Automotive Tips

How to Handle Fluids Leaking from Your Car

Technician_Car_26Finding a fluid puddle under a vehicle is a scary discovery for many vehicle owners. In this blog post, we describe some of the most common car leaks and show how regular maintenance can help prevent these puddles from occurring in the first place.

Service an Oil Leak Right Away

You can spot an oil leak by the brown, slick spot on your garage floor under the engine. An oil puddle wider than three inches is a serious condition and it means you should call a tow truck.

Warning: Trying to drive a vehicle with a major oil leak – even a short distance – can do massive engine damage.

The good news is most oil leaks start small. In fact, a puddle between 1 to 2 inches in diameter is called “seepage.” Such small spots do not represent an immediate threat to your engine. If you notice this, our best advice is to bring your vehicle to a local Jiffy Lube® for a Signature Service® Oil Change. We will pinpoint the leak and recommend the best repair option.

Coolant Leaks Can Signal Big Trouble

Newer vehicles have coolant recovery reservoirs that capture and recycle any blow-off coolant. So, if you have a late model vehicle, you should not see the telltale neon-colored leak spot on your garage floor.

If you do, it is a sign of potential trouble such as a leaky water pump or worn coolant system hose. These issues will lead to an overheated engine if they are not addressed.

Do Not Drive if You Find a Brake Fluid Leak

Hydraulic brake systems need fluid to operate correctly. If you notice a clear or slightly brown slick spot on your parking space, you may have a brake fluid leak. The clear oily spot means the fluid is new; the brown spot means the leaking fluid is old.

Tip: Brake fluid is based off of vegetable oil, so it feels more slippery than engine oil.

The most likely cause of a brake fluid leak is a worn seal in either the master cylinder or the wheel cylinder (for drum brake systems). If you suspect a brake fluid leak, we recommend calling tow truck. Even small brake fluid leaks can result in total system failure.

Note: Most vehicles have a brake warning light on the dashboard. If your fluid gets too low for any reason, this dashboard light will illuminate.

Preventive Maintenance Helps Avoid All Leaks

Many leaks are caused because hoses, gaskets, valves, and filters cannot withstand the build-up of engine fluid contaminants. At Jiffy Lube® locations throughout Southern California, our preventive maintenance makes sure these fluids are drained and freshly restocked to the vehicle manufacturer’s specifications. By keeping the fluid clean and contaminant free, you can help prolong the life of these engine components.

For More Information

There are many other aspects to engine fluid leaks than the ones we have covered here. In future articles, we will cover drivetrain leaks, transmission fluid leaks, and much more.


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