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

Eddie spent 35 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 and 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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

You should see coolant when you look inside the radiator.

You should see coolant when you look inside the radiator.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

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

Answer: 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.

Question: I have a leak that looks like water in the front left (driver side) in my 2010 Jeep. Could it just be from the AC or something more serious?

Answer: If the leak is just water, most likely it is coming from the AC Drain. If the fluid is oily, it most likely will be something else.

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

Answer: 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 :)

Question: I just picked up my car from the dealer after an oil change. Before I left, they said they found an engine oil or fluid leak, but I haven’t seen any spots on my garage floor or the ground. Should I pay the dealer the $120 diagnostic fee for them to look into it?

Answer: It's possible your car may have a fluid leak without it reaching the ground yet. You can either keep an eye on your garage floor or find a mechanic who will clean the fluid leak and add dye to the system that may be leaking.

Question: I have a small amount of oil collecting in my right wheel hub. What could be causing this?

Answer: Maybe an axle seal leaking or brake fluid leak at the caliper?

Question: I have a 2005 Chevrolet Kalos which is leaking out towards the back wheel. Its black and leaves little puddles when I park. It smells fumey. What do you think this might be?

Answer: I think this might be moisture dripping from your exhaust system. If the fluid is watery and evaporates without leaving a residue, this may be just exhausted condensation leaking from a seam or exhaust drain hole.

Question: I have a 2008 Chevrolet Suburban 1500. I think it is leaking transmission fluid, but I am not completely sure. We did a “hot check” following the directions in the book that came with the car. The level was correct on the dipstick. Is there any way to determine what the fluid is or should I just take it into the garage and have it looked at?

Answer: If you think your leaking transmission fluid, the color of the fluid should be red or pink, or you can compare the color to what comes off the dipstick. If you place a piece of cardboard under the vehicle overnight, you should get a good sample of the leaking fluid.

Question: 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?

Answer: 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.

Question: I have a front-wheel drive 2006 Murano with a leak on the passenger side; it's not thick but oily. What could be leaking? It's near the wheel but not on the wheel.

Answer: I recommend checking all of your fluids and see which one is low. If it were brake fluid, your brake pedal would feel soft. I think maybe the power steering may be leaking.

Question: I have a Honda crv2004 and I noticed a dark black drip around the right front tire and around the well. What could it be?

Answer: I recommend having the brake caliper checked for leaks, if that looks ok, check the outer CV boot for any grease leaking.

Question: My 2005 Opel Corsa is pushing out gear oil from the top gearbox nozzle. Do you know why?

Answer: I recommend checking the vent. If the vent is clogged, pressure can build up inside the case and push fluid out.

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

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

Question: I have Suzuki Mehran VXR 2017 Model, purchased seven months ago. It has an engine and oil leak problem. I went to Suzuki Workshop. They replaced the seals. But exactly after five days, I am facing the same problem. What should I do?

Answer: Bring it back to the shop and have them recheck it at no charge, they said they fixed the leak and you still have one, now have them fix it for free, obviously they missed something and didn't spend the time to check their work before returning the car to you.

Question: I have a compressor oil leak coming out of the car's condenser line dripping onto the driveway. What does that mean?

Answer: If you can see freon or AC oil leaking from the condenser, either you have a puncture in the condenser or the o-ring has failed and needs to be replaced.

Question: I have a 2009 Kia Sportage 4X4. I noticed a leak in the back between the two back wheels in the middle. What is that leak?

Answer: Most likely an axle seal or input shaft seal at the differential.

Question: Battery acid?? Is that spot a joke, as it is not mentioned in the article?

Answer: Yes, it was meant to be funny. Battery acid is very corrosive and would actually cause a really bad surfer smell and cause a lot of surface damage. It is uncommon to see batteries leak fluid, usually fumes out the vents of the battery, this is what causes the fuzzy corrosion on the battery terminals.

