Most of us have seen a suspicious puddle under our car at one time or another. It can be tempting to panic at the first sign of a leak, wondering if it’s safe to continue driving. While it’s important to have all leaks inspected and serviced as soon as possible, here are a few guidelines to help you decide if it’s safe to drive:
Determine Which Fluid Is Leaking
First and foremost, it’s important to figure out what fluid is leaking. Car’s need a variety of fluid- engine oil, transmission oil, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, differential oil, etc.- and many of these fluids look the same to the untrained eye. It’s best to use a white rag to mop up the fluid and compare it to this guide, or to the other fluids in your car.
Figure Out How Much Was Lost
Checking your fluid levels is another indicator of urgent the problem is. A little seepage is fairly normal, even on newer models; if you only see a few drops, you probably don’t have anything to worry about. But, if there’s a giant puddle under your car, you might want to give your mechanic a call for additional advice on drivability.
This step is especially important for oil, as checking your oil level is the only way to determine if it’s safe to drive with an oil leak or not. Modern cars have a display on the dashboard, but older cars require a quick check on the oil level dipstick. Your oil level should always be between the minimum and maximum markers, ideally right in the middle. Either way, it’s still a good idea to check your engine to try and determine where the leak is coming from. It’s often harder to find the source as a leak starts to get bigger.
As long as the level of your engine oil doesn’t drop below the minimum, the risk of driving with a minor leak is fairly small. However, all leaks should be examined by a professional mechanic and repaired as soon as possible, as small leaks can quickly turn into major problems. At V&F, our expert mechanics use latest diagnostic equipment, and high-quality CARQUEST auto parts, to make sure we get the job done right. Plus, our auto repair services are backed by an industry-leading 3 year / 36,000-mile warranty on parts and labor. Call us today at (413) 314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.