, eventually the car will not move at all.

Automatic transmissions use fluids specially formulated by the manufacturer. If you don’t use Honda-made automatic transmission fluid (ATF) in a Honda automatic transmission, you will compromise shift quality and void your warranty, so I recommend following Honda’s guidelines and using their recommended fluids.

Standard (“manual”) transmissions use gear oil (like heavy, strong-smelling motor oil; see “Gear Oil” below) or the manufacturer's proprietary manual transmission fluid. Very old Hondas use regular motor oil in their standard transmissions.

The most common place for a transmission fluid leak on a front-wheel drive car is the axle seals; on a rear-wheel-drive car it is the output shaft seal. If you see red or pink fluid under your car, pull the transmission dipstick and check your transmission fluid level. Check the owner’s manual for the proper way to check transmission fluid, different manufacturers have different ways of checking transmission fluids. Some manufacturers don’t even let you check the fluid: the last model of the Honda Passport had no way of checking the transmission fluid—weird!

Honda Transmission Fluid

The end of the transmission fluid dip stick.  Notice that the fluid is red.
The end of the transmission fluid dip stick. Notice that the fluid is red. | Source

5. Gear Oil or Differential Fluid Leaks

Differential fluid, hypoid, gear oil, or gear fluid: whatever you call it, it’s very thick, it looks like honey, and it smells like a warm, greasy Mack truck sitting at a truck stop. If you get this stuff on your hands the smell doesn’t go away for days. Gear oil is dark brown, or dark amber if it’s new and clean. If your rear differential is leaking, or your standard transmission has a leak, you will find this fluid dripping. Gear oil can also leak from the wheel bearing seals or rear axle seals. Sometimes you will see oil being slung from the center of the wheel all over the wheel rim of the vehicle. Dust will collect on the wheel and turn black. If you have a four-wheel-drive car, gear oil can leak from the front axle as well. The smell alone will enable you to determine if it’s gear oil or not.

What an Axle Seal Leak Looks Like on a Honda Tractor

Axle seal not leaking
Axle seal not leaking | Source
Leaking axle seal.  Diirt sticking to the differential fluid all over the outside of the wheel is a sure sign of an axle seal leak.
Leaking axle seal. Diirt sticking to the differential fluid all over the outside of the wheel is a sure sign of an axle seal leak. | Source

6. Power Steering Fluid Leaks

Power steering fluid is hard to describe specifically because some manufacturers use transmission fluid and some use their own brand of power steering fluid. Honda uses its own proprietary power steering fluid which is light amber in color. Power steering fluid may have a distinctive smell, kind of like burnt cooking oil. If you think you might have a power steering fluid leak, the first place you should look is at the reservoir. The reservoir will have high and low markings and it should be easy to see whether the fluid level is low. Other signs that fluid is low is that the power steering pump will whine when trying to turn the steering wheel, or the steering wheel will feel tight when turning in a parking lot or at low speeds. The most common place the power steering will leak is on each end of the steering rack. The steering rack has end seals on both sides of the steering rack; they are the first to start leaking because they go through the most wear and tear.


I Don't Recommend Using "Stop Leak"!

I have one last tip; I do not recommend using any additives that claim to stop leaks unless it is absolutely necessary. These products are at best a temporary fix that could cause a permanent problem by damaging your car's drive train. Do your car a favor and avoid using them.

This is a blocked coolant passage. The customer used "Stop Leak" in the cooling system and caused even more problems.
This is a blocked coolant passage. The customer used "Stop Leak" in the cooling system and caused even more problems. | Source

Fluid Leaks From a Car: FAQ’s

Why Is There Water Leaking From My Car?

Water leaking from a car is very common, especially when using the air conditioner. The air conditioner removes moisture from the passenger's compartment and drains it under the vehicle via a drain hose. This hose is typically located under the passenger's foot well or in the center of the vehicle just below the dash area.

Something to keep in mind is that in most newer vehicles, when you are in defrost mode, the air conditioning automatically comes on to remove moisture from the windshield area to give the driver a clear view inside and out. Thus water may drip from under the passenger compartment of a newer car even if you haven't turned on the air conditioner.

What Does It Mean When Your Car is Leaking Oil?

When your car is leaking oil it usually means you have a gasket or a seal that has either been damaged or has just worn out due to age. If you notice an oil leak, I recommend you make an appointment with your mechanic to have it at least diagnosed to determine the severity of the leak.