Question: Our 2004 Crv is leaking engine oil on the passenger side of the vehicle, and we cannot find where it's coming from. Any suggestions?

Answer: Yes, you could try washing down the engine in the affected area, run the engine for a while, and then check again. You could also use a dye tracer in the oil. You may need to buy the kit because it comes with special glasses and a UV flashlight, and it may be the only way to find the leak. The three areas you should pay attention to are the oil pan gasket, crankshaft seal, and the timing chain cover gasket. Both the timing cover and the oil pan gaskets are a liquid sealer.

Question: I have a 05 Porsche Cayenne that is leaking a light nearly transparent oil from my gas tank under the rear end. It doesn't smell and is very thin. I can't identify this oil, what is it?

Answer: Check your brake fluid level, if it's low, check all your brake lines for leaks.

Question: I recently purchased a used 1998 Toyota RAV4, and there is a steering fluid leak. I am not sure precisely from where it is coming from. Before I take it to a mechanic, what is the approximate cost to fix? Are there any other areas that I should be concerned about and have checked given the age of the vehicle? It only has 215,000 Kms, and I really enjoy driving it.

Answer: The leak could be coming from a lot of different sources, so it would be very difficult to give you an estimate. If the steering rack is leaking, then the cost would probably be as followed: $600-$1200, pump $200- $400, line $100- $300.

Question: I have a 98 Mustang V6. It has a fluid leak, but I'm not sure if it's from too much oil, or if it's the transmission leaking. It does seem to hesitate when switching gears; it also has a lag when changing gears. I just got the car two days ago for $900. Did I make a mistake by making this purchase? Also, if it is transmission, is it late to save without spending a fortune?

Answer: I don't think the oil level is causing the hesitation or lag. If there was too much oil in the engine it would be smoking really bad. The transmission fluid level, condition and leak may be your cause. I recommend having a trusted mechanic check out the leak and advise you on what is causing it and what the cost would be to fix it. At the same time, the mechanic can check the transmission fluid level and condition and advise you on that as well. The more you know about your car, the easier it is to figure out if it's worth fixing, even if you just bought it two days ago. Let me know what you find, thanks.

© 2011 Eddie Carrara


Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on July 29, 2020:

Hi Debbra,

Do you know the color of the coolant? Even if its transmission fluid that, wouldn't be the cause of the engine overheating, most likely you have a headgasket issue. You could try using Bars leak but it's only a temperary fix.

Debbra Brown on July 27, 2020:

I have a 2009 XF Jaguar thats been running low on coolant and overheated 2wks ago I was told to replace the radiator cap. I did and it seemed to run fine until Yesterday it overheated. I put more coolant in today and looked underneath to see if it was leaking. There was a small amount of pink fluid under front passenger side. Could that be transmission fluid according to the article?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on July 22, 2020:

Hi Robert,

If what you are seeing is in the water that drips from your AC evaporator, most likely the evaporator is leaking freon. If your AC doesn't get cold in a few days, you'll know for sure that's your problem. Freon sometimes has dye in it to help diagnose leaks in the AC system, and this is what you might be seeing. Let me know what happens in a few days.

robert on July 20, 2020:

i have green oily substance on garage floor where condensation drip is on 2012 taurus there r no green fluids on this car

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on July 06, 2020:

Hi Jennifer,

If the coolant is mixed 50/50 it shouldn't be evaporating. If you're burning coolant you would see heavy white smoke coming from the tailpipe. If the vehicle is leaking coolant you would most likely smell a sweet smell when the engine is hot (sometimes the coolant will burn off before it hits the ground in a leaking situation). I recommend you top it off with a 50/50 mix and keep an eye on it, but keep in mind that the level will rise a fall between hot and cold engine temps. Let me know if this helps.

