Most car owners at one point or another have noticed a leak under their car because it leaves a puddle on the driveway. Is this a cause for concern? This is a question people ask us all the time. Our answer? It depends. A car leak on your driveway can mean many things. It may be insignificant or it could mean that your car is in severe need of maintenance.
The Implications of a Car Leak on Your Driveway
As a car ages, its gasket, seals, and hoses tend to shrink, allowing small amounts of fluid to escape. This is normal, and a slow and steady drip is no cause for alarm. You should, however, continue to monitor the situation, because a leak can be an early warning of a more serious problem to come.
In any case, you should also closely examine the fluid to determine what it is. Modern cars have multiple types of fluids, and it’s important to identify the specific fluid. To get a good look at the liquid, set a sheet of tin foil below the car to catch the fluid. Some people use newspaper or flattened cardboard. We recommend tin foil because it doesn’t absorb the oil, thus helping you get a better look.
Fluid Identification Guide
- Clear shiny liquid — This is most likely water. If you just used the AC, then this is likely water that condensed on the AC system’s surface and dripped to the floor. Nothing to worry about.
- Slimy, bright color — This is coolant. Newer cars have a system that collects and recycles dripping coolant, so there shouldn’t ever be a coolant leak. If there is, then there may be a cracked water pump or hose.
- Brown, black, or amber color — This is engine oil. If it’s producing a huge puddle, have the car looked at.
- Light brown color — This is transmission fluid. Again, noting to worry about unless it’s creating a huge puddle
Complete Car Leak Inspection and Maintenance
Serving motorists of Seattle and the greater area