Do "Stop Oil Leak" Products Work?

"Stop oil leak" products are not a permanent fix for any oil leak. You may even cause more leaks using the products or even worse, clog up an oil galley.

These products were designed to temporarily stop small oil leaks and I don't recommend using them unless it's absolutely necessary.

Can You Drive a Car With an Oil Leak?

If the oil leak is not pouring out of the engine, or dripping onto any hot components like an exhaust manifold, a car with an oil leak can be driven. But if oil is dripping from your car, I don't recommend driving it, because the car could completely stop running at any time and leave you stranded. Or worse, the leak could destroy your engine.

If you must drive a car with an oil leak, you will need to check your oil frequently, and you will need to be the judge of how bad it's leaking and how often it will need to be topped off.

Oil leaking from an engine can cause a huge mess wherever you park and permanently damage asphalt surfaces, so keep that in mind when parking at someone's house, especially if you like those people.

Is it Bad to Drive With a Leaking Head Gasket?

The problem with driving a vehicle with a leaking head gasket is the car can quit on the driver at any time.

When a head gasket is leaking, it can leak in many different ways. It can leak into the combustion chamber and cause the spark plugs to fail. This in turn can cause clogged catalytic converters, and cause plumes of thick smoke from the exhaust pipe.

Coolant or oil can leak past the head gasket and out the side of the engine causing either a low-oil or low-coolant condition. These can cause the engine to overheat or "seize," to stop running and start melting.

If you think you may have a blown head gasket, I recommend getting it checked so you know exactly what is wrong and whether it is safe to drive in that condition.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix an Oil Leak on a Car?

The cost to fix an oil leak can vary greatly depending on what's leaking and where. Some of the most common leaks are seals and gaskets.

The rear main seal is one of the most costly oil leaks because of the location of the leak. The rear main seal is located between the engine and transmission and the mechanic will need to remove one of these components to replace the seal. The cost is usually around $1000 or more to fix this oil leak.

How Do You Know if You Have a Transmission Fluid Leak?

Most vehicles use a red or pink fluid in the transmission which is very noticeable when you see it on the driveway or garage floor. If you don't notice the leak, eventually the transmission will begin to slip under acceleration or while driving.

What Are the Symptoms of Low Transmission Fluid?

The main symptom of low transmission fluid is the transmission slipping: the engine will rev up, but the car will not move, or it will move very little compared to engine RPM.

Another symptom of low transmission fluid is "surging": the transmission will slip in and out of gear causing a surging feeling while driving at a steady speed.

Can a Transmission Leak Be Fixed?

Yes, transmission fluid leaks can be fixed unless the transmission case is cracked or damaged beyond repair. Transmission fluid may leak from seals, gaskets, lines, and fittings.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix a Transmission Fluid Leak?

The cost to fix a transmission fluid leak would depend on what is leaking and what type of vehicle it is. The most common leak on a front-wheel drive vehicle is an axle seal. The average cost to replace an axle seal in a non-4-wheel drive vehicle would range from $200 to $400 US dollars.

In rear-wheel-drive vehicles, the most common transmission fluid leak is the output shaft seal where the drive shaft connects to the transmission. The cost to replace this seal may be a little less then than on a front-wheel-drive vehicle because there are fewer parts to be removed to perform the job.

These are the most common leaks we see on a day-to-day basis, but there are a lot more places the transmission can leak, like transmission lines, transmission coolers, and input shaft seals and gasket.

What Color Is Antifreeze?

The color of antifreeze has changed over the years and it now comes in almost every color in the rainbow. I recommend using the manufacturer's coolant, but if you can't do that, at least use the same color coolant. Mixing two different color coolants can lead to a brown coolant; it may still protect your engine from corrosion and overheating, but it doesn't look very pretty.

Share Your Experiences

If you have any questions about a fluid leak in your car, just leave me a comment in the comment section below and I will respond quickly. Your experiences are useful to me and others.


Questions & Answers

  • I have a 2013 Toyota Camry and it is leaking water when parked and I have not used my AC?

    When you use the windshield defrost mode the AC automatically operates to remove moisture from the windshield area and passengers compartment so it's possible you are using the AC without even knowing it :)

  • Is there any reason a brand new 2018 Honda Accord I just bought last week would already be leaking oil?

    Nope, but I recommend getting it back to the dealer asap to have it checked. It could be a faulty oil filter gasket.

