Drip under car caused by clutch or something else?

Hi, I was teaching my girlfriend to drive a stick shift last night and we ran into some difficulties when it came to getting the car in first while using the accelerator. Not long after I noticed a drip coming from the underside of the car but wasn’t quite sure if it was condensation or something else. The car is brand new with less than 200 miles on it. It’s a Fiat 500. My guess is the drip was just water and not something to worry about but I just wanted to check. She stalled only a few times (about 5) while using the accelerator so I sort of doubt the drip was caused by that but if there’s more info on this please let me know. Thanks!

Step #1 is to check–and if necessary, correct–all fluid levels, including the clutch master cylinder.
If there is nothing obviously wrong with fluid levels, then I would suggest that you drop by the Fiat dealership soon.

The car is fully warrantied, and unless abuse or neglect was involved, anything that is wrong will be covered by warranty. Don’t guess. Have the dealership take a look.

Exactly where on the car did the drip come from?

If it were me I’d take a white napkin or paper towel and dab at the fluid to see what color it is.

Since it is a new car, the most likely drip was from the AC condenser. What kind of climate are you in now? Were you running the AC during the driving lesson?

Defrost settings will run the air conditioning and could cause condensation drips from the evaporator core. This would be a water drip from the firewall area. The only thing you would really have to worry about damaging while teaching a new driver to drive a manual transmission is the clutch disc itself, unless you are trying to teach her to drive like a trucker (the statement about shifting into first while using the accelerator has me concerned about this. There is no need to teach a novice that kind of stuff. Just drive normally, use the clutch for shifting, and leave the synchro-shifting to the truckers). Main thing is, though, this is a new car with 200 miles on it. If you are worried about it, take it back to the dealership and have their service department look at it.

Thanks for all the postings folks!

mark9207 I’m pretty sure you nailed it on the head: The rear and front windshields had been getting foggy so we ran the defrost for a good long while as we drove the car around the lot. After seeing the drip I did some reading online and did find some stuff about how running a/c could cause a condensation drip to occur but, since I hadn’t been using a/c, I didn’t see how that applied in my context. From what you say it looks like running the defrost can cause the same type of drip as the a/c would have so I’m going to chalk it up to that one for now unless it continues. If other weirdness turns up I will definitely take it back in to the dealership but so far it’s actually been a really great car. Plus the dealership is about 50 miles away :wink:

Lastly, thanks again to everybody for all the help. This was my first post on CarTalk and I was very pleased with the response. I’ll definitely be sleeping easier tonight :slight_smile:

I ran into a similar problem in our church building. We have an air conditioning unit where the compressor is outdoors and the air handling unit is inside. I got a call that there was water leaking into the downstairs area and it was coming from a heater. Since we have hot water heat, I decided I had better take a look and figure out if we needed a plumber or our HVAC technician. It turned out that someone had turned on the air conditioning unit. The moist air had condensed on the plenum housing the evaportor coil and the ice was about half an inch thick. Someone else had turned the thermostat up and the unit went off. The leak was the ice melting off the plenum. I removed as much ice as I could, then ran the blower only to pull warm air through the plenum and dry things out. You were running your air conditioning compressor when you ran the system on defrost. If the windshield was fogging up, there was considerable moisture in the air. Your HVAC system in your Fiat was doing its job. I often find water on the garage floor under our cars under similar conditions.