Safety: Fluid leaks from under the car
Posted Thursday, March 7 2013 at 02:00
Look at any public parking spot and you most definitely shall find spots of fluids, in all shades. While some may not be cause for alarm, others, however, have to be taken care of immediately. When you start seeing random fluid mysteriously appearing on your garage floor or fresh fluid when taking off from a parking spot it is time to start looking for car leaks. There are a number of different fluids which can be seeping out, and they can come from a wide variety of locations. However, there are a few problem areas and weak spots which are a good place to start looking. Sometimes it can be hard to track down the source of a leak, especially if the engine is dirty, as most are. Always check around and most importantly, above the area where you see fluid deposits, as the liquid may have leaked from a different area, but pooled in a more visible location. Here is some good places to start looking, and a guide on what the liquid might be.
Sump oil-Engine oil may be leaking out of the drain plug hole if the plug was incorrectly fitted or the gasket has failed. Or it can be leaking from the sump gasket itself. Both of these leaks are very low down on the engine so will often not leave oil pooling anywhere on the engine just the floor. To check this location you will have to get under the car and have a look around say at a fuel station. Taking a small flashlight under there will be helpful.
Oil from the filter-Sometimes oil can be leaking from the oil filter if it has been incorrectly fitted or has become loose over time. The gasket may also have been damaged during installation. If this is the source of the leak it is usually very easy to fix. To check this area, locate the oil filter and look closely around the point at which it screws into the engine block. If possible, wipe a clean cloth around the base of the filter and look for fresh oil runs or deposits.
If you have oil leaks, monitor the oil level closely until the source of the oil leak can be found and repairs made. Running an engine low on oil can be a disastrously expensive mistake.
Gearbox oil-While engine oil is usually the culprit of oily spots, it can also be gearbox oil. If gearbox oil is the offending liquid, it
usually finds its way out through failed seals at the ends of the driveshafts.
Basically look around the area where the drive shaft enters the gearbox and check for runs from this point. Also check the underneath of the transmission/gearbox to see if any other gaskets may have failed.
Coolant-Coolant leaks are generally relatively easy to identify due to the distinctive colour almost always either red or green and the watery consistency of the liquid. Leaking coolant often leaves white, powdery crystalline deposits in the area, or areas, it is leaking from. Weak spots in the cooling system which are a good place to start the leak hunt are around the water pump, the hoses entering and exiting the radiator, around the thermostat housing, and the radiator itself.
Brake fluid-Brake fluid on a dirty car can look very similar to leaking engine oil. The key difference is the areas in which the leaks will be found. Any leak found near the wheel will almost certainly be brake fluid. Check the hoses entering the brake calipers and brake master cylinder.
Power steering fluid-Power steering fluid is a hydraulic fluid which may leak out of the pipe connections on the steering rack. It can leak from other areas, but this is a good place to start looking.
Fuel leak-Fuel leaks are perhaps the most dangerous type of car leak. Fuel leaks generally make themselves known due to the strong and distinctive odour. Fuel leaks, especially in the engine bay can lead to a fire resulting in loss of the car. If a fuel leak is expected, do not drive the car, have it fixed professionally.
Water-Yes plain water could also leak from under your car. This is usually from the air conditioning system and it is no cause for alarm.
Any car leak can turn into an expensive repair if it is not repaired quickly. The liquids in a car’s engine are essential to its operation. Low levels of oil or coolant can lead to overheating and seizing of the engine usually meaning a whole new engine is needed.
Cars with high mileage often have minor oil leaks, and can go years without any real problems. If you find an oil leak, it is a good idea to have it checked out by somebody who knows what they are looking at.