DIAGNOSE – MY VEHICLE IS LEAKING SOME FLUID
by Lance Wright
A leak is present, however, its origin is unknown.
Identifying the type of leak is critical in determining its origin. Automotive fluids are often colored and by identifying the color of the leak you can determine from which component it is leaking from. Taking a small sample from each reservoir or dipstick can help you locate the type of fluid leak. For instance, automatic transmission fluid is red, engine oil is brown or black, differential fluid or gear lube has a foul odor to it. The location of the fluid leak is an indication of its origin, i.e. center of vehicle, front of vehicle, etc. Be aware that a leaking hose on top of the engine will leak fluid down over the engine. The engine parts may route the leak away from its source. It is sometimes easier to clean and degrease the engine prior to inspection. This will prevent you from identifying components that are actually leaking from components that are only in the path of the leak. Your diagnosis should start with an inspection of each fluid level. Refer to “Vehicle Maintenance Tips” and your owners manual for more information. Low fluid level is an indication of a leak. Once the type of fluid has been identified you should refer to that components section for further diagnosis.