car leaking fluid

What Is Leaking From My Car?

Seeing something leaking from your car is not necessarily cause for panic. There are many different fluids that can leak from a car. Some leaking fluids may be more serious than others. Distinguishing which fluid is leaking, without the assistance of a mechanic, is usually done through the color of the fluid, the consistency of the fluid and/ or the quantity leaked. Below are several common types of fluids that may leak from your car and tips to help identify them.

Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid has a thick, oily texture. It is usually brown in color (when it is old) and red in color (when it is new). It has a strong mechanical odor. A transmission fluid leak will likely manifest in front of the engine, as the transmission is located close to the engine of a car. Typically, transmission fluid will pool on the top of concrete, as opposed to absorbing into it. 

Engine Oil

Engine oil leaks are problematic. As the most common type of leak in cars, engine oil leaks are usually found directly under the engine. Engine oil has a thick, oily consistency and is golden or clear in color when new, and brown or black when old. It has a potent gassy odor. Low engine oil levels can lead to substantial engine damage. 

Windshield Wiper Fluid

Usually windshield wiper fluid has the consistency of water and a non-pungent odor. Windshield wiper fluid can be blue, pink, green, or orange in color. If your car is leaking windshield wiper fluid, it will likely leak under the front, right side of the hood of your car. 

Brake Fluid

Brake fluid usually has a dull, mechanical odor. A brake fluid leak will appear under the brake fluid reservoir, on the inside of the tires. When new, brake fluid will be colorless, and clear, and will draw moisture when touched, so it will leave fingers feeling dry. 


Antifreeze can leak close to the engine in the front of your car and/ or from the exhaust pipe in the rear of your car. Its consistency is slightly thicker than water but thinner than oil. Antifreeze is usually red or green in color. It has a sweet odor, but is highly toxic, so it is best to avoid contact with skin. Leaking antifreeze can indicate a radiator and/ or water pump malfunction and should be addressed immediately. 

Engine Coolant

If engine coolant is leaking, it is best to refrain from driving your vehicle. Engine coolant has the consistency of water, but is slightly sticky. It comes in a variety of colors, such as orange, red, blue, green, and yellow. An engine coolant leak will likely appear under the radiator, in the front of the car. Low engine coolant can result in severe engine damage, which is why it is best to resolve a potential leak as soon as possible.

Power Steering Fluid

Power steering fluid has a similar appearance to transmission fluid. When new, power steering fluid appears clear or red in color and when old it is brown in color. This type of fluid has a dull mechanic odor. Power steering fluid has an oily consistency and is slightly thicker than water. When leaking, power steering fluid likely drips from the area near the engine, in the front, left side of a car.

If at any point you are unsure of the type of fluid that may be leaking from your vehicle and would like to consult a mechanic, do not hesitate. While there are some parts of a car that can be easily adjusted and/ or fixed by the owner, there are many issues that may arise that are best assessed by a professional. 

Further Information

As an automotive parts and supply shop with decades of experience we have access to extensive inventory. Northstar Automotive is staffed with incredibly knowledgeable professionals, dedicated to provide topnotch service to all its customers. Let us help you make sure you are equipped with everything you need to ensure all of your vehicles are in excellent shape. Please feel free to contact one of our sales associates for more information. We can be reached through our website’s ‘contact us’ page at:

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