What is an oil/fluid leak inspection?

An oil/fluid leak inspection consists of identifying precisely what type of fluid is leaking from the car and then finding the exact source of that leak. Once that’s done, a mechanic can go about repairing the oil/fluid leak, which might require replacing hoses or more complicated parts.
If you see oil or fluid leaking from your car, use a flashlight to look at the liquid itself. The color of the liquid can give you a general sense of what might be wrong:
  • Dark brown or blackish might be motor oil. If it feels slimy, it might be brake fluid. Be sure to wash your hands if you touch any liquid coming out of your car
  • Light brown might be motor oil. If the car has gone a long time without replacing transmission fluid, it might be that. It could also be gear lubricant—if it’s really stinky, it’s probably that
  • Orange liquid might be antifreeze, transmission fluid, or AC condensation
  • Red or pink liquid will usually either be power steering fluid or transmission fluid
  • Green or yellow is almost always antifreeze or coolant
  • Blue liquid is usually windshield wiper fluid, but some Hondas also use blue coolant
  • Clear liquid might be either brake fluid or AC condensation. Brake fluid gets darker over time, especially after 10,000 miles

How to perform an oil/fluid leak inspection

The actual oil/fluid leak inspection itself is fairly straightforward: your mechanic will identify what type of liquid is leaking and from where, and then figure out the source of that leak.
This information will tell your mechanic what the next course of action needs to be. Many fluid leaks are simple repairs where just a tube or hose needs replacing. Sometimes, a gasket or O-ring might need replacing, which can cost up to $300 or more.
More rarely, there might be a serious problem requiring a more complicated repair, costing thousands of dollars. But until your mechanic has performed an oil/fluid leak inspection, it’s impossible to list off all of the parts that might need fixing.

Do I need an oil/fluid leak inspection?

The most obvious symptom of an oil/fluid leak is visibly seeing liquid dripping from underneath your car. If there’s an unexpected puddle of oil/fluid beneath your vehicle, it might mean there’s an oil/fluid leak.
The car’s behavior will give you clues, too. For instance, if the brakes are performing strangely (or poorly) and you’re seeing clear or dark liquid, you might have a brake line leak. If there’s red or pink fluid leaking and the steering wheel feels sluggish, it might be a power steering leak.

How important is an oil/fluid leak inspection?

An oil/fluid leak can be quite dangerous depending on what type of fluid is leaking. Brake fluid, motor oil, transmission fluid, coolant…any of these can lead to unsafe driving conditions and extremely expensive repairs after some time.
If you spot an oil or fluid leak under your car, you can try to identify the leak yourself, but definitely leave the more intensive oil/fluid leak inspection and subsequent repairs to a trained and experienced professional.

How to find cheap car insurance

Figuring out what type of fluid is leaking from your car is easy for a professional. But without getting an oil/fluid leak inspection, you can definitely be left guessing.
Know what else involves lots of guesswork? Finding the right car insurance when you aren’t using the Jerry app!
Jerry makes it easier than ever to switch car insurance carriers and save hundreds of dollars or more per year on car insurance, with Jerry users saving $879 on average. Simply download the app, answer a handful of questions, and you’ll be looking at more than 50 quotes in minutes.
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