One of the major signs that there might be something wrong with your car is a puddle in your driveway or garage right under where you normally park it. There are a number of things which can leak from your car, of which the two most common are coolant fluid and water.
Identifying Your Leak
The easiest way to identify your leak is by smell and color. If it smells like gasoline, it’s…gasoline. If the puddle is at the back, it’s your tank. But if it’s at the front, it’s your fuel pump. Either way, get a mechanic quickly. Otherwise, look at the color:
- Clear – it’s water. And not a big deal, it’s condensation from the car’s climate control or similar.
- Yellowish – either power steering fluid or brake fluid. As it could be brake fluid, don’t drive your car. Get a tow to the mechanics. Thankfully, it’s rare.
- Light red – automatic transmission fluid. Get it fixed or your transmission may be destroyed, which is hugely expensive.
- Yellowish-brown – engine oil. If this happens right after an oil change (new oil is this color) then take it back to the shop. They may not have secured something properly.
- Dark brown or black – also engine oil.
- Dark red – automatic transmission fluid again. Unless you have been having problems steering, in which case it’s power steering fluid. Some cars use the same stuff for both.
- Blue – windshield washer solvent. Should feel like water.
- Green – coolant fluid or windshield washer solvent. Windshield washer solvent is thin. Coolant is thicker and sticky.
- Orange – coolant fluid or windshield washer solvent.
- Pink – coolant fluid.
Your mechanic may be able to tell you what color some of these things are for your specific car when you have it in for a service.
A coolant leak is one of the most common. It’s not the most serious leak, but you should get it fixed for two main reasons:
- Your engine may overheat, which is a primary cause of ending up parked on the freeway. That’s never a good day.
- It’s extremely toxic to pets, but tastes good to them. There’s a very high risk of your cat or dog licking up spilled coolant and yes, they can die.
So, what should you do if you have a coolant leak? First of all, you have two primary causes that could be behind it. The easiest to fix is a leaky radiator cap. This can sometimes be caused by attempting to DIY a radiator problem and fixing the cap incorrectly or, worse, using the wrong one. Other sources of leaks can be split or broken hoses, a hole in the radiator, a leaking pump, heater core, or freeze plugs. Often you can actually spot the problem visually. The coolant reservoir may also be cracked.
What Should You Do Next?
These are not problems the average person can fix themselves. Your car’s cooling system is important for its health. One thing you can do yourself is top up the coolant reservoir, but this should be an interim measure until you can get your car to a good mechanic in Kansas City like Anders Automotive to get the leak looked at. The solution might be anything from a new radiator cap to a completely new radiator, but anything is better than being that poor person at the side of the road waiting for the tow truck. With newer cars, coolant problems may be covered by your warranty, so it’s always worth checking.
If your car has a coolant leak (or one of the other leaks mentioned), you want to get it fixed by a competent mechanic as soon as possible. Many of these issues will only become worse if they aren’t fixed. If you suspect a coolant leak, then contact Anders Automotive today to make an appointment to get it checked out.