Power steering fluid intake.

A Machine Full of Fluid

A popular television character once said that all humans are no more than “sacks full of water; if you puncture us, the water leaks out.” While that is an extremely reductive view of the human body, it rings with a certain kind of truth. The same, in many ways, could be said of our vehicles, which are too sturdy to be called “sacks” but are still as dependent on their fluids as we are on ours. 

Cars leaking fluids is a fact of life, however. It is all too common to see a puddle of some kind of liquid under a car as it backs away; the puddles might even be different colors, based on which fluid is leaking.

Let’s take a look at what these fluids are and how to know that it’s time to bring your vehicle into the South Ogden Master Muffler for a car repair.

The Colors of the Rainbow

Thanks to the plethora of different types of fluid being used throughout the car or truck, leaks could come from anywhere and they could all look different from one another. Should every type of liquid hypothetically leak at the same time, you would experience a whole rainbow of colors seeping under the chassis of the vehicle, making for a vibrant, if not pollutive, display.

Let’s go over what each type of fluid looks like so you can more easily identify what the problem is if you spot a leak.


Let’s start with the foundational fluid in any motor vehicle. Gas not only regularly ends up on the ground (thanks to misappropriated measurements of how much is needed when topping off at the gas pump), but it can create a host of environmental issues.

  • Gasoline’s distinctive smell will be a giveaway.
  • A leak may be the result of bad fuel injectors or a broken fuel line

Windshield Wiper Fluid

One of the first fluids that we likely learned how to check and replace, we can recognize wiper fluid by its distinctive blue liquid.

  • This fluid is the most “watery” of your car’s fluids, as it lacks the distinct viscosity of something like motor oil.
  • It is often bright blue but has been known to come in other colors. 
  • A leak may have something to do with a broken line up to the windshield jets or a faulty reservoir cap.

Motor Oil

Engine oil is the most common fluid to leak out of the bottom of the car. You are encouraged to get an oil change every 30,000 miles or so, but you may need to drop by our South Ogden car repair center earlier than that if leaking has become a recurring problem.

  • Leaks usually appear under the engine.
  • The liquid is black or brown and often has a burnt smell.
  • A leak could come from a number of different sources, including a broken oil pan or filter.


Mixed in a 50/50 solution with water, antifreeze is perhaps uncharacteristic of its name because it both keeps the engine from getting too cold and too hot. 

  • Can come in a number of different colors, like red, green, or orange.
  • Usually has a sweet smell.
  • Leaks may appear under the engine or even out the tailpipe.
  • A leak may mean the radiator is broken or perhaps a water pump.
  • This leak should be seen by a Master Muffler technician immediately. 

Brake Fluid

The brake fluid uses hydraulic pressure to stop the car with the brake pads. If you have an issue with this type of fluid, you’ll have trouble stopping. 

  • Rather generic in appearance, it can often be confused for power steering fluid. 
  • Because the brake system runs the entire length of the car, a leak can happen anywhere.
  • If you see a leak coming from the brake lines, make sure to have a mechanic at our West Valley car repair center tend to it immediately. 

Power Steering Fluid

Have you ever tried to drive without power steering fluid? The steering wheel becomes difficult to move without an extreme exertion of muscles.

  • A red liquid with a sweet, burnt smell.
  • It is thinner than motor oil but may smell the same.
  • A leak may be caused by hoses becoming unhooked from the power steering reservoir.
  • You’ll know you’ll have a problem with the power steering if the steering wheel suddenly becomes difficult to handle.

Transmission Fluid

This type of fluid keeps the gears in the gearbox lubricated so that there is no unpleasant grinding whenever you shift gears.

  • Another red liquid but without any real smell to identify it.
  • This leak usually appears in the center of the car, between the engine and the transmission.
  • A leak could be due to a crack in the selector shaft.

Just like the human body, if you spot an uncharacteristic leak, there is probably something wrong. You’ll want to bring your vehicle to our South Ogden car repair center immediately. Hopefully, this list has provided you with enough information to make an informed decision. Give us a call anytime to set up an appointment.

Categories: Automotive Info

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