Jennifer on July 03, 2020:

I recently bought an 04 Land Rover Discovery 2 had an oil change and 50 pt inspection done. Was told my coolant was low, never told of a leak from coolant, only oil gaskets. I topped up the coolant, but it still keeps gradually getting low. I am not sure if it's leaking on the ground, I don't quite see anything. And if it is it's either minimal or evaporating. How can I check what may be going on?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on March 28, 2020:

Hi Charlene,

I know you see the water gathering on the LR floor but check the LF floor carpet with your hand to see if that's wet too, the water may be flowing from front to rear and pooling in the back floor area. Let me know what you find, thanks.

Charlene Birkman on March 27, 2020:

There is a fairly big wet spot on the floor by the inside of my driver side back wheel". It is a 2005 Buick LaSabre. What would be the most likely reason for that?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on March 15, 2020:

Hi Tere,

It is not normal to ever have fluid leaking from your vehicle except water draining from the AC evaporator. I recommend you call the garage back ASAP and have them double-check their work. Let me know what they find, thanks.

Tere on March 14, 2020:

I had the water pump and thermostat changed in my bmw yesterday. I picked car up from shop car had no issues. I got to work this morning and fluid leaking from front left side passenger side. I used a white napkin to soak up some of it and its blue the color of the coolant put in my bmw. Is it normal to have coolant leaking after new water pump and thermostat?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on January 05, 2020:

Hi Bessie,

If this is a rear-wheel-drive vehicle the fluid may be differential fluid. Let me know if it's RWD, thanks.

Bessie M Parr on January 04, 2020:

Curious if you may know, I'm having a big leak from the back drivers side of my car and it looks the color of motor oil and has an oily smell, but its coming from the back so surely not what it is? Any idea?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on January 03, 2020:

Hi Marcia,

I don't think the fluid leaking has anything to do with the accident because there was minimal damage and not enough impact to da any type of damage. Once the car is on the lift and the insurance adjuster is assessing the damage he should have an idea of what is leaking. I'll give you a couple of examples of what could be leaking, moisture from the exhaust, brake fluid, differential fluid if the vehicle is AWD or 4WD, and fuel, but you would most likely smell fuel. Let me know if this helps.

Marcia on December 29, 2019:

My son was in a fender bender and the car's front bumper is damaged but there does not appear to be any damage under the hood of the car. He did notice that after impact there was some kind of liquid coming out onto the pavement from the middle of the car under the rear seats. What liquid could that be? Could an impact at the front of the car do that?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on December 18, 2019:

Hi Karen,

It sounds like your heater core is leaking and is leaking coolant into the vehicle. Are the vehicle windows fogging up on the inside? Is the engine temp normal?

Karen on December 16, 2019:

I have a 2006 Jeep Liberty and it has been leaking oily fluid on the inside of the passengers side, but it now seems to be running over to the drivers side.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on December 08, 2019:

Thanks for the feedback Rahmed :)

rahmed on December 08, 2019:

Very informative article.

Every driver should known.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on December 06, 2019:

Hi Marie,

I like Ray already lol. He took the time to add dye and do a thorough inspection :) I'm not sure what fluid drips black and then turns white so maybe the drips came from another vehicle? I'm confident Ray would have told you if he found something wrong so I would worry about the drips and keep an eye on the driveway for any new spots. Thanks for the update and make sure you bring your car to Ray when you need maintenance :)

Marie on December 03, 2019:

Hi Eddie,

I wanted to give you an update. I took my car into a repair shop that does brakes they looked at it and said it wasn’t the differential. They thought it was either the timing cover leak or front seal, which they didn’t do. I researched and found a great repair shop. The mechanic, Ray, said my radiator cap was failing and it was leaking and running back under the car. He also put some dye in my oil to make sure that wasn’t leaking.

Today he put a new cap on and got under the car to check the results of the dye test, no leaks other then the coolant.

