The average adult human body is made of 60% water. Not only do our cells need water to live, it’s vital for tissue and organs like the heart, liver and brain to function properly. That’s why most people can’t go without water for more than three to four days.
Similarly, your car also has a variety of crucial fluids. These fluids keep it running properly and should be checked regularly to ensure they’re at the proper levels. Otherwise, your car will fail like a human body without water over time.
So what happens if your car is leaking fluid? The color can actually be a good indicator of what’s causing the leak. You can learn what to do for each of the most common colors of fluids leaking from your car — from standard colors like black and brown to more bizarre colors like pink or neon green.
Yellow Fluid Leaking From Your Car
Typically, you’ll find yellow fluid leaking from the front of your car or leaking from the car engine. (Or, you could see yellow snow beneath your car during one of our notorious Ohio winters and think it’s something else.) The possible cause for this could be your radiator — specifically, radiator coolant. You could be using the wrong type of coolant; or, you could have a damaged o-ring or clamp. You might also need to flush your radiator. Either way, you should probably get your air-conditioning (A/C) system checked out with a diagnostics test.
Clear Fluid Leaking From Your Car
Many Clevelanders see a clear, odorless fluid that looks like water leaking from their cars. Not to worry; it’s usually not a problem! Why? Your air-conditioning system creates condensation, which can appear to be a leak, but it’s usually nothing to worry about. If you still want to get it checked out, ask for diagnostics on your A/C system.
Green Fluid Leaking From Your Car
No, an injured little alien isn’t stuck in your car somewhere. If a green fluid is leaking from your car, antifreeze is usually the culprit. Either you’re using the wrong kind or one of your car components, like a hose or clamp, is wearing out or not attached properly. On occasion, though, there can be green fluid leaking from your car that isn’t antifreeze. Those issues are best solved by bringing in your car for some diagnostics.
Red Fluid Leaking From Your Car
Whether you notice red fluid leaking from your car after an accident or randomly one day in the driveway, this is usually a sign that your car is leaking transmission fluid. This fluid is necessary to keep your transmission lubricated properly and to keep everything running smoothly. For more information on the natures of transmission fluid, read our topic on how to know when to change transmission fluid.
There could also be an issue with your power steering. Whatever the case, you’re going to want to take it in to a Cleveland-area auto repair shop to make sure your transmission cooler return line is sealed properly.
Pink Fluid Leaking From Your Car
Pink. It’s a cute color, right? Not when it comes to fluid leaking from your car. Similar to red fluid, this is a good indicator that you have a transmission system or power steering system issue. Again, there could be a leak in the return line or a hole in the transmission seal. Your best bet is to get it checked out.
Orange Fluid Leaking From Your Car
We all like the color orange, right? After all, it’s one of the main colors of the Cleveland Browns. It’s not so good when it comes to car fluid, however. While many people think the culprit is brake fluid, it actually tends to be the transmission system or antifreeze. The former can look orange if it’s old; the latter happens when there is rust in your radiator. It’s likely time for some routine maintenance to get it changed or diagnosed.
Purple Fluid Leaking From Your Car
Not very common, leaking purple fluid from your car indicates you should check your antifreeze. Or it could be something as simple as windshield wiper fluid that got discolored somehow. Make sure you’re using the right antifreeze and keep an eye on it. Taking it in somewhere never hurts, either.
Brown Fluid Leaking From Your Car
Brown (or light brown, really) liquid leaking from your car can be a sign of an oil leak. Does the fluid have a bad smell with it, like rotten eggs or sulfur? It could be gear lubricant if that’s the case. Or it could be motor oil if it’s burning. You definitely want to schedule leak diagnostics if you think it could be engine oil or gear oil.
Black Fluid Leaking From Your Car
Often appearing black (but really dark brown), this type of fluid could be a sign of a serious brake fluid issue. Or it could be motor oil that has really aged and darkened over time. It’d be a good idea to bring it in to be safe, especially if it’s brake fluid. In fact, it's best to get an entire brake system evaluation.
Neon Green Fluid Leaking From Your Car
Now for the most bizarre color: neon green. Does this mean you’re about to develop superhuman powers? Unfortunately, no. It’s likely something similar to what you’ll find with yellow or green fluid. Think antifreeze or coolants. The good news is, neon green fluid leaks are easy to spot. If you have a new vehicle, you should especially get this checked out, however, as newer cars should be recycling coolants.
There you have it! Be sure to bookmark this post, as it can serve as your car fluid color chart if you ever notice any leaks again in the future. And if you need to get a fluid leak checked out, be sure to bring your car to one of our six Cleveland-area auto repair shops for a free estimate and inquire about our car fluid top-off services.