There's nothing quite like the slow realization that the stain on your favorite parking spot at work has been coming from your car. What is it? When did it start? How much is it going to cost to fix? When many car owners realize that they have a leak, their initial reaction may be to put it off for as long as possible. After all, the car had been leaking for some amount of time before you ever noticed the problem, so what's a few more days… or weeks? As tempting as this can be, there are many reasons that leaks should never be ignored.
All of Your Car's Fluids Matter
While it is obviously important to identify which fluid is leaking, it's also important to understand that every fluid in your car matters. Whether you are leaking motor oil, coolant, transmission oil, or differential oil, all of these items can seriously impact how well your car drives and, even worse, can cause major damage if their levels are allowed to fall too low. While most people are familiar with the catastrophes that can occur if oil pressure falls too low, an overheating engine can cause equally expensive damage. Likewise, a transmission that is low on fluid can quickly overheat and even fail entirely.
The Leak May Be More Serious Than You Realize
A few drops here and there may not seem like much, but pavement stains rarely tell the whole story. Depending on the type of fluid that is leaking and the location of the leak, the majority of the fluid loss may be occurring while the car is in motion. Most fluids are circulating while the car is running, which can make losses more serious. In some cases, the fluid may settle away from the location of the leak while the car is off and the drips you notice are simply from residual fluid left in the system.
It's Not Always Easy to Locate a Leak
You may think that you've spotted the source of a leak when you notice a build-up of oil or coolant in some particular area, but leaks can "travel." As your car travels along the road, oil or other fluids that have leaked out can creep across hoses or drip down onto splash guards or cosmetic covers. Valve cover gasket leaks are common on many cars, for example, and these can often drip onto parts of the exhaust, creating the impression that the car is burning oil.
Because low fluid levels can cause so much damage to your car, it is important to have a professional mechanic evaluate the situation and suggest auto repairs as soon as you notice any fluid loss. Most leaks can be fixed for a few hundred dollars or less, but if left unaddressed, they have the potential to create repair bills that may cost you thousands of dollars.Share