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

Updated on January 11, 2017
eddiecarrara profile image

33 years in the automotive business, Honda, ASE certified master technician. Willing to spill my guts about everything I have learned.

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

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.

If you found this information useful, please share it, for example by using the Facebook and Twitter buttons at the top of the article.


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    • eddiecarrara profile image
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      Eddie Carrara 3 days 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 9 days 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 image
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      Eddie Carrara 2 weeks ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Emmanuel,

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

    • eddiecarrara profile image
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      Eddie Carrara 2 weeks 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 2 weeks 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 2 weeks 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 4 weeks 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 image
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      Eddie Carrara 4 weeks 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.

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      Alyssa 4 weeks 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 image
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      Eddie Carrara 4 weeks 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 5 weeks 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 image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 5 weeks 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 image
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      Eddie Carrara 5 weeks ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Logan,

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

    • eddiecarrara profile image
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      Eddie Carrara 5 weeks 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 5 weeks 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 6 weeks 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 6 weeks 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 7 weeks 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 image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 7 weeks 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 8 weeks 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 image
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      Eddie Carrara 2 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 image
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      Eddie Carrara 2 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 2 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 2 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 image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 2 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 2 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 image
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      Eddie Carrara 2 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 3 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 image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 3 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 image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 3 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 3 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Christina hernandez 3 months ago

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

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 3 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 image
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      Eddie Carrara 3 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Shenel,

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

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 3 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 image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 3 months ago from New Hampshire

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

    • profile image

      Ronda 3 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 3 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 3 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 3 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 image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 3 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 image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 3 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Mary,

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

    • profile image

      Erica 3 months ago

      Hi I have a 2016 Ford Focus it was brand new with no issues about a week ago I hit a dead deer in the middle of the free I had to run it over I couldn't stop or get over and now it's something clear and watery leaking from my car underneath it doesn't look damaged under there but it ripped the splash guard down a little I pushed it back up

    • profile image

      Mary pratcher 3 months ago

      My transmission fluid is leaking a lil bit on my 2005 chevy equinox dont leak all the time just sometimes thete is noway i can check it

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 4 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi vhernandez276,

      It sounds to me like your car started to overheat and was building pressure in the cooling system, that was the hum noise you heard. The alignment problem is most likely a suspension problem. The wheel is pushed back which means the vehicle hit an object pretty hard and bent the suspension. This will need to be checked out by a mechanic or you can bring it back to who you bought it from and have them fix it. Hope this helps, let me know if I can answer any more of your questions, thanks.

    • profile image

      vhernandez276 4 months ago

      Just bought a beautiful used Nissan Sentra 2011. Everything runs perfect except it swifts to the left when driving. I know the alignment is off because I can fit my whole hand behind the right front tire, but cannot fit it behind the left front tire. Clearly it is an alignment problem. When I try to put my hand behind the left front there is a blackish leak. Another thing that occurred was the signal of an overheat was blinking rapidly and the car began making a strange hum. I turned the heater on and pulled over to the next available stop. The car started sputtering and if I lifted my foot from the accelerator it would come to a complete stop. I am an 18 year old girl and I don't know a thing about cars (clearly) please help.

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 4 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Laura,

      It sounds like it is your air conditioner drain. Newer cars use the AC when the HVAC system is in defrost/defog mode, so you could be using the AC without even knowing it. When you go to see your mechanic, just have your car running for about 25-30 min so it can start dripping. If your mechanic is good, he will be able to tell you what it is quickly and not charge you :) Let me know what they say, thanks.

    • profile image

      Laura 4 months ago

      Hi Eddie,

      Your article was helpful, thank you for writing it. Quick question: my 2011 Toyota Camry SE has a leak on the passenger side. It only leaks after I have driven some time -say 25-30 mins or so. It leaks with and without the air conditioner being on. I think it's water, but I'm not sure. I got up close-no smell or color. I do not live in a generally humid area and haven't used the ac much this year-yet.

      What should I tell my mechanic when I take the car in? What procedure?i don't want to sound like s total fool.

      Thanks again,

      Laura

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 4 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Sandi,

      If your AC is on, it's most likely coming from the evaporator drain under the front passenger's floor. Is it how where you live? Are you using AC?

