Identifying Automotive Leaks By Coloring

Your vehicle is full of a wide range of different liquids that all perform different, but essential, functions within the many systems of your car. Any sort of fluid leak is a serious mechanical concern because it means that one of these systems is going to be unable to operate properly, negatively affecting the performance of your car and making it riskier to take your vehicle on the road.

Being able to identify leaks on your driveway by color can make it easier for you to determine where the issue inside your car lies so that you can fix the underlying problem quickly and with less guesswork. Even if you can't see the color of the liquid on the pavement, you can always blot it up with a paper towel or clean rag to see the coloring.

Brown and Black

The most common reason why you will see a brownish color because of oil or brake fluid, both of which are essential to the normal operation of your vehicle. Oil will tend to be a lighter shade, with a yellowish tinge around the edges, and will be slippery if you rub it between your fingers. Brake fluid tends to be uniform in color and won't have a slippery texture if you rub it.


Red leaks tend to point to transmission fluid, which is a very serious concern as it will affect the ability of your engine to change gears and can cause sudden surging or losses of speed. This can lead to accidents if you aren't careful. However, keep in mind that other types of fluid may take on a red or orange tint if you have a rust issue within that specific system: leaking antifreeze is the likeliest culprit, as it is relatively uncolored, but it can also just be condensation collecting on the bottom of your vehicle if there is rust present. In any case, you should get the transmission and underside of your car checked out to determine where the problem lies (and other systems if the issue isn't found).


Green leaks are usually caused by radiator leak, which is usually a fairly simple repair since a hose has usually come loose, or a seal has broken. However, the simplicity of this repair doesn't mean that you can put this repair off: a malfunctioning radiator means that your engine won't be able to cool itself down properly, which can lead to reduced performance, poor fuel efficiency, overheating, and even engine damage.

For more information, contact your local automotive repair maintenance service.