Determining Leak Sources by Puddle Colors
November 21, 2022
Written By Adam Buckallew
If you spot a puddle under your vehicle or equipment, you may have a fluid leak that requires your attention. Taking a closer look at the color and consistency of the puddle can go a long way in helping you diagnose the source.
You may see a rainbow of hues on the concrete floors of your garage or equipment shed. The following is a list of colors and the fluids they could indicate are leaking:
Clear – If the puddle is colorless, there are two primary possibilities: water or gasoline. Water commonly drains from air conditioning condensers. Large puddles may seem concerning, but the presence of water is normal and nothing to worry about. A quick sniff test can help you identify a gasoline leak.
Red – Transmission fluid is typically bright red when new and becomes reddish brown as it ages. It has a consistency like engine oil and is slick to the touch. Red puddles could signal that your vehicle has a transmission or power steering leak.
Blue – Windshield washer solution is the most likely source of any pools of blue liquid. Windshield washer solution has a consistency similar to water and smells like ordinary glass cleaner. You may have a cracked reservoir, brittle washer solution line or a leaky washer pump.
Green – There are a couple of fluids that come in green hues. Some windshield washer fluids are dyed green. If you have an older vehicle made in 2000 or before, it may use green antifreeze. Green engine coolant is formulated with Inorganic Additive Technology to protect the steel and copper components found in older vehicles’ cooling systems from rust and corrosion.
Browns and Blacks – Typically, brand new engine oil is a slightly translucent amber color that has the consistency of olive oil. Over time, the oil typically becomes darker and thicker as it collects dirt and combustion byproducts. If the liquid pooling under your vehicle is brown or black, thick and slippery, you may be dealing with an engine oil leak. You can top off your engine oil to prevent any issues to give yourself time to bring your vehicle in for an inspection.
If you are ever in doubt about the type of fluid that is leaking, contact the MFA Oil laboratory for assistance or visit a mechanic for an inspection.