  • I have a 2001 Ford Taurus, and it's leaking clear fluid from the passenger side. What could be the problem?

    It's most likely that the air conditioner is draining water out of the evaporator. If it's only water, there is no need to worry.

  • I have a 2007 Hyundai Tucson. Oil changed every 3000 miles. I am seeing oil on my garage floor. When I check the oil dipstick it is on full?

    Engine gaskets and seals dry out over time from normal wear and tear and have to be replaced periodically. I recommend having a mechanic you trust put it up on a lift and do an inspection of your oil leak. The mechanic may have to wash down the engine to verify when the leak is coming from so it may be two trips to the garage, one to clean the engine, the second to look for leaks after driving a couple hundred miles. If it is a very active leak, it may take only one trip.

Comments

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    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      3 weeks ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Magnus,

      Use a flashlight to look at the rear brake backing plate, it could be either wheel. bearing grease or brake fluid, do your brakes feel soft?

    • profile image

      Magnus Evershed 

      4 weeks ago

      Hello,

      I have a 64 reg Alfa Romeo Guilietta 1.4 petrol. I have noticed today that a rather large patch of oil has appeared from just in front of my rear passenger side tyre. Smells like oil, not petrol so not sure where it is coming from.

      Any ideas?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      8 weeks ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Mark,

      It's sounds like your intake manifold gasket is leaking and is causing your problem. Coolant/water run through the intake so if the gasket is compromised you will loose coolant/water and the engine will overheat. Let me know if this helps, thanks.

    • Mark Castellanos profile image

      Mark Castellanos 

      2 months ago

      I have a 2010 ford focus and water is leaking from the side of the manifold causing the car to leak all the water from the radiator and water from the resorvoir.The car overheats and I would like to know if my head gasket is blown?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      2 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Damu,

      Green fluid is usually coolant, but it wouldn't be by the rear tire unless it was tracking under the vehicle from a front leak. I recommend having it checked just to be sure you don't have a small coolant leak. Let me know what you find, thanks.

    • profile image

      Damu 

      2 months ago

      I have a light green fluid leaking at the bottom of my 335i bmw by the passenger side front and rear tires

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      2 months ago from New Hampshire

      Thanks Tim, I really appreciate the feedback :)

    • timothy-malche profile image

      Timothy Malche 

      2 months ago from Jabalpur, M.P., India

      this is good info. great work.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      3 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Greg,

      Most likely you either blew a radiator hose or your radiator let go. I recommend having it towed because once the coolant is gone the engine will overheat and fail, and you don't want that. Keep me posted, thanks.

    • profile image

      greg lucio 

      3 months ago

      I have a 2002 Honda civic n I was driving down the road n some kind of liduid started to come on windshield , I pull over n open hood n notice some smoke n liquid by radiotar bu the car never got hot

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      3 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Tammy,

      Most likely your master cylinder is leaking inside your vehicle. First check the brake fluid level and add some if needed, then take a flashlight and look under the dash at the brake pedal, look up near the pivot point where the brake pedal meets the rod coming from the brake booster, most like you'll see brake fluid leaking somewhere in that area, if so, you'll need to replace the master cylinder. Let me know what you find, thanks.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      3 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Jen,

      Are you sure it's oil and not water draining from the AC evaporator ? The drain is located directly below the passengers footwell under the car.

    • profile image

      Jen 

      3 months ago

      HI, I have an 05 Honda civic lx that I've had about a month, today I used the air for the 1rst time and when I got home, it dumped about 1/2 quart of oil in driveway on passenger side of car and smells like oil and antifreeze. What could that be? Thanks

    • profile image

      Tammy 

      3 months ago

      Hi, I have a 2001 Honda crv (manual), driver's side floorboard has lots of oil in carpet. What could be the cause?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      4 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Hadley,

      Do you live in a humid area? Are you using your AC? Where is the location of the water coming from?

