Mechanics

WHAT IS THE LIGHT BROWN FLUID (NO REAL SMELL), LEAKING FROM UNDER THE FRONT LEFT (PASSENGER) SIDE, OF MY ?

2008 Mazda Tribute • 38,000 miles

Have tried to research some online, and there appears to be a frequent problem, with the AC Condenser and Transmission Cooler. But not sure if this is the problem on mine. Cause I don't see reddish fluid, which I thought was the color of the fluid, associated with the transmission. But, if is the issue, can I drive it at all? Do I need to check fluids, before do so, or what? Just till I get it to a repair shop this week. Thanks!
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CraicCat66
January 9, 2012.



YOU ARE ALLOWED TO POST PICS!---MAYBE A CLOSE ONE AND ONE FURTHER BACK WITH COLORFUL "POINTER" POINTING AT IT

WHERE'S IT LOOK LIKE IT'S ORIGINATING FROM? PIC?

ALWAYS CHECK YOUR FLUIDS AT RECOMMENDED TIMES AND ALL THE TIME IF YOU ARE SCARED!

WHEN YOU ARE CHECKING---REALLY OBSERVE TO SEE IF SOMETHING IS BELOW THE CORRECT LEVEL--THIS MAY HELP IDENTIFY THE SYSTEM LEAKING

A PIECE OF WHITE PAPER SNATCHED OUT OF YOU PRINTER MAY HELP IDENTIFY THE FLUIDS COLOR.

ALONG WITH YOUR CHECKING SEE IF YOU HAVE WATER IN YOUR OIL OR OIL IN YOUR RADIATOR

THE MOST IMPORTANT SAFETY FLUIDS TO ME ARE POWER STEERING AND BRAKE FLUID----YOUR LIFE MAY DEPEND ON THEM MOST

YOUR CARS LIFE DEPENDS ON THE OTHERS. OTHER THAN BREAKING DOWN IN A DANGEROUS AREA

IF ALL SEEMS FINE, AND ALL OF YOUR CARS SYSTEMS WORK

DRIVE THAT PUPPY!

BUT MAYBE BE CONSERVATIVE AND CAREFUL DOING SO. LIKE NO TAILGATING OR RACING! TILL YOU FIND OUT THE ACTUAL PROBLEM

THE MEDIC


Tiny
CJ MEDEVAC
Jan 9, 2012.
Is this a right-hand drive vehicle? If so, power steering fluid could be leaking from the steering shaft seal. You would see the fluid level going down over time in the reservoir. It can also leak from either side from the accordion boots around the inner tie rod ends. Power steering fluid is clear when it's new on most cars but it usually turns dark after being hot. Some fluid is red but that makes it hard to differentiate from automatic transmission fluid.

How far you plan on driving depends on what's leaking, how fast it's leaking, and how far you have to go. If you lose enough transmission fluid, the clutch packs will start to slip leading to excessive wear and the potential for serious and expensive damage. If no slipping is occurring, I'd keep driving, especially if it's a slow leak. Transmission cooler lines often leak around the crimps where the rubber hoses are attached to the metal pipes, and when quick-connect fittings are used by the manufacturer. O-rings can shrink in cold weather and leak. Those leaks are usually so slow that they create a mess long before they cause other problems.

If power steering fluid is leaking, the potential exists to burn out the power steering pump from extended driving time with no lubrication, but you will lose power steering assist long before that happens. Here again, a small leak that could go on for weeks before the fluid all runs out can make a big mess. When the fluid is low enough, the pump will suck up air instead of fluid and cause a buzzing noise, especially when you turn the steering wheel.

There is oil circulating in the AC system but hardly enough to make a spot on the ground. If the refrigerant is leaking out, it will instantly vaporize and blow away. Usually that oil will cause a stain that makes a visual clue as to the location of the leak. Moisture is the deadly enemy when it mixes with refrigerant so there is a low-pressure cutoff switch to prevent the system from running in the AC or defrost modes. Running with low pressure could possibly cause the compressor to suck in outside air through that leak, along with the humidity in it. The low pressure cutout switch prevents that from happening. You can drive forever without the AC working. It simply won't run when the pressure in the system is low.

Engine oil could be leaking too. For that, you have to look for the highest spot on the engine you see it since it always runs down from the leak. It can be tricky to pinpoint the source because it can run along flanges and other parts before running down. Leaking valve covers are a common cause and an inexpensive repair.


Caradiodoc
Jan 9, 2012.
I am having this problem with my 2005 Mazda Tribute. That's left-hand drive, if anyone wonders. I thought it might be oil running down (well okay, slight drip)and took her to the neighborhood auto shop. They told me they could not see where it was coming from. I think they didn't want to look.

Not losing a lot, but should not be losing any. Is not BLACK; is brownish, not red-tinted. No discernable smell. Greasy on fingertips, but not visible as a smear or streak--like what you would see if it were baby oil. Add water, does not lift or reflect color spectrum like oil on a rain puddle.

