What to do if your car has a leak

We all dread it. Going out to the car and seeing a patch on the driveway underneath it, a sure sign that your car has a leak.

For people who rely on their cars (or those lucky enthusiasts who use their car for hobbies like racing) finding a leak can be a real panic moment. Will your car start? Is it going to cost a lot to repair? Where’s the leak coming from?!

There are a few different possible sources, including;

  • Oil
  • Coolant/antifreeze
  • Power steering fluid/transmissions fluid

If you want to work out for yourself where the leak is coming from, put down an old white sheet or some cardboard underneath your car. This will let you see the colour of the liquid as well as where the leak is on the car. If you regularly check your car’s fluid levels, you’ll also be able to see if there’s been a significant drop in any of them. Sometimes it can be hard to accurately identify the cause of a leak, so checking your levels will make it much easier to work out if you have a problem and how serious it is.

Once you have an idea of what’s leaking, you’re in a better position to fix it, either by buying a repair product or visiting a mechanic. Even if you go to a mechanic, being armed with information about what’s happening will help you, as you’ll be able to describe the symptoms better.

Oil is fairly easy to identify, the stains will be brown or black. Sometimes cars leak a few spots of oil and it can be nothing to worry about. If it’s a lot, or if it’s happening regularly and you’re having to top up your oil more than usual, you should get it looked at by a professional as soon as possible.

Power steering fluid leaks from near the front of the car and is usually a clear yellow or red colour. A similar looking fluid leaking from the middle of your car is probably transmission fluid, especially if your car is an automatic.  If you have a problem with these fluids you’ll often experience changes to how your steering or gear change feels, and you should take your car to a mechanic before it gets serious.

Highly coloured liquids (green, blue, orange, etc.) under your car will most likely be coolant/antifreeze, which can leak from areas like the radiator or hoses. It’s a very important fluid as it stops your car overheating or freezing. A good quality coolant also helps to protect against corrosion and extends the life of your car. A mechanic can repair or replace damaged or leaking parts for you, but this can be expensive, particularly if you have to replace something like a head gasket. It also means your car is off the road for a few days. Prestone Head Gasket and Engine Block Repair will seal any coolant/antifreeze leak and you can use it easily at home as it’s guaranteed for any car/coolant. It fixes leaks in minutes with no damaging effects.

You can then use Prestone Coolant/Antifreeze to top up your coolant levels – it mixes with any colour of coolant so it’s easy for you to add to the coolant already in the system. Prestone coolant protects any car, regardless of make or model, for up to 5 years or 150,000 miles.

Any ongoing leaks or problems should be reported to a mechanic, which is why it’s important that you regularly check levels of oil, coolant etc, and pay attention to how your car’s driving so you can spot things early and tell your mechanic what’s happening. Be aware of oil becoming thick and resembling ‘mayonnaise’ or white smoke coming out of the exhaust. Both of these are symptoms of a blown head gasket and may require a mechanic’s expert opinion.


Check out Prestone’s full UK range.