P.S. the black spots on my driveway are now white.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on November 27, 2019:

Hi Brandie,

I'm not sure where the windshield washer fluid tank is located on that vehicle but sometimes they are located in the lower half of the front bumper in front of a tire so I recommend you check the windshield washer fluid tank fluid level and add if it's low, if you see fluid pour out when you pour it in you'll know what's leaking. Keep me posted on what you find, thanks.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on November 27, 2019:

OK Marie, sounds good :)

Marie on November 26, 2019:

Hi Eddie, thank you for responding. The fluid is thick black but didn’t really smell. I will let you know.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on November 26, 2019:

Hi Marie,

The only black fluid back there would be differential fluid and that fluid is thick, black/gray/green, and has a very pungent smell. I recommend you have someone inspect the vehicle for fluid leaks so you don't ruin the differential if that is the leak. Let me know what you find, thanks :)

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on November 26, 2019:

Hi Justin,

Honda doesn't use pink fluid in their vehicles so unless you are using Rain-X in your windshield washer tank I'm not sure what it could be. I recommend you check the coolant and washer fluid color, those would be the only two fluids that would be colored pink.

Brandie on November 26, 2019:

Hi, I was teaching my son how to drive, when he ran over a curb with the front passenger tire. I have a 2009 PT Cruiser. It is now leaking a clear liquid from the front passenger side. The liquid seems to be slightly oily, and oder less. Any thoughts on what it could be? I am desperately hoping that it won't be a $400+ repair when I am able to take it in.

Justin on November 25, 2019:

Ive noticed pink liquid drinking in front down on my plastic cover guy i had look sayss he doesnt see a leak its on a 2007 honda pilot

Marie on November 24, 2019:

I have a 2015 Chevy traverse. A few days ago I noticed black fluid leaking under my car. It is leaking in a strange place. The leak is on the passenger side under where the 2nd row is. Almost looks to be about where the battery compartment is. I have searched but can’t find what it could be. The fluid is black. Does anyone know what would or could be leaking from there.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on November 21, 2019:

Hi Jordan,

It sounds to me like you have coolant mixed with oil. Where is it leaking from?

JordanHdez on November 18, 2019:

hi, my truck is leaking white oil, looks like evaporated milk

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on October 29, 2019:

Hi Tom,

Most likely it's just the drain from the AC evaporator. The AC will run when you use the defrost mode so most likely it's just condensation draining. If there is no smell and it feels like water I recommend you just keep an eye on it or crawl under the car with a flashlight to verify where the leak is dripping from. Let me know what you find, thanks.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on October 29, 2019:

Hi Elaine,

What water bottle are we talking about, the windshield washer fluid tank or the overflow tank for the radiator? You don't see any leaks? How long does it take to empty out completely?

Elaine Mahlakwane on October 28, 2019:

Hi Eddie

My car is not leaking but the water from the water bottle gets finished, we have changed the water bottle and we can see and leakages, what could be the problem... Please help this is stressing me now.

kind regards, Elaine

Tom on October 24, 2019:

My Taurus seems to have a fluid leak under the center of the car. Fluid is clear and not slippery nor does it have a smell. It seems to only leak after it first starts up in the morning then stops almost immediately and doesn't leak at night or for the rest of the day. What could it be?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on October 23, 2019:

Hi Pilar,

If it feels oily it could be brake fluid so check the brake fluid reservoir level, if it feels more like water, maybe it's water draining for your AC?

Pilar on October 22, 2019:

My VW is leaking clear oil underneath the driver side it looks like cooking oil .!!??

I’m concerned.!!!!!

Please help!!

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on October 15, 2019:

You're welcome Samsheer, let me know if I can answer any questions for you :)

Samsheer Alam on October 11, 2019:

Nice, Thanks for this article

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on September 17, 2019:

Hi Joan,

Is the HVAC system ever in the windshield (defrost) mode because the AC will automatically turn on in this mode?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on September 17, 2019:

Hi Emma,

You're welcome. Let me know if you have any questions :)

Emma on September 11, 2019:

Wow this is so helpful! Thanks for your time in writing this!

joan on September 11, 2019:

I have a 2002 Liberty. It has not been run in a few days because the starter went and is getting fixed in a day or two. It is leaking a clear oily liquid from center of engine compartment. It's warm here but the a/c has not been on?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on September 09, 2019:

Hi RJ,

Most likely it's the air conditioner draining on the ground under the passenger's floor.

