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Having liquid on the ground after you stop your vehicle usually isn't great. The fluid is green. What does green fluid mean, and what should you do?

Vehicle leaks can be unnerving, especially if your vehicle is acting up. The fluid in your vehicle should stay in your vehicle, and is usually essential. So what does the green stuff mean?

Green fluid is normally antifreeze or coolant, though the color could also represent air conditioner fluid. You should check under the hood and find the antifreeze tank to see if its at least above the minimum line.

We'll talk you through what the colors mean, and when to know it is not antifreeze. We'll also let you know what you should check to see if the vehicle is still driveable.

We've worked on many cars before, and honestly had our fair share of problems with cars in the past. We'll help you safely get the help you need with your vehicle.

Table of Contents

What kind of car fluid is green?

In most cases, a green fluid dripping below your vehicle is a green color. While this can vary from car and year, especially amongst older cars, most antifreeze are green. Other common colors include red for transmission fluid, brown or black for oil, and sometimes blue for air conditioning. Note that sometimes air conditioning fluid can be green, though it is not especially.

How does antifreeze get on the ground?

Antifreeze is stored in the tank within your engine bay and is released as needed to cool the engine down. A leak means that there is either a hole in the tank or a gap somewhere in the hoses that transport coolant around your engine. The area around your vehicle should be dry and you don't want anything leaking!

Does coolant smell?

One of the easier identifiers of a coolant leak is the smell. Most engine coolants have ethylene glycol which smells sweet. You could either smell this inside the car, or if you get yourself low enough to sniff a puddle of fluid on the pavement.

Can I still drive my car with antifreeze leaking?

First, check under your hood for the antifreeze tank. The tank is most often white, but is “see through” and should have a “Min” and “Max” marker to show how much antifreeze is in the tank. If your antifreeze is in fact full, you might not have a leak at all, or it is something else like air conditioner fluid. If your air conditioner isn't blowing cold, that could be the culprit.

If you are leaking coolant, you are either going to want to not move your car, or take it very carefully. Your vehicle should have a temperature gauge that makes it clear if the vehicle is getting too hot. If you do move it, you'll want to watch that gauge slow. An overheating engine has the potential to be a major repair, if not outright replacement.

Can my vehicle tell me if I have a coolant leak?

Kind of. Your vehicle should give you a warning if it is getting too hot – which is one major symptom of having a coolant leak unless you are driving under seriously extreme conditions.

My coolant is leaking or below the minimum level. What should I do?

One of the first things you can try is to add coolant yourself. Be sure to find the right kind of coolant for your year, make, and model of vehicle to avoid having it attempt to handle and achieve the wrong temperatures. It is possible that the vehicle is simply having the coolant get absorbed, which isn't a great thing in itself. Another thing to make sure of is not to add too much, as coolant does expand. Fill up the max line only.

You could also just call a tow truck to bring the vehicle to your local shop, fix it yourself, or have a mechanic come to you. If you have car insurance with roadside assistance, the insurance company could send out a tow truck to you and have the vehicle taken elsewhere for your repair.

We suggest towing it if you don't know how to fix it yourself because it is hardly worth the risk of serious engine damage if the coolant leak is bad enough.

Is it possible to pour a liquid seal in there?

To us, no, not really. You have to be very careful about how you use “liquid patches” because they aren't technically permanent, even if they say they are and could cause problems in the future. If you have a leak, we would either suggest inspecting the coolant tank and hoses yourself for damage or having a mechanic replace the parts that need replacing.

How much does it cost to fix a coolant leak?

While it is difficult to say based on the make and model of the vehicle, we just suggest that the cost of repairing long-term damage to your engine while driving without coolant far exceeds fixing the problem before it gets worse!

What if the problem is actually the air conditioner?

Besides potentially having an odd smell and being a little more difficult for a mechanic to access, air conditioner fluids are not usually a big deal. An air conditioner fluid leaks often means you'll have weak or no air conditioning, but that shouldn't have a big impact on your vehicle's performance otherwise. We would just suggest dressing for the weather and maybe keeping a small fan in the car temporarily or driving with the windows down.

Green Fluid Leaking From Car (Should You Drive?)

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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