    • profile image

      Hadley 

      4 months ago

      Water pours out of my 2004 Sonata. But can't really tell where and what it is.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      4 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Greg,

      If the leak is in the front of the vehicle on the drivers side it may be a radiator hose or radiator itself. If it's more towards the center of the engine on the drivers side, then it's possible your water pump is starting to leak. Let me know what you find.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      4 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Emily,

      The cooling system holds about 4 gallons of coolant so you will not notice anything at first. I recommend having the system checked, it may be a hose or something small. You don't want to get stranded with an overheating engine so get it checked out asap.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      4 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Cora,

      You either have a transmission line leaking or the transmission cooler is leaking, it is located in or around the radiator. I recommend having a trusted garage look at it and give you an estimate on the repair. If it's the radiator is could get pricy, if it's just a line it would be a lot less. Keep me posted on what you find out, and if you have more questions, I'll be right here :)

    • profile image

      Cora 

      4 months ago

      I have a 1995 Ford Explorer discovered fluid from under side on passage side dripping from bottom of radiator. Fluid is light pink. Do not turn on heat or air fluid still drip. What could be the promblem. I am a lady with no males around. I need help in trying to find problem. Thank you.

    • profile image

      Emily 

      4 months ago

      Hello,

      I have a 2000 chevy Silverado 1500 and it has started leaking in the front right side. The liquid seems to be antifreeze but ive been driving it and not losing any. The temp seems okay. I don't know what to do.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      4 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Cathy,

      No concern here, when you use defrost the air conditioner is in operation which means it is removing moisture from the cabin air and draining it under the vehicle. Hope this helps :)

    • profile image

      Cathy 

      4 months ago

      I have a 2011 scion. After the defroster has been on and the car is shut off, there is some drippage under that looks clear. Should I be concerned?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      5 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Louise,

      I recommend checking the brake fluid reservoir, if it low then the leak is most likely the brake master cylinder and will need to be replaced. Let me. know what you find, thanks.

    • profile image

      louise 

      5 months ago

      have an 01 honda civic lx all of a sudden a puddle appeared under the driverside break and gas pedel and has leaked a fluid that is what seems to be a mixture of water and some oily substance. I do not know where it is coming from or how to fix it.. any ideas? like I said drivers side rug is soaked with this substance

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      5 months ago from New Hampshire

      Sorry for the late reply Ruby, did you figure it out?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      5 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Mathew,

      Yes, most likely the AC evaporator is draining onto the exhaust system. Enjoy the warm weather, it's about 20* here today lol.

    • profile image

      Mathew 

      5 months ago

      Hi Eddie,

      I've today noticed a leak from under my car when I stopped in the garage. The fluid is clear and odourless, and seems to me to be water. With every drop there is a sizzling/popping sound coming from the area of the leak. The leak is coming from the middle of the car, about where the footwell would be. Is it likely to just be from the air conditioning system? It's about 90 degrees here today. Thanks for any help.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      6 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Wesley,

      If the vehicle drives normal, you're not losing coolant, and the oil level and condition are ok then I don't think you have an issue. Condensation builds up inside the exhaust system and mixes with soot for the combustion chamber which looks like black water and white steam or smoke will exit the tail pipe all the time but is more visible in cold weather conditions. I recommend driving it while keeping an eye on the temp gauge and fluid levels. Keep me posted on how you make out, thanks.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      6 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Merwyn,

      Most likely it is moisture coming from the exhaust system. Do you know what the fluid looks, smells, and feels like? Can you describe it to me? Thanks.

    • profile image

      Merwyn 

      6 months ago

      Hi,

      I have just recently bought a brand new Kia Sportage, automatic. Barely driven it. However, I have noticed that after I reverse park the car, it leaves a fluid trail on the ground along the path that it was reversed on.

      Since I’m a new driver and this is my first car, it’s got me a little paranoid.

      Would appreciate your insight!

      Thanks.

    • profile image

      Wesley Edens 

      6 months ago

      I've been told by a mechanic that I have a blown head gasket because white looking smoke is coming out of the exhaust pipe but I don't seem to be losing anti-freeze and the engine is not overheating. I think a blown head gasket would cause overheating and a lose of anti-freeze?

      Is this right of wrong? A block test didn't indicate liquid color change.

      Also, oil, transmission fluid or some type of dark liquid drips out of the exhaust.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      6 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Stephanie,

      It could be condensation leaking from a drain hole in the exhaust system. If the fluid is just water, most likely that is the culprit. This is normal, especially in very cold temperatures.

    • profile image

      Stephanie 

      6 months ago

      I have a 2004 chevy Silverado. It is leaking clear fluid from the back of the truck. Somewhere in the middle, right in front of the rear tires. Temperature outside is 5. Any ideas?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      6 months ago from New Hampshire

      Thank you Joy, your feedback is appreciated :)

    • profile image

      joy 

      6 months ago

      Wow!!... Thank you so much for the information, your site has very Good Content

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      7 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Hillary,

      Very low oil would cause this. You will need to put oil in the engine until you see it show on the dipstick. New oil is usually clear or amber in color, so check the dipstick carefully.