RJ on September 06, 2019:

I have a colourless leak on the front right side of a 2011 Cadillac. What could it be?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on August 21, 2019:

Hi Tiffany,

Have you used your AC lately? Have you ever seen this before? is it hot and humid where you live?

Tiffany on August 15, 2019:

Hi there, I have a 2001 Chevrolet tracker. I noticed this morning after I got to work, so water under my car. I felt it & it is clear, not really a smell to it but it has a silky feeling, what could that possible be? thanks!! :)

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on August 01, 2019:

Hi Kim,

If you’re using the AC a lot right now and the weather is hot and humid I’m pretty sure it’s just condensation draining from the AC system.

Kim on July 31, 2019:

I have a 2018 Toyota Camry it is leaking water from under the passenger side. I did notice it coming from the hose that you mentioned. They are not small puddles. Do you think it is just Condensation or should I take in

Anna on July 15, 2019:

My car leaks something on my foot when in tight turns

Christine on July 12, 2019:

Hi, I have a water leak under the left side of the motor. It is makes quite a puddle. At first I thought it was a leak in the windscreen wiper bottle, but it persists. The car is running well and the radiator doesn't seem to be losing much. Any clues?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on July 11, 2019:

Hi Kate,

What is the year, make, and model, does it have a sunroof, do you have roof rails?

Kate on July 11, 2019:


I've got rain leaking into my car through the back passenger clothes hook. I've checked the outside and can't find where it might be coming from. Any ideas?

Gail on June 25, 2019:

What makes my 1999 cavalier just all the sudden lose all my coolant. Its not over heating. I have to keep filling it up with water because its getting expensive to keep buying coolant to just see it pour out after I park....

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on June 17, 2019:

Hi Ryan,

Sounds about right, you can email me, there should be a link by my profile picture at the top of this page.

Ryan on June 14, 2019:

Do you have an email I can send a short video to. I kinda looks like it came from the cv boot and sprayed around the underside do to the rotation

Ryan on June 14, 2019:

I have a 2016 ram 1500 4x4 I just noticed a leak from the front passenger side behind the wheel. I touched and it felt kind of like transmission fluid but when I put a piece of white paper down it was brown like oil is. Any ideas as to what may be wrong? I read some of the posts on here and I’m just gonna run outside to check the cv boot for a tear or crack

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on May 28, 2019:

Hi Terry,

Do you live in an area that uses salt on the roads in the winter? That may be the cause combined with the water.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on May 28, 2019:

Hi Graz,

I recommend you have the CV joint boot check for damage and leakage, if it looks ok, check your brake fluid level, if it low, you could have a leak in the brake system. Keep me posted on what you find, thanks.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on May 28, 2019:

Hi Cathy,

I recommend you check the consistency first, if it feels like water, it probably is water, if it feels oily, it could be brake fluid, if it's greasy, it could be differential fluid. Let me know how it feels and if I can answer any questions you have :)

Cathy C on May 27, 2019:

My sons 2004 Toyota 4Runner is leaking something near left rear wheel. What would that be?

graz on May 25, 2019:

i have a 2009 wolswagen tiguan.

front passenger tyre its oily from inside.

whats can be happen ?

thank you

Terry on May 24, 2019:

Cement on garage foor is pitting where water from air conditioner is leaking from the overflow. Could it be something else? It is not oily and has no colour to it.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on May 07, 2019:

Hi Kari,

Pink is usually transmission fluid or coolant depending on the color of the coolant in the radiator. Check to see the coolant color as well, if it not pink, most likely its transmission fluid. Let me know if you have more questions, thanks.

