Many motorists will be unaware of the different types of leaks that can come from their vehicle. Ignoring these leaks may lead to further damage or costly repairs, so how can drivers recognise various leaking fluids and their different levels of urgency?
Car warranty specialists MotorEasy have identified the car leaks motorists should not ignore this winter, including:
1. Brown/Black - Engine Oil
One of the most common car leaks is engine oil - that puddle of brown or black liquid under a vehicle. Be sure to locate the leak if possible; you can visually check whereabouts under the bonnet, and it should be easy to find.
Sometimes this kind of fluid leak is due to a simple valve cover gasket that has loosened and just needs tightening back up, but if it is more than a small leak, it may be time to call a garage for a second opinion.
Leaving an engine oil leak can end up causing damage to the vehicle, and can even cause the engine to fail within 30 minutes if the oil completely runs out. A brand new engine can cost upwards of £1,500 to replace an old engine damaged by lack of oil.
2. Red - Power Steering Fluid
If your car appears to be leaking red coloured liquid, it can be quite alarming. This indicates that transmission fluid has sprung a leak due to broken seals, failing gaskets or just general wear and tear of the vehicle.
Avoid driving when you notice this type of leak as it can be dangerous and also cause further damage. The owner's manual can show how to check the transmission fluid levels whilst you wait for a professional to take a look at it.
3. Multi-coloured - Fuel Leak
Another common car leak is fuel. This will look like a multi-coloured, shiny type of liquid underneath the vehicle that may also have a strong smell to it. Leaking fuel is not only a hazard due to its flammable nature but it also impacts the amount of money spent on petrol or diesel. These leaks usually happen when there is a crack in the fuel tank, so a mechanic should be able to patch this up or replace completely, with an approximate cost of £130.
4. Green/Yellow - Coolant
Engine coolant leaks can be the result of damage to the radiator or a loose cap. The sweet scent of the coolant should indicate its origin, and its distinctive texture will help to differentiate it from water if the coolant has no colour to it.
With this type of leak, the engine is at risk of overheating, which is bad news whilst travelling and can lead to vehicle breakdown, so it is important to get it seen to quickly.
5. Clear - Water
The least worrisome car leak of all is water, as this can just indicate simple condensation from the aircon unit, or the exhaust. In winter, if you spot a water leak that is coming from the windscreen washers, it's a good idea to investigate as you may require the antifreeze washer fluid on those frosty mornings.
Duncan McClure Fisher, CEO at MotorEasy says ‘It can be easy to ignore car leaks but it is worth investigating the root cause in case it is a sign of bigger issues, especially in winter when motorists need their vehicles in top condition. Knowing the difference between the various types of leaks can indicate the urgency of the situation, and whether professional help is required or if it is an easy fix that you may be able to solve yourself.
We would advise checking coolant, water and engine oil levels as basic maintenance before setting off on any long journeys this winter, and always making time to investigate the source of a leak in case it could compromise safety.’