My husband is *not* a handy person; I drove the other day and noticed brakes felt slightly spongy; checked master cylinder and it was down, but not below the fill line. Brakes feel fine after top off and driving.

ANY ideas? Even if it is "probably" safe to drive, I drive great distances and would hate to have an accident at midnight in the middle of nowhere without phone reception <--my luck.

No obvious place underneath to get a picture of.


Tiny
Herfathersdaughter
Aug 4, 2012.
Slight leaks are common on any car and can be real hard to pinpoint because normal vaporized fluids can also condense on the engine and look like leaks.

You should really start a new post rather than piggyback on this one. Only CJ MEDEVAC and I will get automated e-mails directing us back here. No one else will see your problem or have a chance to respond.

Also, you should never add brake fluid to the master cylinder except during service to the system. No conscientious mechanic will ever do that during an oil change and many customers think they got substandard service as a result. It is normal for the fluid level to go down as the disc brake pads wear. That is part of the self-adjusting feature of disc brakes. Later, when the pads are replaced, the pistons have to be pressed back into the calipers to make room for the new thicker pads and that is going to push a lot of fluid back up into the reservoir where it will spill over and make a mess. If the level has dropped a lot you either have a leak that requires immediate attention or it's getting about time for a brake inspection.

For a real slow leak, follow the fluid up to its highest point to try to find the source. If there are no spots on the ground where you park, the leak is so small it may be almost impossible to find. There's two things mechanics can do in that case. One is to add a small bottle of dark purple dye to the fluid that is suspected of leaking. After a sufficient period of time you search with a black light. The dye will show up as a bright yellow stain that you can follow back to the source. That works best for very small leaks. For bigger ones we often use a "smoke machine". That puts out a white non-toxic smoke at two pounds of pressure. You inject that into the oil dipstick tube, vacuum hoses, or anything else that is leaking and watch for where the smoke sneaks out. Two pounds of pressure isn't much so that doesn't work well for leaks in the pressurized part of the oiling system. It works better when the leak is in a non-pressurized area such as valve covers, oil pan, and things like that.


Caradiodoc
Aug 4, 2012.
Use dye to track it down. Start with the oil.U install it then u drive 500mi. Then u put a black light to find the leak. If no leak is found. Then do p/s sys.


Cadieman
Aug 4, 2012.
BRAKE FLUID COULD LEAK FROM JUST ABOUT ANY LINE IN WHICH THE FLUID TRAVELS THRU

USUALLY IF YOU MASTER CYLINDER'S FLUID LEVEL IS DOWN--THE FLUID WENT SOMEWHERE!

THE 1ST PLACE I WOULD LOOK IS ON THE BACKSIDE OF YOUR TIRES, USE A STRONG FLASHLIGHT AND LOOK FOR FLUID STREAKS SLUNG OUTWARD ON THE TIRE AND WHEEL

GENERALLY A WHEEL CYLINDER, CALIPER, AND HOSES LEAKING CLOSE TO THE WHEEL WILL LEAVE THESE STREAKS

OTHER THAN THAT, IT COULD LEAK ANYWHERE ELSE THE LINES RUN. YOU MIGHT FIND A NICE PERTTY "SPOTLESS" PARKING LOT, YOUR DRIVE (OR YOUR NEIGHBOR'S!) PARK YOUR RIG THERE, LEAVE IT RUNNING AND PUSH ON THE BRAKES A WHILE

TURN YOUR WHEELS "HARD" LEFT AND RIGHT SO YOU CAN SEE IN BEHIND THEM

LOOK FOR DRIPS, IF YOU SEE DRIPS, A LARGE HAND MIRROR AND THAT STRONG FLASHLIGHT MIGHT AID YOU IN LOCATING WHERE THE DRIPS ORIGINATE FROM (PIC--LOOKING AT THE TIMING MARKS ON MY '46 JEEP W/ WIFEY'S MIRROR)

BRAKE FLUID IS SORTA WATER SOLUBLE, WHEN I BLEED BRAKES AND IT GETS ALL OVER MY WHEELS AND DRIVEWAY, IT WASHES AWAY WITH THE GARDEN HOSE SPRAYER WITHOUT USING ANY KIND OF CLEANER.I'M KINDA BASING THAT IT IS BRAKE FLUID ON YOUR DESCRIPTION OF YOUR MYSTERIOUS FLUID'S REACTION WITH WATER

IF YOUR FLUID HAD NOT DROPPED WAY DOWN IN THE MASTER CYLINDER, TOPPING IT OFF MOST LIKELY DID NOT AFFECT THE PEDAL PERFORMANCE (MAY HAVE SEEMED THAT WAY)

CONSTANTLY PUMPING THE PEDAL MAY HAVE MADE THEM BETTER, AS YOU MIGHT HAVE AIR IN THE LINES FROM A LEAK

ONCE YOU GET THE LEAK REPAIRED, ADJUSTING AND BLEEDING THE SYSTEM MAY IMPROVE YOUR PEDAL

KEEP US POSTED ON YOUR PROGRESS

THE MEDIC


Tiny
CJ MEDEVAC
Aug 4, 2012.