Vehicle leaks and drips could be dangerous

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Antifreeze under your car is a dangerous problem. Image: Flickr / nickharris1 / CC-BY-SA

Old or new, vehicles are bound to leak at some point during their lifetime. Being able to identify vehicle leaks can help you save money and time.

Identifying liquid drops

The drops and drips that show up under your vehicle can indicate what might be wrong with your car. Try to park your vehicle on a flat, level surface at least every once in a while in order to check what ends up under your vehicle. If a drip does show up, take note of the color, smell, consistency and size of the drop. Sop up a part of the drop with a paper towel if you are not sure what color the fluid is.

Automatic Transmission Fluid

A deep, dark red fluid that sits on top of concrete or cement and soaks in very slowly is likely Dextron type automatic transmission fluid. A green, shimmery fluid that soaks into the driveway slowly is also an automatic transmission fluid, which is sometimes used in manual transmission cars as well. It is important to have an ATF leak checked out as soon as possible, because low fluid can make shifting very difficult and grind gears.

[Houston TX BMW has vehicles that do not drip, drop, or leak any fluid.]

Power steering fluid

A thin, watery, slightly yellow liquid that seeps into the gravel or driveway quickly is usually power steering fluid. This fluid leak should be fixed as soon as possible.

Brake fluid

Brake fluid and power steering fluid are very similar in color, consistency and smell. Brake fluid is slightly thicker than power steering fluid, but this leak means you should go to a mechanic immediately.

Windshield washer fluid

Thin, watery blue fluid that has a slightly sweet smell is generally windshield washer fluid. This fluid is easily replaced, but it is also very important for safety. If your vehicle is slowly leaking this fluid, it is worth simply replacing as you go. A fast or heavy leak, however, may indicate the need for a full replacement of the reservoir.

Antifreeze leaks

Light pink or thin, light green leaks that smell very sweet are likely antifreeze. Antifreeze is a relatively common leak, but a very dangerous one. Even a very small leak of antifreeze is dangerous to pets, wildlife and water supplies.

Oil leaks

Oil is the most common dangerous vehicle fluid leak. A lack of oil can damage just about every part of the engine. Used oil dripping can also do damage to the environment, so you should have it checked out. Until you can get the oil leak checked out, park the car over cardboard or a thick layer of newspaper that has been secured down to absorb the leak.

A lack of water

There is one time when your vehicle should be leaking: when you are running an air conditioning unit. Air conditioners use a compressor to cool the air and create condensation on the outside of the unit. That condensation collects on the unit and drips. If you are running the air conditioner and do not see water under your vehicle, then your air conditioner could be on the fritz.However, fixing that is up to you. Air conditioners provide comfort only and do not have an integral part to play in the safety of a vehicle.


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