    • profile image

      Hillary 

      7 months ago

      I have a 2001 ford Taurus. I bought the car and took it to have the oil changed, I maybe drove it 2 weeks and had to have the transmission replaced. I had the car back maybe 2 or 3 weeks and the oil light came on so I added oil but even after I put oil in it when I check the dip stick it is not showing oil is in it. what would cause this?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      7 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Paola,

      Thank you very much, I really appreciate your feedback :) I know you don't own a car, but if you know anyone who has questions, send them over :)

    • profile image

      Paola 

      7 months ago

      Hi Eddie,

      I don't own a car but this article is so informative! Basically I saw that you were featured on the Hubpages homepage and I thought of dropping by to say well done!

      Paola

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      7 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Anna,

      With the fluid low, an automatic will not move until the leak is fixed.

    • profile image

      Anna 

      7 months ago

      i recently just got into a accident, i was driving a 4WD 2002 chevy 1500 and hit the back end of a ford, i was stopping when it happened so i was going maybe 25-30km/hr there was minor damage to his vehicle (a broken taillight) his vehicle was lifted so when i hit him the corner of his rear bumper hit the middle of my grill. the grill was plastic so it broke in half and i have a dent in the hood. the truck moved fine from where i had hit him to a parking lot, he noticed i was leaking something and advised me to turn the vehicle off. the liquid appears to be transmission fluid. when i went to go move my truck from the parking lot it started fine and everything worked, but wheni went to go drive it it would not go, in drive or reverse. could me transmission be completely broken or will it just not go becuase all of the fluid leaked out.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      7 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Jan,

      No, it should have no effect on your power steering.

    • profile image

      Jan 

      8 months ago

      Hi If I have a slow oil leak would this cause the power steering to go ( not ps oil)

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      8 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Michael,

      I think you have it covered. It's good to have it towed, not sure what will happen if you start driving.

    • profile image

      Michael 

      8 months ago

      I have a 2007 Z4 BMW 3.5 liter coupe. I went out this morning and see a significant oil leak coming from the engine running all the way to the back right wheel ( lowest level I guess on my garage floor) where there is a puddle. I have no dipstick on this car. I’m thinking of just having it towed to a shop for investigation since I can’t tell how much oil is in the engine? Car is very low to the ground so not much is visible without putting it on a lift. I’ thinking about trying to get a low profile floor jack under it to make sure the drain plug and/ or oil filter has not loosened. Any other advice before I have it picked up?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      8 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Jamie,

      If it looked and felt like water, it was probably water. If you have dew on the vehicle in the morning, it can pool in areas of the vehicle and drain below the vehicle without a trace. Keep an eye on it for a few days and let me know if it keep happening.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      8 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Jeanie,

      I recommend bringing it back to the shop that changed your oil just in case they knocked off a connector or something.

    • profile image

      Jamie Jackson 

      8 months ago

      Hello, I have a 2005 Hyundai Santa fe and just notice clear liquid dripping from the car. I touched it and it wasnt greasy or colorful. It felt like water almost. I havent had any problem with it. I have been running the heat but not the air conditioner. I'm new to all of this.

    • profile image

      Jeanie Mcguinness 

      8 months ago

      Hi I have a 2012 FORD EDGE I JUST HAD MY OIL CHANGED AND ALL FLUIDS TOPPED OFF . I NOTICED A LEAKE UNDER MY DRIVERS SIDE TODAY . I CHECKED IT AND ITS JUST WATER . BUT I DIDNT HAVE MY AIR Conditioner ON. AND NOW MY CHECK INGINE LIGHT IS ON . HELP PLEASE

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      8 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Shirley,

      Where is the water leak?

    • profile image

      Shirley 

      8 months ago

      My truck was stored for 10 days and now I see what looks like a water leak but does not dry up. It's leaked like this last year when it sat, so i took it in to have the oil changed and they didn't find any leaks but it happened again.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      9 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Jane,

      I'm not sure whey or what the AC has to do with the heat not working, but the fluid may be water from the condenser (AC)? Is the fluid oily?

