Help! What Fluid Is Leaking Out of My Car?

You’re already running late for work and as you pull out of your garage you see fluid spots on your garage floor. You curse, much to your wife’s dismay, and put the car in park. You run into the garage to see what the leaking fluid is, but you really can’t tell by its color, can you? Yes! According to Auto Correct Car Care you can, and here’s a guide to help you.


First, take a deep breath and don’t panic. Unless you have a huge puddle on your garage floor, everything is okay. Yes, you need to have the leak inspected right away, but if there are only a few spots on the floor, you can wait until after work. Grab a white cloth and dab some fluid to check the color.

Brown to Black

Light brown, dark brown, and black fluid is probably engine oil. Fresh motor oil is amber in color. Oil that is getting dirty will darken over time, which means if the fluid is dark brown or black, your motor oil is way too dirty. Don’t drive your vehicle if there is a lot of brown fluid on the garage floor.

Red or Brown

Transmission fluid is also called transmission oil and it is red or brown. Here, you want to check the consistency of the fluid if there is enough of it on the garage floor, which we hope there isn’t. Thin and red is fresh transmission fluid. Thick and brown is old and dirty transmission fluid or motor oil.

Light Brown or Red

Here’s the thing, though. Power steering fluid is also red or light brown, so it could be power steering fluid, too. Power steering fluid is always thin, whether new or old, so this is your first clue. If the fluid is leaking toward the front of your vehicle, it is also likely power steering fluid instead of transmission oil.

Light or Dark Brown

If you see light or dark brown fluid on the garage floor that has the consistency of mineral oil, it is brake fluid. In some cases, new brake fluid can be almost clear, so check the consistency to see if it’s oily to the touch. If it is, don’t wait to have the leak inspected because your car cant’ stop without brake fluid.

Rainbow Colors

Coolant can be just about any color in the rainbow. Usually, it is green, pink, red, or yellow, depending on the coolant type and how clean it is. Coolant on your garage floor doesn’t necessarily mean a leak. It could also be overflow if your engine is running too hot. Either way, it’s not good to leak coolant.

Auto Correct Car Care in Finksburg, MD, would be happy to inspect any fluid leak from your car, truck, or SUV.