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Car leak- Looks like oil

My car leaks a fluid that looks like oil, feels like oil (not old, black oil though) but smells like nothing. I don’t understand. I check ALL of my fluids every morning and before I drive it after it’s been sitting for a few hours and none of the levels are dropping. It’s usually just a few drops and comes from the front. Sometimes there will be a larger puddle, sometimes nothing. My car doesn’t do anything weird. The drops don’t come from one spot. I put cardboard under the front of it and there will be spots from all over the place. What should I do? I don’t want to tke it to a mechanic unless there IS a problem.

When you operate the AC water condenses and drips from the car. Could it be water you’re seeing? The drain from which the water drips is located on the firewall, near the front wheel on the passenger’s side.

I can’t think of anything that would drip from “all over the place.”

What kind of car do you drive?

What color is it exactly? There are other oily fluids in your car besides oil… Transmission fluid and power steering fluid for example. Unless the oil on your dipstick is old and black (in which case you should probably change it!), if your car is leaking oil, it will be the same color.

Try running your A/C until it starts dripping condensate, then see if the resulting puddle is the mystery fluid.

I drive a 1998 Chrysler Sebring JXi Convertible V6 2.5L. The color of the fluid is the same color of fresh motor oil. It’s thick like motor oil. However, it doesn’t smell like anything. Could it be power steering fluid? If so, how come my fluid levels aren’t going down? It is not water. I called my brother, who is a mechanic but he lives far away from me and he told me that this is a “real noodle scratcher.”

That Could Be The Compressor Oil From Your Car’s Air Conditioning System. The System Shouldn’t Leak Oil And It Is A Necessity To Prevent A Compressor Failure.

A receiver-dryer, line, or seal may have failed.


Are you checking the brake fluid level? Do you have an automatic or manual transmission? If manual, have you checked the clutch master cylinder for fluid level?

It could actually be fresh motor oil. If you had the oil changed lately, someone might have spilled motor oil down on the engine shroud and it is migrating to the edges where it drips off. That would explain why it seems to be coming from all over the place.

Let me add one more thing. Again if you had your oil changed recently, it is possible that the oil filter is not tight or it is double gasketed. That can throw a little oil in many directions. A small oil leak can take a while before the level starts to drop, and a little oil makes a surprising large puddle or a lot of drops.

If you did recently get the oil changed, you need to get that filter checked. If it is double gasketed, it can go from a very small leak to catastrophic in seconds. If it is loose, the same thing can happen, it just takes a few seconds longer, but not much. You sound like the type that does not need to be told that if the oil light comes on, stop driving and shut down the engine immediately or the engine will be ruined.

My vote is for power steering fluid. It looks like oil and doesn’t smell. Brake fluid would have an oder to it. Trans fluid would be red. Antifreeze would be watery. Only way is to crawl under it with a strong light and take a look or get it up on a lift. Collect a sample and it should be fairly easy for a mechanic to identify the fluid.

I didn’t have my oil changed recently at all, but when my car overheated a few weeks back I discovered there was no oil in it at all, so I filled it. That’s why the oil in it is fresh (I had to have my water pump replaced, I didn’t just put oil in it and leave it)

It doesn’t look like it’s the exact same color or consistency of my power steering fluid. The part that freaks me out the most is that my levels aren’t changing. Yes, I check the brake fluid. I check every single dipstick, reservoir, overflow tank…everything!

“but when my car overheated a few weeks back I discovered there was no oil in it at all, so I filled it.”

No oil or just low on oil? If it was indeed no oil, i would not worry about a few drips i would work on finding another car.

There was no oil in it during that time. It was between the beginning of february and the middle of June that all of the oil had somehow managed to disappear. There is oil in it now, and the level hasn’t changed, or if it has it is not noticeable. I just checked it again this morning before I left and again, all of my levels are exactly where they were last night and the night before. I mopped up the puddle with a white napkin and I compared the color to all of the fluids I was checking and it LOOKS like oil. It feels like oil, but it doesn’t smell like oil. I guess I’ll go in for an oil change tomorrow and bring the subject up to my mechanic…

If you had a leak bad enough to lose all the oil, that is certainly a problem that needs to be found. I would have a long look at the oil pressure sending unit. They will only push oil out when the engine is running and can dump a lot of oil in a hurry. When the engine is shut off, all you would have is the residual oil dripping from whatever got wet in the process.

What PvtPublic stated bears repeating:

If it was indeed no oil, I would not worry about a few drips. I would work on finding another car."

Based on what you have told us, that engine is toast.
Start looking for a replacement a.s.a.p.

When the engine overheated, did the oil light come on? If it didn’t, then you probably shut it down in time to save the engine, so it is probably OK.

You can have an oil leak bad enough to leave some drips every time you stop, but you won’t see the oil level drop overnight. It can take a couple of weeks before the level drops enough to be noticed. In a few months, it can drop below the level of the dipstick.

When it is below the level of the dipstick, it still has some oil in it. How much oil did it take to bring the oil level back to normal?

“I don’t understand.” “What should I do?” "I don’t want to tke it to a mechanic unless there IS a problem."
If The Car Is Leaking An Oily Substance And It’s Not Water From The Air Conditioner Then There Is A Problem.

Everybody is just taking wild guesses at what the oil substance could be. No offense, but Nothingworks doesn’t know Substance from Shinola when it comes to cars.

Find somebody at work or in the neighborhood who can explain the different fluids and how to properly check them. Make a list of all oils and fluids discussed here and talk about each one. Perhaps a nice person at Advance Auto, Auto Zone, etcetera, will help with this. All of these ideas are free.

Walk into the Auto Parts and ask which person is a mechanic. Chance are that the employees will all point to one individual. Most auto parts stores have at least one person who knows something. Some are moonlighting there and are actually mechanics.


I know how to check my fluids. I know what fluids look and feel like. I know all of that. My issue is that none of the levels are changing on the dipsticks on in the reservoirs in any of these fluids. Keith, you seem to have provided the most logical thing for my car right now. My check engine light didn’t come on when my car overheated, that was my water pump that broke. It took four quarts to get it back to normal, and I put a quart in it after that. This leak seriously could have always been there and I never noticed it before. I never looked under my car until all the coolant fell out. There are a lot of things I didn’t know about proper car maintenance. If the engine were “toast” he would have told me that. I guess I am mostly just panicked about the levels not changing in anything and the fact that it doesn’t smell like anything. Thanks to everyone for providing ideas for me to look into. I’ll take it in for an oil change tomorrow and just bring up the subject of the leak to my mechanic and see what he says.