    • profile image

      Jane Lambertson 

      9 months ago

      I have a leak under my car, and someone said it looked like a power steering leak, but I checked the reservoir and it is full. The mechanic said when I was in to check on why heater would not hear up, told me the air con had a air pocket and so they blew it out. COULD THIS BE MY PROBLEM..

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      9 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Juan,

      I would not worry, there are a lot of reasons for water dripping. It can come from the AC evaporator even if you're not using the AC. It can also be coming from the exhaust system, a lot of condensation leaks from the exhaust. No worries, I believe this is normal.

    • profile image

      Juan 

      9 months ago

      Hello,

      I have a new 2017 VW Jetta 1.8T. 90% of the times I put the car in reverse and reverse a little I see drops of water leaving a line of water on my driveway or any parking space. It even happens when the AC is off sometimes. I am concerned because it is a new car with only about 1500 miles on it so far and I would like to know if this is normal. I know for a fact it's water because I've touched it and put paper on it to see if it has a different color. I have never seen a car drip water almost every time it gets put in reverse. Thank you for your feedback!

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      9 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Breyana,

      It maybe brake fluid, does your brake pedal feel soft? Does the brake pedal go to the floor when applying the brakes?

    • profile image

      Breyana 

      9 months ago

      Hey I have a 2007 cobalt chevy and while working I noticed there was a small little leaking near the back under the car do you know what it could be and it looked Yellow.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      10 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Gary,

      If there are no leaks from the transmission, most likely the mechanic forgot to top off the trans or didn't fill it enough. One would think if you're replacing the clutch, the mechanic should spend a few more dollars and replace the transmission oil.

    • profile image

      Gary T 

      10 months ago

      I had a clutch replaced last spring, and recently I had an oil change, and the mechanic noticed my gear oil was quite low. Could that have been the result of the clutch work, and failing to top up oil level.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      10 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Emmanuel,

      I'm not sure what the air corn pipes are?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      10 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Lynea,

      Clear water like fluid is not bad, if it thick like oil and is brown or red, that's a problem. I recommend checking the oil level and the coolant level before driving it. The water like fluid may be coming from the AC system even tho it doesn't work well.

    • profile image

      Emmanuel chileshe 

      10 months ago

      I have a Toyota coaster bus.and I'm losing water through the air corn pipes but the temperature is normal

    • profile image

      lynea 

      10 months ago

      hi my 2001 vw beetle manual is leaking fluid with the consistency of water but there's more.the car is shuddering and smells like burning oil from the back also from the back is a loud thud. the ac doesn't work very well and decides when to come on. now that the car has leaked im afraid to turn it back on.

    • profile image

      Jay 

      10 months ago

      Hello, I have an old model Dacia Logan and after driving it for 2 hours on a very hot day, without using the AC, I noticed what looked and smelled like rusty water leaking from the undercarriage! Any ideas? Hopefully just the AC expelling condensation!

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      10 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Alyssa,

      I recommend having the CV boots/axles checked for leaks, that would be the only thing that would leak thick black grease unless someone else parked there while you were gone. Once the vehicle is on the lift, the mechanic can check for any other leaks as well. Let me know what you find, thanks.

    • profile image

      Alyssa 

      11 months ago

      Hello, I have a 2003 Acura TL. I noticed today that I had a few spots on the ground that are VERY thick and black. Thick like tar.. It's my personal spot for my apartments, so it has to be from my car. It smells really strong. I had an oil change about 2 months ago, I'm estimating I've driven about 1,000 miles or so since then. I checked my dipstick.and it was the normal brown color. Any ideas??

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      11 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Nelson,

      No, still sounds like a possible head gasket or internal leak, but the only way to know for sure is to have it looked at by a reputable garage/mechanic.

    • profile image

      Nelson Rosario 

      11 months ago

      Hi Eddie,

      I finally had some time to look at my 08 hyundai Sonata again. I noticed I lost some coolant again but not near as much as before and I started it up at night and upon starting it up, I definitely do see the white smoke and I think I can smell a type of sweet smell from the exhaust pipe also. Is this worse then previously thought?

      Thank you again Eddie

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      11 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Nelson,

      It's possible the leak is internal like a head gasket or intake manifold gasket. I recommend topping off the coolant (there is coolant in the cooling system and not just water, correct?) and keep an eye on the coolant level and a nose out for white sweet smelling smoke from the exhaust pipe. Let me know what you find, thanks.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      11 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Logan,

      You'll need to have the axle seal replaced asap.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      11 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Janet,

      If the white smoke was accompanied by a sweet smell and fogged windows, yes it is possible, but not usually with the AC running.

