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Vehicle Stains in the Driveway

Seeing stains of some sort on your driveway is not an immediate cause for concern. But, they should not be ignored either. Whenever you notice a stain under your vehicle, take a moment to determine what type of fluid it is. Doing so will help you prevent a problem. After all, vehicles rely on a variety of liquids to run efficiently. Having something leaking is often an early warning sign that action(s) should be taken.

Types of Vehicle Stains


One of the most commonly seen stains is an oil leak. Characterized by its dark brown color, and a smell similar to gasoline, an oil stain can indicate a serious problem. You should take your car to a mechanic, sooner rather than later. Do you park your vehicle in the same spot consistently? Then you may be able to narrow down the possible causes of the leak. If the leak is to the front or back of where your engine is, it is likely from the gaskets, valve covers, or oil pan.


This may be green, yellow, or pink and will feel like slimy water. It may also have a sweet smell. Coolant leaks are often caused by the radiator overflowing. However, they can also be due to having too much liquid in the car’s overflow tank, water pump, coolant hoses, or other lines. When checking these areas, first be sure your vehicle has been off long enough to have cooled down. Then you can remove the radiator cap.


If you notice a leak and it smells like gas, call your mechanic immediately. Do not drive your vehicle, as doing so can be dangerous. It takes very little to cause combustion, even a static electricity spark!

Brake Fluid

StainWhen recently added, this fluid is typically clear, amber, bluish, red, or greenish color. But if it has been a while since being topped off then it will range from light to dark brown- dependent on how old it is. It is a slippery fluid, as that is a contributor to how it works. You can check the brake fluid by looking at the reservoir, typically on the driver’s side, to see if there are any leaks. For many vehicles, you may need to have a mechanic do a more thorough inspection to find cracks or cuts in the line.

Transmission Fluid

Typically, a thinner liquid that is red or pink in tone, though if older it may be thick and rust/brown in color. If you note this type of stain, first check the fluid level. A transmission fluid leak is often a sign of broken seals, a damaged transmission pan or drain plug, a cracked fluid line, or a torque converter leak.

Power Steering

This slightly viscous, yellow fluid will have a mechanical smell. It is used to make turning easier. While not dangerous, leaking power steering will make driving more challenging.

Windshield Washer Fluid

This type of leak is identified by a slightly sweet smell or ammonia smell and usually ranges in color from blue, orange, pink or green. While a leaking windshield wiper reservoir will not affect how your vehicle drives, not being able to see clearly affects your safety.

Paying attention to leaks is a must. After all, you can often prevent a minor leak from becoming a big problem. Use products specially formulated to prolong the life of your vehicle. Check out The House of Syn for the full line of AMSOIL’s synthetic products. Taking time to check the various fluids, topping off or changing as needed, will go a long way to adding the life of your car.

So, the next time you see a stain in your driveway, don’t ignore it! Find out what caused it and make plans to have it repaired.