Kari on May 06, 2019:

Great article! Quick question for you:

I have a 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan. It was leaking pink fluid on the front passenger side. I took it to be repaired two weeks ago. They claimed to have fixed the leak, but it was still leaking. I took it back last week and they corrected their mistake. Now it is leaking the same color fluid on the front driver side. Is it a transmission leak still?! TIA for any help!!!

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on April 22, 2019:

Thank you Brighton Tech :)

brighton tech on April 21, 2019:

nice post

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on April 21, 2019:

Hi Mindy,

The vehicle needs to drain water and a common place for the drains are located are near the front doors behind the front tires and rear quarter panels behind the rear tires, so you may be seeing water, especially if the is no smell or texture.

Mindy on April 16, 2019:

My 2004 trailblazer has a leak I see it coming from a hose under the driver side door no smell or color could it be water

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on April 15, 2019:

It's possible you damaged the windshield washer fluid reservoir tank, it's usually located behind the front bumper near the wheel.

Maydaymayday on April 15, 2019:

Today I decided to run over a curb in my 2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0. Minimal frame work damage, a flat, and liquid leaking under the driver’s wheel I believe. I tried the color test, but it leaked so quickly, it was out of liquid before I saw this helpful site. I dabbed a piece of paper on the remaining wet spots, which appeared to be prehaps water. Any advice you can provide is truly appreciated.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on March 21, 2019:

Hi Sharon,

Sometimes oil will splash on the undercarriage during the oil change and if the mechanic doesn't clean it up completely it can drip small spots for a couple of days. I recommend either take it back for them to double check their work or keep an eye on the drip for two days, if it's still dripping, take it back ASAP.

sharon george on March 21, 2019:

I just had a oil change and its never leaked anything till I got home and there was a small leak on pavement, is this common?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on March 18, 2019:

Hi Tyler,

I recommend you keep an eye on the drip, it could be just water or snow melting.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on March 18, 2019:

Hi Paula,

It means you have a leak, lol. I need more info, year, make, model, engine size, etc... It's most likely a hose, but could be a gasket.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on March 18, 2019:

Hi Dolores,

With an engine that age it's very possible the piston rings are not doing their job well anymore and gas is leaking by them and filling up the crankcase. Is the oil level overfull? If so, by how much?

Dolores on March 17, 2019:

I have a 1986 305 5.0 T P I which I just discovered after changing the oil that a lot of gas was in my crankcase. How could there be gas in my oil and a lot of it.

Paula on March 17, 2019:

What does it mean when you ut antifreeze in and it comes back out under the car on the drivers side by the oil pan.

Tyler on March 16, 2019:

Hi. I Just parked my 2007 ford ranger in a garage and noticed a drip coming from under my radiator. It's -10 Celsius outside and the garage is heated, not sure if that's a factor. The fluid is clear. I dipped a tissue in it to make sure and there was no colour on the tissue. Not sure what is leaking. Any help would be appreciated. thanks

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on March 12, 2019:

Hi Lydia,

Clean brake fluid is clear, I recommend you check the brake fluid reservoir level, you may have a brake line or wheel cylinder leaking inside the drum?

Lydia on March 06, 2019:

I have a 99 Ram and there is a leak in the back near the right rear tire, and that smells like when a vacuum cleaner belt is burning out. Does that make sense? I have yet to find anything on leaking fluid from a vehicle's with that smell. The fluid is clear. I was told that it could be an oil leak, but as far as I know I didn't think that oil leaks could be clear. Thanks so much for the help if you can.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on February 03, 2019:

Hi Moshe,

There are a lot of possibilities like the oil filter, an oil line, engine gasket, drain bolt, etc... I recommend you have it checked ASAP, and if it's leaking a lot, have it towed, you wouldn't want to run out of oil and destroy the engine.

