If you drive a high-mileage automobile, you run a greater risk of developing an automotive leak than if your car is brand new. This doesn’t mean new cars can’t spring leaks, as well. They can. It just means that as the miles pile up on a vehicle, common automotive problems often cause fluid leaks. Hummel’s Automotive Diagnostic & Repair lists five common leaks below and how they’re caused.
1. Oil Leak
An oil leak is bad news no matter how you slice it. Your vehicle’s engine needs oil to lubricate moving parts and prevent friction. As oil leaks out of the engine, the parts wear against each other and overheat. Eventually, the parts breakdown completely and seize up. Oil leaks can be caused by a hole in the oil pan, a broken seal, a worn out engine gasket, or a problem with the valve gasket.
2. Transmission Leak
A transmission leak can cause the same damage to the transmission that an oil leak can cause to the engine. Transmission fluid is red to brown, depending on its age, and usually leaks from the center of your automobile. Things that cause a transmission leak include a cracked or loose pan gasket, a hole in the transmission pan, debris that has damaged a transmission hose, or a leaking torque converter.
3. Brake Leak
Brake fluid tends to be clear or amber when it’s brand new and darkens to brown or black as it ages. A brake fluid leak is serious in that your vehicle will not stop without brake fluid. This is why the bad guy cuts the brake lines on TV and in film. Brake fluid can leak from the master cylinder, loose bleeder valves, the brake hoses, the calipers or caliper seals, or the wheel cylinders.
4. Coolant Leak
Coolant leaks will overheat your engine and could be a sign of serious cooling system or transmission damage. Coolant tends to leak from the radiator, the radiator tubes/hoses, or the sealing gasket. Other ways your engine can lose coolant is through a blown head gasket, which mixes the coolant with engine oil, or via the transmission, which mixes the coolant with transmission fluid.
5. Power Steering Leak
Finally, if you have hydraulic power steering in your car instead of electric power steering, you have power steering fluid. You’ll see red fluid leaking from the front of your car if your power steering is leaking. Causes of power steering leaks include o-ring or seal failure. Usually, these parts harden and crack over time, and the power steering fluid leaks out of the damaged part.