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      Sandi 4 months ago

      My 2008 silk 350 is dripping clear liquid from under the right side under the door. What could it be?

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 4 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Carol,

      I'm not trying to be a wiseguy, but your mechanic didn't fix it and I recommend bringing it back to them for a second look. Hopefully, they can fix what they missed the first time at no charge. Keep me posted on what you find, thanks.

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      Carol 4 months ago

      I have a leak about 10" in from my right front wheel. What could it be. My mechanic fixed it but still leaking.i have a 2003 Toyota Camry.

    • eddiecarrara profile image
      Author

      Eddie Carrara 4 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Kim,

      Yes, If you live in a hot and humid area, I'm almost certain that it is your AC draining, especially if the liquid evaporated. Let me know if you have more questions, thanks.

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      Kim 4 months ago

      As I drove into my driveway last night and then backed out, I could see a liquid everywhere and since it was dark I thought I had an oil leak. When I went out later to look, I couldn't see anything (so it wasn't oil). Could my air conditioning have been leaking that much water?

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      Eddie Carrara 4 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Branson,

      Usually any coolant leak under the dash is caused by the heater core leaking, and usually, that is not an easy fix. I recommend checking for leaks at the hoses going to the heater core in the engine compartment first, if they look OK, most likely it's the heater core.

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      Branson 4 months ago

      Today I noticed a green fluid leaking from under the dash (passenger side). I am pretty sure its coolant, but what would cause this??

      Is it an easy fix??

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      Eddie Carrara 4 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Jessie,

      If the oil leak is under the passenger's side door, the oil must be trailing on the floor boards or suspension parts because there is nothing that would leak oil in that spot. The evaporator will drain water under the passenger floor on the ground, but no oil, even the brake lines are on the driver's side. I recommend getting under the vehicle with a flashlight and see if you can spot the oil leak.

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      Jessie 4 months ago

      Hi, I just noticed a some drips under my passenger side door (2008 Honda Civic). I wiped the oil off, not really thinking anything about it and the next day they were back! Has to be some kind of oil leak. Have any insight? TIA

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      Eddie Carrara 5 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Honey,

      You'll need to have it checked out on a lift by a mechanic, it's possible you broke a fluid line or some type of reservoir.

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      Eddie Carrara 5 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Noel,

      If the engine is leaking oil that much oil, the leak should be very easy to find once the mechanic puts the car up on the lift. I wish I had a better answer for you but there are a lot of possibilities for this type of leak. Let me know what they find.

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      honey 5 months ago

      I hit a ditch last night and after driving slowly minutes after I hear a slight shaking sound from my engine just to wake up to see the front passenger tire exactly at the fenders all wet .with moisture, also that was the tire that fell into the ditch .please I would appreciate your response.

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      nel 5 months ago

      My 2002 Isuzu trooper is leaking oil as if someone opened up the oil drain even when its not being used what could be the problem haven't did the paper check yet but husband recently added some I checked the level and it was at the need to add more level still leaking and haven't driven it in at least a week

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      Eddie Carrara 5 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Jan,

      What color is your windshield washer fluid?

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      Jan 5 months ago

      Our Toyota hiace is dripping a pale pink.. not oily and not smelling, from just underneath passenger door.. more like where sliding door first opens. Van was parked slightly in level, leaning to left when I noticed it. Temp gauge normal..steering feels normal??

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      Eddie Carrara 5 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Jessie,

      Most likely coolant. I recommend checking the coolant level in the overflow reservoir and then having the leak checked.

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      Jessie 5 months ago

      When I park and pull up out I seen little spots of oil leak green color

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      Eddie Carrara 5 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Liz,

      Brownish red fluid is most likely transmission fluid. I recommend having it checked out ASAP before the fluid level gets too low and the transmission starts to slip. I'm not positive it's transmission fluid, but it's a good idea to have it checked just in case it is. Let me know what you find, thanks.

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      Liz 5 months ago

      Hello,

      I have a cadillac cts 2007 im trying to get some type of idea of what kind of leak im dealing with. It's coming from the middle of the car or around there it's only startes leaking when we cut the car off it does not leak while on. I can see it dripping from under the car the fluid is like a oily/slippery feeling but kinda thin like water. The color is like a light brownish/redish I think I didn't think to smell it so I don't know the smell it's not over heating I don't know what it could be I've been googleing for hours lol.

