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Car fluid color chart: A car is a complex piece of machinery that uses many fluids to function properly. While any of these fluids can leak from time to time, the color and texture can help identify which fluid is leaking. When your car leaks fluid, you may need to make an appointment with your mechanic so you’re not stuck on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck and an unwelcome and disturbingly high repair bill. With that in mind, here are some of the identifying characteristics of the fluids that keep your car running smoothly.
What the colors of your car fluid mean
If you see a fluid leak under your vehicle, you can sometimes tell where the leak is coming from by the color of the fluid. Here’s a chart of automotive fluid
colors Coolant Colors – Coolant Leaks Are Most Common
Coolant colors vary by car manufacturer and model year. They range from traditional green as a universal coolant to blue for Honda, purple for some late model Chrysler products, orange for GM vehicles, red or pink for Toyota, pink for many European vehicles, and yellow as a universal coolant G -5.
Where You Will Detect Coolant Leaks
Coolant can leak from the radiator (on the floor under the grill area), the hoses (from the grill area to the engine), the coolant reservoir (usually located on the left side or right side of the engine compartment), heater core (which would escape from the vehicle through the condensation drain under the heater housing), or the water pump (under the vehicle near the front of the engine).
How coolant feels between your fingers
Coolant has a slightly oily feel, but not as slippery as motor oil. It has a sweet smell. It has a very thin, almost watery consistency
Most transmission fluids start out bright red. As they age, the tint fades to a pink color. If the transmission overheats, the fluid burns and turns a dark brown with a foul odor.
Where You Will Detect Transmission Fluid Leaks
The transmission can leak from the axle shaft seals directly under the transmission or from the transmission cooler line connections on the transmission or radiator (the transmission oil cooler usually It is inside the radiator).
How Transmission Fluid Feels Between
Your Fingers Transmission fluid is a light oil and will feel slippery between your fingers, although not as viscous as motor oil.
New brake fluid is honey colored, while old brake fluid may be brown or dark brown
. Will Detect Brake Fluid Leaks
Brake fluid can leak from the brake caliper or from the wheel cylinders located at each wheel. If they do leak, you will often find wet spots on the inside of the tires and wheels or puddles on the ground under each wheel.
However, if the brake lines have rusted and failed, you may see puddles along each side of the vehicle as well as under each wheel.
How Brake Fluid Feels Between Your Fingers
Brake fluid feels very thin and slightly slippery. No odor
New engine oil is honey in color. As it ages, it turns greyish and then dark brown.
Where You’ll Find Engine Oil Leaks
The engine usually leaks from the valve cover gasket, oil pan gasket, timing cover gasket, or rear main seal. So you will see the leak either on the engine or on the ground directly below the engine.
How motor oil feels between your fingers
Slippery. It may have a fuel odor.
Steering Fluid Color
Car manufacturers use a traditional red transmission fluid or a clear power steering
Where You’ll Find Power Steering Fluid Leaks
Power steering fluid can leak from the steering rack which is often mounted behind the engine directly below the brake pedal. However, power steering fluid can also leak from the power steering pump at the front of the engine or along either of the two power steering hoses.
How does power steering fluid feel between your fingers?
It has a slight oily/slippery feel to it. If the fluid is toward the brown side, it may have a burning odor.
Clear liquid on the floor under the fan motor area
This is water condensation from your vehicle’s air conditioning. It drains from the AC evaporator coil and falls to the ground, usually forming a large puddle after parking. It is odorless and feels like water between your fingers. It’s perfectly normal when you run your air conditioner
How to tell what’s leaking based on the color of the fluid
There’s nothing more disconcerting than walking away from your car that appears to be in perfect condition, only to return to discover a puddle of mysterious fluid collecting underneath of the . This does not bode well for your car and is usually a sign of a fluid leak. While the fluid can be anything from motor oil to power steering fluid, at Oxmoor Toyota we created this detailed list to help you identify exactly what is leaking from your car.
There are two fluids used by your vehicle that are red. These are automatic transmission fluid and power steering. Both are hydraulic fluids. You’ll want to check your owner’s manual to see if your vehicle, like some others, actually uses automatic transmission fluid in its power steering system.
The color of the power steering fluid will be affected by time. If fresh it will be red, but as time passes it will turn reddish brown before turning antique brown. You can identify power steering fluid through other attributes, such as its oily feel and thin consistency. It also has the scent of burnt marshmallows.
Automatic transmission fluid is also red when new. As the miles progress, it will change to a reddish-brown color. It is slippery to the touch and smells of petroleum. If you suspect your transmission fluid is leaking, you’ll need to schedule a transmission inspection.
If you see yellow fluid leaking from your vehicle, do not drive it. The fluid leaking from your car is probably brake fluid. When fresh, brake fluid is light yellow in color, but darkens as it ages. If not maintained, it can even look like a dark brown. If you touch it, you will notice its oily and slippery feeling. It also has a rather distinctive smell like fish oil. You will need to call your mechanic right away so that the brake system can be checked out. You may need to repair or even replace your brake lines.
Automatic transmission coolant and fluid may be orange in color. When the coolant is orange, it may be a sign that rust has built up in your car’s cooling system. If you smell something sweet and feel something slimy, the leaking fluid is most likely coolant. One of the main causes of engine damage is coolant loss, so if you have a coolant leak, you’ll need to take your car to the mechanic as soon as possible.
Your automatic transmission fluid appears on this list again because as it ages it can also turn orange. If you’re not sure if you have an automatic transmission or a coolant link, calling your mechanic to have it inspected may only help.
Pink, Yellow, or Green Liquid
If you notice a pink, yellow, or green leak, you are witnessing a refrigerant leak. Coolant can also leak from multiple areas of your car’s cooling system. Ignoring a coolant leak is not a wise choice, as it will ultimately cause your car’s engine to overheat. Once the engine gets to that point, you’ll have a pretty hefty bill to pay for repairs. It is always much more profitable to take your car to the workshop to take preventive measures.
There is only one fluid that is blue and that is windshield washer fluid. This thin, watery liquid smells like your everyday window cleaner. It can come in other colors, like green, and while a cracked washer fluid reservoir doesn’t signal the end of your car’s days, it’s a good idea to call your mechanic so he can check it out for you.
Brown and Black
has a light brown color when first used and darkens each time it goes through your car’s engine, collecting dirt and combustion byproducts in the process. If thick, slippery liquid builds up under your car and it looks brown or black, you have a possible motor oil leak on your hands. If your car is only experiencing a small leak, you can avoid any problems by keeping your oil level to max until you have time to take your vehicle in for an inspection, which we recommend doing as soon as possible.
There are two different fluids that are both clear, water and gasoline. If you have water leaking from the underside of your car, you will be able to identify it by touch and a good sniff as well. Fortunately, if it’s just water collecting under your car, you don’t have to worry, as the condensation is most likely simply draining from your air conditioner.
On the other hand, a clear fluid could also be gasoline. Again, you can trust your nose here to pick this fluid out of a lineup. Now, if you can see a gas leak from your car, you’ll need to call your mechanic right away. Do not drive the vehicle until you have been able to speak to a professional.
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