MosheM on February 03, 2019:

Eddie hi,

I have a Peugeot 508 2015. A few days ago I started seeing an oil stain on the ground in the middle of the front part of the car. Today I moved it and it starting dripping much faster and the pool underneath is brown and muddy with a regular oil smell. What could it be?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on January 16, 2019:

Sorry, Lynn for the late reply,

almost every fluid would leak more with the engine running. You can send me pics through my profile page, just click on my picture but I'm sure you're all set by now.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on January 16, 2019:

Hi Mike,

I assume you meant it wouldn't go into gear? No, a leaking differential seal won't pervent it from going into gear but it would leave residue all over the back of the car. A transmission fluid leak would leave you stranded.

Mike on January 15, 2019:

I have 2016 Ford Fusion and yesterday it drove fine get in it yesterday evening and notice it would go into gear would the rear differential seal cause it to do that and leave residue all over back of car

Lynn Thomas on January 13, 2019:

What ever is leaking it just started and only leaks when car is running, I think its oil?? what would drip from front end only when running I took pics of my driveway but don't know how to post...not low on oil ....will have it towed in morning but just asking

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on January 02, 2019:

Hi Taylor,

Do you live in a warm humid climate? Were you using your air conditioner lately?

Taylor on January 02, 2019:

I have an 2006 jeep and I came outside this morning to a huge pile of liquid underneath the very front and middle of my car. It seems to be an oily texture that is clear. Im hoping it is water but I am not quite sure.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on December 27, 2018:

Hi Angel,

So I'm thinking the intake manifold gasket is the culprit and the only way to stop the leaking coolant is to replace the gasket. That will be a few hours labor, around $200-$400 parts and labor.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on December 27, 2018:

Hi Florence,

You're welcome, thank you for the kind feedback :)

Florence on December 27, 2018:

Thank you for being so helpful

Angel on December 21, 2018:

Hello, I have a 2004 Chevy tahoe that is leaking thin, clear liquid from the front passenger side. This leak has caused my car to run a bit lean, and has drained my coolant completely. I went to get diagnostics done and it appears a 'recommended" change is for the Intake Manifold Gasket but it was not necessary to change rite of way. Nonetheless, the tahoe started leaking clear fluid until i had no coolant. Since then i have added coolant, stopped driving, qnd coolant level stayed the same.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on December 17, 2018:

Hi Miriam,

If it dries like water and doesn't leave an oil spot, most likely it the water from the air conditioning system.

Miriam on December 15, 2018:

Hi! I have 2003 Chevy Tahoe. Sometimes I see leaking fluid from my SUV it feels like oil , clear but yet it dries like water.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on December 12, 2018:

Hi Hundean,

If the leak persist after a few days, I recommend you bring it back to be inspected for a defective oil filter or loose drain plug, otherwise if the leak is gone, it may have been some residual oil that wasn't wiped after the oil change.

Hundean on December 06, 2018:

Hi Eddie,

I have a 2012 Toyota Vitz and have noticed a slight leak when parked. I did an all change yesterday.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on December 03, 2018:

Hi Alex,

Check the color of your coolant, it may be purple and the reddish brown fluid may be transmission fluid.

Alex on November 29, 2018:

I have a 09 Mitsubishi Lancer and I recently found a puddle of purple fluid by the front driver side tire. Also, another puddle of a brownish reddish fluid in front of that same tire. I’ve been trying to look it up myself but I can’t narrow it down to one thing. Could you help?

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on November 26, 2018:

Hi Brenda,

It sounds to me like you have a temperature sensor starting to fail or it is not operating properly. I recommend getting it checked out soon or it may drain down your battery if it stays on too long with the engine off.

Eddie Carrara (author) from New Hampshire on November 26, 2018:

Hi Bill,

If you have a clear liquid leaking from a black hose under the passengers side of your vehicle, most likely you have water dripping from the AC evaporator drain, which is normal.

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