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How to Determine What’s Leaking Based on the Fluid Color

You depend on your vehicle for so much. It gets you to work. It gets you around for errands and to spend time with friends. If you have a family, you rely on your vehicle to get your kids safely to school, daycare, and activities. Our vehicles are an important part of our lives, but we often know so little about them. 

Caring for your vehicle means understanding the warning signs for possible damage. Fluid leakage is one of the most visible signs that something may be wrong with your vehicle. Here is a simple guide to help you determine what it may mean when you see different puddles under your vehicle. 

ColorFluid Type
AmberEngine Oil
BlackEngine Oil
BrownEngine OilBrake Fluid
Light BrownBrake Fluid
RedPower SteeringTransmission
YellowBrake FluidCoolant
ClearBrake FluidWaterGas
BlueWasher Fluid


Engine Oil

Oil leaks are the most common types of leaks. Fresh engine oil is usually a light amber color. The longer it’s been in your vehicle’s engine doing its job, it darkens to brown and eventually black if you haven’t changed your oil in a long time. You can check your engine oil to see if it is low. 

Brake Fluid

Fresh break fluid is usually a clear color. Like engine oil, it darkens over time, becoming yellow and darkening to brown. The fluid is extremely slick to the touch. Leaking brake fluid is a serious safety concern. If you see brake fluid under your vehicle, you should bring your vehicle in immediately. 

Power Steering Fluid

If you lose power steering, you know it. Steering becomes a chore. You may also notice poor performance in power steering when the fluid is low. If you see red fluid under your car, check your power steering fluid level by looking at the reservoir in the engine compartment. If it looks low, check for leaks or bring in the vehicle. 


Red fluid could be transmission fluid as well (as can orange). Transmission fluid will usually be slick to the touch. Your transmission is one of the most important parts of your vehicle and replacing a bad transmission can be costly. If you suspect you’re leaking transmission fluid, you should get your vehicle checked as soon as possible. 

Engine Coolant

Most engine coolants are green, yellow, or pink. They tend to be slimy and have a sweet smell to them. Of all the fluids, it is probably the easiest to identify. If you suspect a leak in the coolant system, check your overflow tank. This will give you an indication of how serious the leak may be. 

Windshield Washer Fluid

Most windshield washer fluid is blue in color, though some brands and varieties may vary. When leakage occurs, it’s usually due to tubes degrading over time. Of all leakages, it is probably the least damaging to your vehicle’s performance. It is still one you should get fixed, however. Wiper fluid helps you keep your windshield free of debris that can build up on the road and obscure your vision. 


Usually, if you find water under your vehicle, it’s just condensation or built up from the rain. Some people will put water in their washer fluid or use it as a 50/50 blend with engine coolant (never use only water for your coolant). If the clear liquid is water, it should have no smell. 


If you see clear fluid leaking and can smell gas – you could have a serious problem. If you suspect a gas leak, do not start your vehicle. Instead, have the vehicle towed in so the leak can be investigated and repaired. 

Have you found a leak under your vehicle? While some are more urgent than others, you should investigate any leak you find. Whether you need repairs, are looking to upgrade your vehicle, or want to take advantage of our Dyno Tuning, contact us today. We’ll help you make the most of your vehicle.  

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