Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Car fluid color chart

Car fluid color chart

What the car fluid colors mean

If you see a fluid leak under your vehicle, you can sometimes tell where the leak is coming from by the color of the fluid. Here’s a car fluid color chart

Coolant colors — Coolant leaks are the most common

Coolant colors vary by carmaker and model year. They range from the traditional green as a universal coolant, to blue for Honda, purple for some late model Chrysler products, orange for GM vehicles, Red or Pink for Toyota, Pink for many European vehicles, to yellow as a universal G-5 coolant.

Where you’ll spot coolant leaks

Coolant can leak from the radiator (on the ground under the grille area), hoses (from grille area to engine), the coolant reservoir (usually located on either the left or right side of engine compartment), heater core (which would leak out of the vehicle through the condensate drain under the heater box), or the water pump (under vehicle near the front of engine).

How Coolant feels between your fingers

Coolant has a slightly oily feel, but not as slippery as motor oil. It has a sweet smell. It has a very thin, almost watery consistency

car flud color chart

Transmission fluid colors

Most transmission fluids start out as bright red. As they age, the dye fades to a pink color. If the transmission overheats, the fluid burns and turns dark brown with a bad smell.

Where you’ll spot transmission fluid leaks

Transmission fluid can leak out the axle shaft seals directly under the transmission or from the transmission cooler line connections at the transmission or the radiator (the transmission oil cooler is usually located inside the radiator).

How transmission fluid feels between your fingers

Transmission fluid is a light oil and will feel slippery between your fingers, although not as viscous as motor oil

Brake fluid color

New brake fluid is honey colored, while older brake fluid can be brown or dark brown

Where you’ll spot brake fluid leaks

Brake fluid can leak from the brake caliper or wheel cylinders located at each wheel. If they’re leaking, you’ll often find wet spots on the inside of the tires and wheels or puddles on the ground under each wheel.

However, if the brake lines have rusted and failed, you might see puddles along each side of the vehicle in addition to under each wheel.

What brake fluid feels like between your fingers

Brake fluid feels very thin slightly slippery feel. It has no smell

Engine oil color

New engine oil is honey colored. As it ages it turns grayish and then dark brown.

Where you’ll find engine oil leaks

Engine oil usually leaks from the valve cover gasket, oil pan gasket, timing cover gasket or rear main seal. So you’ll spot the leakage on the engine or on the ground directly below the engine.

What engine oil feel like between your fingers

Slippery. It may have a fuel smell to it.


Power steering fluid color

Carmakers use either a traditional red transmission fluid or a clear power steering fluid

Where you’ll find power steering fluid leaks

Power steering fluid can leak from the steering rack which is often mounted behind the engine directly below the brake pedal. However, power steering fluid can also leak from the power steering pump at the front of the engine or along either of the two power steering hoses.

What does power steering fluid feel like between your fingers

It has a slight oily/slippery feel to it. If the fluid is toward the brown side, it may have a burned smell to it.

Clear fluid on the ground under the blower motor area

This is water condensation from your vehicle’s air conditioning. It drains out of the AC evaporator coil and onto the ground, usually forming a large puddle after you park. It has no smell and feels like water between your fingers. It’s perfectly normal when you operate your AC

Puddle size

3-in. or larger is considered a serious leak that requires your immediate attention. Check all fluid levels and top off immediately before continuing to drive the vehicle. Get it to a shop ASAP.

1-in. to 2-in. is a drip and should be checked out soon.Check all fluids and top off and get the vehicle inspected\

©, 2022 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat


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