HOW TO DIAGNOSE A FLUID LEAK IN YOUR CAR

 

Fluid leaking from a car can be a real concern for any driver. Regarding fluid leaks, the most vital thing a vehicle owner can do is to know the kind of fluid leaking from their car and where it is leaking from. Clear fluid leaking from a car can range from the relatively harmless (water), to the potentially risky (brake fluid/gasoline). Being able to know the difference between various fluids will assist a mechanic gauge what sort of repair will have to be done. Location is also very vital when considering fluid leaks. For example, a fluid leaking from underneath the engine is likely to need a different repair than a fluid leaking from around the middle, or back of a car.

How this system functions:

Vehicles need many different fluids to run effectively and efficiently. Knowing the difference between these various fluids can be very assistive when speaking with a mechanic, so that he or she can be better aware of what the issues your vehicle may be having. Many of the fluids your car will need are filled or refilled through reservoirs in the engine bay. Being able to identify between different fluids can be especially helpful if you observe liquid pooling underneath the engine, as the engine area/front of the car is a common place to notice a leak. A clear fluid leak could be a number of things based depending on the location of the leak. Water leaks tend to happen at the front of the car when condensation forms on the car’s air conditioning system. Brake fluid leaks tend to happen around the middle or back of the car and tend to be seen directly under the path of a car’s brake lines, or around the wheels. Gasoline leaks tend to occur toward the back of the engine around the area of the filler neck/gas tank.

Common reasons why this happen:

  • Water from A/C:A clear fluid leaking from the front of the car is likely to be water. If you have been running your A/C, condensation forms on a part of the air conditioning system known as the evaporator. Water droplets then fall underneath the engine bay section. If you see a water leak, it is always best to check the fluid to make sure it is not something more serious.
  • Failing Break Lines:Clear fluid leaking from the middle of the car may be brake fluid. New brake fluid is typically clear, changing to yellow and even brown as it gets older. Brake fluid is also a different section than water, and feels slick to the touch. As brake lines get older and start to rust, they may begin to fail, making brake fluid to leak underneath the car. Brake fluid leaking from around the wheel area may be due to a worn wheel cylinder seals. Brake fluid leaks are potentially dangerous as the braking ability of your car may be compromised by the loss of pressure in the braking system.
  • Leaking Gas Tank:Clear fluid leaking from the back of the car may be gasoline. Gasoline is easiest to distinguish because of its unique smell and the rainbow effect it creates when seen on the ground in light. Gasoline leaks are potentially dangerous and can dramatically affect economy. Just like brake lines, the gas filler neck and tank can get rusty and fail, causing a leak.

How it is done:

An expert mechanic should first identify the type of fluid leaking and the root of the leak. Furnishing the mechanic with this information can help save time and will provide him or her a better idea of what the issue might be.

If the leak seems to be water coming from the front of the engine, the mechanic should inspect your vehicle’s air conditioning system to make sure it is operating properly. If the leak seems to be brake fluid, the mechanic may have to change brake lines or wheel cylinder seals. When changing brake lines, it is wise to have all of lines changed at the same time. This will guarantee that all the lines are new and will not be affected by corrosion in the same way the old lines were. The mechanic will then check through a process called “bleeding” in which excess air is ousted from the braking system. They will then top off brake fluid as required. If the leak is from a wheel cylinder seal, the mechanic will also check brake shoes to ensure their effectiveness. If the leak seems to be gasoline, either the filler neck, gas tank, or both may need to be changed.

The mechanic will know what needs to be changed and perform the necessary repairs. During the process, the mechanic will make sure that the new components fit together nicely to ensure that there are no further leaks.

How important is this repair?

All leaks are vital to monitor, but clear fluid, especially if it leaking from the middle or back of the car, is critical to have inspected. Leaking gasoline or brake fluid could potentially create a fire or loss of braking ability. Cars with gasoline or brake fluid leaking should not be driven until they can be safely repaired by an expert. Being able to know the different liquids your car uses can help a mechanic quickly find the source of a problem and start the necessary repairs.

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