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      Eddie Carrara 6 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Vanna,

      Do you think this could be coming from the AC drain on the right side of the vehicle under where the passengers feet would rest?

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      Eddie Carrara 6 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Kalim,

      I recommend having someone look at the leak while the car is up on a car lift.

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      vanna Frangos 6 months ago

      I have a golf turbo diesel 2006

      I have noticed odourless clear oily feel leak under the front wheels

      Mechanic checked and food no cause

      ? Any suggestions please?

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      Kalim Ullah 6 months ago

      Hi

      I have Kia picanto 1.1 manual car I just noticed some time drops of oil under the bonet side where i parked my car I m worry about this.. Thanks

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      Eddie Carrara 6 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Stacy,

      What do you mean the heat and AC don"t work now? What is not working?

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      Stacy Griggs 6 months ago

      My 2004 envoy dripped out a lot of water looking fluid last night in my driveway and this morning now my heat and ac does not work

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      Eddie Carrara 6 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Teri,

      It sounds like you may have a minor oil leak. I recommend having it checked on your next oil change or when you have time to stop at a garage.

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      Eddie Carrara 6 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Chaka,

      What color is the fluid?

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      Teri 6 months ago

      I have a 2007 Honda Pilot. Under my car I put a piece of cardboard with white paper taped to it to catch the leak. Under my car is a little tiny drop about every few days. The drop is a little bigger than a pea but less than a penny. It is a dark blackish color with no smell which looks like oil and has no smell to it. My oil and transmission fluid levels are fine. Thank you for any input.

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      chaka 6 months ago

      my son had blow out on the rt front side and he drives a 2003 ford taraus ses and said it was leaking some fluid from it. what can be the problem?

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      Eddie Carrara 6 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Bob,

      Did you check your power steering fluid level? Maybe the steering rack is leaking?

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      Eddie Carrara 6 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Danielle,

      What color is the fluid? Maybe an axle seal or maybe one of the drain bolts are not tight and it's dripping slowly?

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      Bob 6 months ago

      I have a 2003 Isuzu Rodeo and I have a leak on the driver's side underneath the spot is shaped like a square. I replaced oil pan already but this is a new leak and light in color almost like a set spot with no color what can it be

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      Danielle Terrazzano 6 months ago

      I can't find any of the fluids low could it be that I had work done on the car and somehow they spilled oil inside and didn't clean it the puddle under car was huge

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      Eddie Carrara 6 months ago from New Hampshire

      Sounds to me like the battery is not charged and is causing the clicking noise and dash lights to flicker. I recommend replacing the battery first. The pink fluid sounds like transmission fluid. If the leak is really bad, don't drive it, you could get stranded, I recommend having it towed just to be on the safe side. Let me know what happens, thanks.

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      A.Hosley 6 months ago

      We have a 2003 Infiniti QX4 and the car will not start there is just a buzzing sound. We drove it for a split second to see what the leak was under the car which was under the front left side of the car and a fairly large amount of it. My husband said that the steering seemed hard to turn. When he tried to get the car back started the truck dash lights came on but the car had a loud clicking noise when he went to start it. By the 2-3 day the car wouldn't start at all, we just got the buzzing sound. My husband said the fluid that was under the truck was pink, what could be the problem?

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      Eddie Carrara 6 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Ssperales,

      The fuel pump is in the fuel tank and would not leak, also gas is almost clear, not black. You most likely have an oil or transmission fluid leak. I recommend having a mechanic put the car in the air and check out where the leak is coming from. Let me know what you find, thanks.

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      Ssperales 7 months ago

      I have a 2002 Honda accord v4 that hasn't been driven in a week. The last time i drove it, it would stall but not stop at stop lights. Yesterday I moved it and noticed there was a fresh dark black leak on the floor. This has never happened before. The leak is coming from the middle of the car but more towards the 2 front tires. I was told it's most likely the fuel pump. What can I do to fix it

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      Eddie Carrara 7 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Ireneus,

      Yes, I recommend having someone check the engine, it should not overheat. Be sure there is a 50/50 mix of coolant in the system, this will raise the boiling point of the coolant. You may have other issues tho, and you will not know until you have it checked out. Let me know if you have more questions, thanks.

