My Car is Leaking – What Should I Do?
“My car is leaking” can be a bit of a stress trigger for drivers. Should you continue driving? Will it get worse? Any of the Country Vehicles team will tell you that cars are prone to leaking, and it’s not always something you need to be concerned about. In this article we separate out the OK leaks from the ones that need immediate action – so you know what to do if there’s a puddle under your car.
Examine the Leak
If your car appears to be leaking, don’t start out assuming the worst. Instead, take a closer look in order to find out where it’s coming from and what kind of liquid is being leaked. Here’s a checklist to follow:
• Is it a Leak? Check that what looks like a wet patch is fresh, and that the liquid you see isn’t coming from another source in the street.
• Where’s it Coming From? If it is coming from your car, use a torch to check the underside of the vehicle. Can you seek a drip, or a wet patch?
• What is the Leaked Liquid? It can be hard to identify the leaked liquid on the ground, so put some light-coloured cardboard in the area of the leak to capture it.
My Car is Leaking – A Guide to Action
Once you know the colour of the leaked liquid, you can determine what your next steps should be. Just follow our guide for the range of leaks you may encounter.
You can identify a fuel leak by the rainbows it creates on the tarmac, and the smell of petrol/diesel. If you’re leaking fuel, you most probably have a hole or crack in your fuel tank, and this can be patched at a garage. Until then, limit your driving to necessary journeys as the leak is a fire risk.
A water leak is most likely nothing more than condensation which is escaping from your car’s A/C. It’s an entirely natural process and nothing to worry about. Check that the puddle you’ve identified appears only when you’ve been using the air con. If that’s the case, you can happily ignore this leak.
If your leak is viscous and dark, it’s most probably oil. The likely reason is a valve cover gasket, although it could also be the front engine cover seal, cam and crank seals, the oil pressure switch or PCV system. Check your oil levels as driving with insufficient oil can damage your engine, then get your car to a garage to identify the source of the leak, and repairs.
If you have a red puddle, it’s most probably transmission fluid. Don’t take the risk of driving your car with this kind of leak as it will put you, your passengers, and your car in danger. Get it towed to the nearest garage or get a mobile mechanic to come to you. It could be down to failing gaskets, broken seals or cracked fluid lines.
If you’re unsure whether your leak is coolant fluid, take a sniff. It will smell sweet, probably a bit like candyfloss. Coolant usually leaks from the radiator of your car and as its job is to stop your engine overheating, you’ll want to get it fixed quickly. The problem could be as simple as a radiator cap, or it could be a cracked reservoir.
This is easy to mix up with transmission liquid, except for the smell, which is a bit like burnt sugar. Once you’ve identified the leak, check your power steering fluid level. If it’s very low, you need to get your car to a garage quickly as driving with low levels can damage your car. The problem can be as simple as a connection, or your pump may need replacing.
This is the most dangerous leak and, thankfully, the rarest. The leak would most likely occur around the wheels and the fluid is viscous, like oil. If you have a brake fluid leak do not attempt to drive your car – even to a garage – as you may not have control over your brakes. Get your car towed or get a mobile mechanic to take a look and diagnose the problem.
My Car is Leaking – But I know What To Do
If you have any concerns about suspected leaks from your car, give us a call at Country Vehicles in Shefford. We serve the Bedfordshire region, and we’ll talk through the identification process on your mobile. Then we’ll advise you on whether or not it’s safe to drive to a garage, or get your car towed.
We’re an independent garage in South Bedfordshire, with a reputation for local repairs, vehicle services and MOTs that spans three decades. We take great care of our customers, and we’ll treat your vehicle as if it were our own.
If you live in Bedfordshire and you’re worried about a leak from your car, give us a call at Country Vehicles Shefford and we’ll help you to identify it – 01234 381555