    • profile image

      Nelson Rosario 

      11 months ago

      Hey thanks for the information in this article, I find it very informative and helpful!!! I have a question that maybe you or someone else reading might be able to answer. So I own an 08 Hyundai Sonata 2.4 4 cylinder engine, and I happen to have what appears to be a leak, what I notice is that the liquid is clear like water, it doesn't seem to have the fishy smell you mentioned if it were brake fluid so thank goodness for that. However I am not and have not been running the a.c. in the vehicle. I should probably mention that it was overheating and so I recently brought it to a mechanic in my area who looked at it, told me I had a bad thermostat, and a damaged radiator hose. Now I'm not a professional obviously but I do get under the hood sometimes to do small easy jobs that I have the tools for like, changing out filters, changing my own oil, brake pads etc. So I'm not too nervous about getting in there to get my hands dirty...But this is what I definitely noticed was different after the mechanic worked on the car, the radiator hoses are definitely bigger than the ones that were on previously.. the car definitely overheated again going slightly about half on the dashboard gage, and even though I notice that my coolant is low(it was full yesterday) I see no signs of a coolant leak, none I can see on the manifold and none on the ground, however there was warm water leaking from the bottom of the car front side I'd say it seems to be coming from near engine area from where it appears to be leaking on the ground. Any ideas? Any idea is welcome and thank you in advance.

    • profile image

      Logan Onda 

      11 months ago

      New tires put on my 2003 Tundra today. Got home and black smelly fluid is leaking near back driver's side tired. Kind of everywhere. Anticipating a gear fluid leak. What do I need to do? Moving to Dallas for my job, on Sunday. Please advise!

    • profile image

      JanetG22211 

      11 months ago

      You need to tell Rhonda to check her heater core. I also have heard an owner of a 2014 Cruze have white smoke come out of the vents, only to have the car catch fire after she had parked it and gone into the house. But it sounds like the heater core to me

    • profile image

      GlendaTolentino 

      11 months ago

      Hello author.this morning I found a water dripping at my passenger side, 2006 fortuner is it the aircon but my car is park thats why I'm wondering what was it....is it dangerous?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      11 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Gabriel,

      Usually, when a vehicle makes a clicking noise on turns and acceleration, it's a sign of a worn CV joint. Now that's all you have to do is figure out which one is making the noise. Let me know if this helps.

    • profile image

      Gabriel O 

      11 months ago

      Hi Eddie,

      I have this rav4 '99 that makes this clicking sound that seems to be coming from the rear bottom when its accelerated in motion & also during cornering... pls what could be the issue cos I have suffered a lot from quack automobile technicians

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      12 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Mandy,

      There's not a lot of fluids over on that side of the engine. I'm thinking that they may have made a mistake when installing the power steering line and or pump. If it was engine oil, they would have noticed where it's leaking from when replacing the timing belt? My question is "how did the timing belt get wet when it's completely enclosed? Something doesn't add up here, you may want to get a second opinion. Keep me posted, thanks.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      12 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Beth,

      The AC runs even when you don't have it on in some situations, and with the weather being as hot and humid as it was, I'm 99% sure it was the AC draining.

    • profile image

      Mandy 

      12 months ago

      Hi, I recently bought a used 2013 Honda pilot from a reputable Chevy dealership in my town. Within the first week I noticed it leaking fluid because it was leaving spots on my concrete driveway.I popped the hood and saw some kind of fluid spattered everywhere just on the far left side where the wiper fluid and power steering fluid reservoirs are. The spatter made it on the underside of the hood and all the way down to the bottom of the car where it was dripping a little. I took it to the dealership and they thought it was the power steering fluid so they replaced the Power steering pump and hose, and replaced the timing belt because it had become warped.This took a few trips to the dealership. They are working with me well,but I would like to know what your opinion is on what this fluid could be and where it could be coming from.It's got an oily-ish feel, no real smell and the color is a light brown to me. The guy at the dealership is a little stumped and has written up as a fluid leak this time instead of a power steering fluid leak because he thinks if it was the power steering fluid, the replacement of the pump and hose would have fixed the problem. But the problem persists. Any ideas? Thanks for your time high any

    • profile image

      Beth 

      12 months ago

      Hi there...noticed a puddle under my car, and drippage following me into my driveway last night. Had car towed to dealer (2015 Pilot), they aren't finding anything wrong (I asked them to doublecheck again). I did not have the AC on last night but the weather here set a record yesterday (VERY hot and humid). Leaving for vacation tomorrow and don't really want to get stranded. Advice?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      12 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Jake,

      Yes, most likely the water from the AC drain is dripping on something and trailing over to the driver's side. if you let your car idle in one spot, does the AC leave a puddle?