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      Ireneus 7 months ago

      I drove around 120km with A/C on and Recirculation on all the time. my fan was just in low and temp around half.

      after 3 hours driving, I opened the windows then turned off the A/C but i forgot to turn of the Recirculation on. after 5 mins to 10 mins I turned off the Recirculation.

      My wife noticed that the water was leaking from our engine on the right side of the engine. I opened the hood and found that the water was leaking from Engine Coolant reservoir because of water boiling :( around 1 to 2 litters of water leaked from my car.

      my car is ford fiesta 2012 (5years old)

      is this normal or I need somebody to check on my car?

      I just started driving and i dont have any knowledge about engines :(

      Please help me :)

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      Eddie Carrara 7 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Kendra,

      I recommend having the CV boots checked for damage, you may be leaking CV grease because it is very thick, but it is usually green. Keep me posted on what you find, thanks.

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      Kendra 7 months ago

      My 06 Chrysler Pacifica is leaking some kind of oil under the passenger front tire it looks just like vegetable oil just thicker

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      Eddie Carrara 7 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Dolores,

      If the oil is near a wheel or a brake line, it's possible you have brake fluid leaking. What is the Year, Make, and Model of your vehicle? Is it front or rear wheel drive? Or is it 4 wheel drive?

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      Dolores Fassano 7 months ago

      My car has a leak in the back under the trunk. It looks like a light colored oil leak. Any suggestions what it is. Please email what u suggest. dfassano5@gmail.com

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      Eddie Carrara 7 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Vern,

      Is there any way you could take a picture and post it to my other site? Here is a link, http://www.simple-car-answers.com/Car-Leaks.html just post it in the comment box, there is a little camera icon under the comment box. Let me know if this is possible, thanks.

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      Eddie Carrara 7 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi BC,

      The air conditioner is on even in the winter. Every time the defroster is on the AC is running removing moisture brought in from snow on your shoes to wet coats and boots. This water needs to be removed from the vehicle to keep the window clear on the inside, otherwise your vehicle would have frost on the inside of the glass as well as the outside of the glass. Another thing to think about is the snow and ice under the vehicle stuck in areas you cannot see, as the car drives down the road, it doesn't get warm enough to melt because of the windchill, but once the vehicle is parked, the vehicle heats up from the hot exhaust and engine and melts some of this hidden ice and snow. Hope this helps.

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      Bcgreenley@yahoo.com 7 months ago

      My car is new but water is leaking from two spots in the rear of my Cherokee, its wintertime and no air conditioner is involved. Everyone says it's normal but I don't agree, what do you think?? When I say water it's a lot dripping all the time even after turned off.

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      Vern Runyan 7 months ago

      I own a 2001 ford escort. I have a purple substance that is leaking from the rear middle of the vehicle. It's kind of a thick substance but really doesn't have an odor to it. Can you help find out what this fluid leak is? Email is vernrunyan@gmail.com

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      Eddie Carrara 7 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Clemnas,

      There is not much you can do once the head gasket is blown except replace it. An engine should always have antifreeze in the cooling system, not does it only prevent the coolant from freezing but it also raises the boiling point and prevents corrosion.

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      Clemnas 8 months ago

      Hi Eddie,yes it has a sweet smell and drips a brownish oil with black stains in it from the tail pipe. This also makes the engine and the whole car vibrates. I don't use any anti freeze or coolants just water alone.could this be the cause? And pls what do you suggest I do?

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      Eddie Carrara 8 months ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Clemnas,

      If you have thick white smoke coming from the tail pipe, this could be a sign of a blown head gasket. Can you tell me if the smoke has a sweet smell? Are you using antifreeze in the cooling system?

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      clemnas 8 months ago

      Hi Eddie,what about the brownish oil with black stains that drips from the exhaust pipe,what does that mean?I thought it should be water dripping from the tail pipe instead of that oil and the thick white smoke that comes with it? couldn't this be dangerous to my car,i mean the grand Cherokee jeep 2004 model quadra drive v8 with 4.7litre engine? Because this makes the engine vibrate and the whole car does as well. Due to all these,a technician I met told me not to use my AC as this will kill the engine. Your advice please Mr Eddie.thanks