Engine components rely on a high-grade lubricating agent, an oily coating that helps rapidly moving parts slip past each other at great speed. Wear is reduced, friction is eliminated, and heat is transferred away from drive pistons by the slick fluid. As engine fluids go, this black “lube” is an essential part of a hard working mechanical system, as are other primary fluid systems, but what happens when leaking oil and fluids in automobiles throw off this fluid-derived balancing act?
A dreaded oily puddle is exposed to the daylight as a car pulls out, and the driver bites his lip in frustration. It’ll need to be cleaned up, but stop for a second and think about what’s going on here. An oil leak is an environmental hazard, a pollutant that will be washed into a drain and then into water supplies. And, if the effect on the environment isn’t bad enough, just imagine what it’s doing to the engine. The oil reservoir could go dry and cause a catastrophic engine failure. Finally, leaking oil could make contact with other parts of the engine. A hot metal surface causes smoke and an engine compartment fire results. Even if hot spots are avoided, the oil will inevitably find its way into and onto rubber parts and cause them to deteriorate, meaning rubber hoses and seals face a shortened lifespan.
Get into the habit of periodically checking the reservoirs located around the engine compartment, and head for the garage if any of these vital fluid containers are emptying suspiciously fast. Transmission fluid leaks, as one example, reduce engine performance and could leave a driver stranded when gears fail to change. Coolant leaks, on the other hand, are part water and part antifreeze, again a possible environmental hazard. But it’s the effects of a dangerously drained radiator that cause concern, especially in a performance-tuned auto. Quite simply, coolant leaks are responsible for engines running hot, and this rampant thermal event will quickly result in a cascade of failing systems unless the coolant system is repaired.
The various liquids housed in this mechanically powered compartment are like life blood, which means leaking oil and fluids in automobiles should never be ignored. Check the source of the black puddle under the car. Do those periodic fluid level tests, and take action if a leak is suspected.