The red fluid leak probably comes from the transmission or hydraulic power steering system (they typically use a red fluid). In this case, it can come from a leak in the transmission pan, cooler, wire connector seal, output shaft seal, or cooler lines. Less often, it can be related to a power steering fluid leak.
Some vehicle fluids are red-colored. Therefore, they're easier to identify when leaking. Red fluid leaking from a vehicle usually comes from either the power steering system or the transmission. Note that responding to leaks quickly is essential. If fluids run dry, your vehicle will be at risk.
You use the steering and shifting systems to control your vehicle. If these systems are compromised, driving becomes dangerous. Any leaks in these systems create red puddles under the car and result in trouble turning or shifting gears.
Transmission fluid leaks happen more often. This is because this system has connections and seals prone to leaking. Plus, your transmission pan is at the bottom of your vehicle and is vulnerable to being damaged by objects on the road.
You might also hear your vehicle growl when you turn the steering wheel or a high-pitched noise while the engine is running.
The power steering system has a pump that runs hydraulic fluid to the power steering rack or gearbox through high-pressure hoses. When operating correctly, this system helps you steer. However, when a leak occurs and the fluid level gets low enough, these hoses will cave in, and the system will provide less steering assistance. Eventually, the fluid gets so low that there won't be enough power steering support.
You may also notice that the vehicle hesitates before going into gear and that the RPMs flare when shifting gears.
The transmission pan is attached to the bottom of the transmission body by a series of bolts and a rubber gasket. The transmission pan holds the transmission fluid so the sump can disperse it throughout the transmission. As the transmission pan is at the lowest point of the vehicle, it is vulnerable to hitting debris on the road. Also, leaks may be caused by a dented pan, even if the rubber gasket is still supple. Red transmission fluid may puddle up under your car if the pan leaks.
You may also notice the "transmission light" is on or hear a whining noise coming from the transmission.
Depending on the car model, the transmission cooler may be inside or in front of the radiator; the latter are commonly external. External transmission coolers can pick up road debris and develop leaks. Leaks can also occur due to road vibrations. Leaking transmission fluid typically appears on the ground before the vehicle.
You may smell burning oil or see a blackish-red fluid leaking from under the vehicle.
The wiring harness from the transmission's electrical system has to pass through the transmission body; a rubber O-ring seals these components. If it gets brittle or cracked due to age, fluid will leak out of the transmission and into the wiring harness connector, causing a short. This electrical disruption can cause erratic shifting and trigger the "check engine light."
You may also see red fluid under the vehicle or smell burning oil.
The transmission ultimately drives the output shaft, which is attached to the drive shaft. This is where the power in the gearbox connects with the vehicle's wheels. A rubber seal on the drive shaft prevents dirt from entering the transmission and transmission fluid from leaking out. However, the seal can rigidify and crack over time, allowing red fluid to leak on the drive shaft.
You may also see a blackish-red fluid leaking from under the vehicle or notice that the car shifts up or down at the wrong time.
The transmission cooler lines carry transmission fluid from the transmission to the transmission oil cooler to prevent overheating. The lines are made of rubber and are connected with rubber fittings and seals. All of these components can degrade and become brittle over time. If these hoses or seals start to leak, they spray oil out because these lines are under pressure. In addition, since these oil cooler lines are close to the exhaust system, this oil may spray onto the exhaust, creating a burning smell.
Explore the following typical inspection results that show a potential cause for the symptom and select the one you believe is similar to your vehicle's issue.
The proof image shows the leak of red oil causing a power steering loss.
A customer dropped off their car after noticing something wrong with its steering. They had first heard a loud growling noise when turning, which evolved into more rigid steering. Over time, it had gotten so bad that they needed two hands to turn the wheel.
On the test drive, the technician verified the power steering wasn't working, and the vehicle was tough to steer.
During the vehicle health inspection, the shop noticed the power steering fluid reservoir was completely dry. After raising the vehicle on a hoist, they found oil leaking from the power steering pressure hose.
The mechanic added power steering fluid to the reservoir, cleaned and dried the power steering hose, and had an assistant turn the steering wheel back and forth with the engine running.
The technician verified that the leak came from a high-pressure hose fitting connecting the power steering pump to the rack. This hose needed to be replaced.
Red fluid leaking from car. Brake fluid. Leaking brake fluid. Brake fluid leak. Cracked fluid lines. Coolant leak. Brown fluid. Clear fluid. Engine coolant. Motor oil.