    • profile image

      Jacob 

      12 months ago

      Hello I have a Jeep liberty 2008 I have a clear looking liquid dripping under the driver side at first I thought it was the coolant because there isn't much left (I plan on going to the store to fill it up tomorrow) but when I got a paper towel to dab it with it didn't really turn any color I first noticed it when I heard a sizzling noise under it was and occasional drop on to something hot do you think it's from the AC?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      12 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Jessica,

      If you're using the AC, most likely the puddle is caused by the AC. The vent's not working could be an HVAC mode motor issue or cable adjustment.

    • profile image

      Jessica 

      13 months ago

      My cars front vents stopped working the other day but all the other ones work. But now I'm finding big puddles under my car, is it coming from my AC?? And it doesn't look like there is any color to puddles.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      13 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Royal,

      Water drains from an AC evaporator, all other fluids in a vehicle have some kind of color or odor.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      13 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Christina,

      It may be either washer fluid or coolant. Where does the hose lead to?

    • profile image

      Royal Parker 

      13 months ago

      So any fluid that is colorless is coming from the A/c?

    • profile image

      Christina hernandez 

      13 months ago

      My car has a small rubber tube sticking out and is leaking blue fluid what is that

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      13 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Ronda,

      Try using the AC with the recirculation button on because the humidity from outside is causing fog when passing through the AC evaporator, if you recirculate the cabin air you will remove the humidity and have ice cold clear air coming from the vents. Keep me posted on what happens, thanks.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      13 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Shenel,

      Do you know what the color, smell and the texture of the fluid is?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      13 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Sara,

      The check engine light must be on, have you had the code checked yet? There are a lot of things that can cause this problem, knowing the code will give you an idea of what is causing it. Let me know what you find, thanks.

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      13 months ago from New Hampshire

      Maybe your AC is draining when your car sits at that angle?

    • profile image

      Ronda 

      13 months ago

      Hi! I have a 2012 Chevy Cruze LT. Recently, when using the AC or defrost I have a white smoke/vapor coming through my vents. I've also noticed that my windshield fogs up really quickly. This morning for example...it was really humid, rainy and about 75 at 6 a.m. I had the defrost on almost the entire 20 miles to work and there was a white vapor most of that time. When I got to work and shut the car off, there continued to be the white smoke/vapor, the entire car seemed to fill with humidity and when I looked at the windshield from the outside it was foggy and had a rainbow like appearance (I'm assuming some kind of vaporous gas??) I haven't noticed the floor board on the passenger side being wet, but as the driver I have felt a couple of drips of moisture hitting the top of my foot... My car is not overheating or even getting above the normal temperature. I'm just wondering if this is the heater core or if it could possibly be from a hose or clogged drain tube?

    • profile image

      shenel 

      13 months ago

      Hi eddie! My car stopped running about two weeks ago. I check on it from time to time but last night i saw a leak under the right side of the car. Not sure why its doing that because i havent even cut the car on in weeks

    • profile image

      Sara 

      13 months ago

      Hi Eddie! I have a question The fan on my 3005 Atltima has been making a rattling noise for a long time and now I have a ticking noise and my car has cut off on me three times in the past 3 weeks I checked the water and the reservoir was empty but the the radiator was full and so far it hasn't run hot. I did have a problem a while back with a bad leak and had the radiator replaced. And it also seems to not have all the power it used to have while I'm driving.

    • profile image

      2006 Honda Accord v6 

      13 months ago

      I have a leak under the passenger front side just near the tire that only leaks when in my driveway.. not on flat street. Looks like a water puddle but leaves a stain.. no real odor.. Have had power steering already serviced & a new transmission (refurb) put in a couple months back.. =o(

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      13 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Erica,

      Does the fluid have any color or smell? Do you think it could be your air conditioner draining? Is it hot where you are? Have you been using your AC lately?

    • eddiecarrara profile imageAUTHOR

      Eddie Carrara 

      13 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Mary,

      You'll need to take it to a transmission shop or dealer to have it checked.

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