Mechanics

FLUID LEAK

1999 Honda Accord • 70,000 miles

We accidentally dove over a high curb and the underside of the car was hit as we got on and off the curb. We now see a small puddle when we park under the front end of the car. What could this be? Is it safe to drive the remaining 100 miles home?


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Aval
August 5, 2013.



Can't see it from here. We should be asking YOU what's leaking and how fast. Have you checked the fluid levels? What color is the leaking fluid?

If it's a small puddle that continues leaking slowly when the engine is off, you may have hit the oil pan on the bottom of the engine. That type of leak will not speed up when the engine is running and you should be able to drive 100 miles at highway speed. You still should stop along the way and check the oil level. If it's just a little low, keep driving. If there's nothing on the dip stick, add a quart or two as necessary. Oil will be black on the ground. If the oil pressure warning light turns on or starts to flicker, turn the engine off immediately and coast to the side of the road to add a oil. With no oil pressure an engine can be seriously damaged in five seconds so don't try to drive further. If the light comes on again in five or ten miles, the leak is much faster when the engine is running and you'll want to have it looked at right away.

If the fluid is red it is automatic transmission fluid, assuming you have an automatic transmission. Usually that will leak faster with the engine running and with the transmission in gear. That's the time to check it. If a line to the cooler is leaking it will typically continue to leak for a few minutes after stopping the engine. Again, driving 100 miles depends on the speed of the leak. Buy a couple of quarts of the right type of fluid, and a long funnel, and take off for home. If you notice the engine speed suddenly increase with no increase in car speed, stop immediately and add a quart of fluid. Driving like that for even a little will cause the clutch plates to overheat and wear away.

Your best bet is to have someone peek underneath and see what is leaking. There's little chance it's power steering fluid since that is all up higher and hard to hit.

Caradiodoc
Aug 5, 2013.
Thank you for your prompt reply.

So we are looking at 3 possibilities: oil, transmission fluid and coolant?

The fluid did not appear to be oil. Overnight we did not drive the car and today there is NO drip or puddle under the car. Does that sound a little more optimistic?

We hope to take off for home tomorrow and will check the oil level before we leave- can a garage do a quick check of transmission and coolant fluid level -yes our Honda is automatic.

We do hope at home to have someone place it on a hoist but getting home is the priority !

Tiny
Aval
Aug 5, 2013.
To be not leaking with the engine off is less desirable. That means the engine is pressurizing whatever system is leaking and under pressure a liquid will leak out faster. I would stop in at any repair shop and ask to have a mechanic take a quick peek underneath. At the very nice family-owned Chrysler dealership I used to work for we had the owner's blessings to do things like that, even for non-customers. You won't get a detailed analysis for free but you will at least know which fluid is leaking, how serious it is, and if it is something that may get worse as you drive the car.

Caradiodoc
Aug 5, 2013.