This most likely has happened to all of us… You hop in your vehicle, pull out of the parking space & when you stare ahead, you see a puddle where your car or truck was parked. This is never a good feeling! But what could it be?
Fortunately, some automotive fluids are dyed different colors to make it a little easier for them to be narrowed down.
For example, are you seeing a clear fluid that looks similar to water? Were you running your air conditioner recently? Chances are that’s just condensation from the A/C system, which drips out through a rubber tube. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal.
Or for years, antifreeze was often dyed a bright green to make it easy to identify. However today, other antifreeze formulations are often dyed pink or orange. If you’re still confused & not sure what you’re seeing, antifreeze has a sweet-ish, unmistakable smell due to the ethylene glycol content, so if you can smell that familiar smell, it could be your antifreeze is leaking.
Gasoline is a light yellow or even orange color & also has a very distinct smell. Gasoline evaporates quickly and may feel cool on your finger if you happen to dip your hand into the puddle. Don’t forget, it can be very flammable.
Motor Oil is honey-colored but can be sometimes darker, depending on the age of the oil. It can also be very slippery when rubbed between thumb and forefinger. Transmission fluid is very similar, but it’s dyed a magenta color & may have a sweet smell – just not as sweet as antifreeze.
Another easy one to decipher is power steering fluid! Power steering fluid is clear & is more slippery than motor oil. And in the same slippery category, brake fluid is also slippery & can exhibit a hazy, yellowish color.
So you’re seeing one of those fluids in your driveway or parking space, what do you do? One option is to slide some cardboard under the engine and between the front wheels when you park it in the evening to keep a better eye on it & see if you can identify it. Or, what we always recommend is just bring it in to our shop to help you decipher the link and get it fixed for you. Don’t let a leak go for too long because we never want it to be an expensive repair. We’d rather you get to us quickly & out of the shop even more quickly.