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Leaking Red Substance

The passenger front floor on my Town & Country van is saturated with a redish substance. Also on the incline where you would rest your feet. Window not leaking, not spilled tea, no major smell. So anti-freeze or oil? Mechanic took a sample to dry out to see if it is oily-he’s not in today now. I’m guessing the whole van could be a fire hazard if it is oil? Not wanting to put my kids in it if it is a fire hazard? Any ideas?

Transmission fluid is usually a redish color.

Light a match, and see if it burns, that way you will know if its a fire hazard or not.

Since you have kids, it might be ketchup.

Other red liquids common to cars could be transmission fluid, or coolant.
Coolant doesn’t burn. Transmission fluid can burn, but there would need to be a pretty big fire before it will ignite, so not really much of a fire hazard.


Ketchup - funny - I don’t think so. Thats a lot of ketchup. Does not seem to burn so …anti-freeze? Does transmission fluid ignite?

What color is your coolant/anti-freeze? Your heater core or a heater core hose may have sprung a leak.

Does it smell like anti-freeze?

Either transmission fluid or power steering fluid, although coolant is a possibility. You should check the levels of each for a clue. None of these is a fire hazard, so you may continue to drive until repairs are made. And repair you must, lest your van suffer mechanical damage from low fluid levels.

I wonder if it is UV dye for the AC system. I cannot say for sure if I ever saw a red color AC dye. Have him give a look with a black light and see if it reacts strongly to the black light. This test is not conclusive as other products will react to UV lighting, but if it is AC dye the reaction will be very strong.

Again: What color is your Anti-Freeze

My vote is for A/C refrigerant dye.

Use your thumb and index finger, wet them in it, and see if they’re really slippery.

If it just feels wet, then anti-freeze. If it’s really slick, then oil. Now verify it…


Open the hood open. Take the cap off of the overflow reservior. There will be a couple, one for your windshield washer and one for your anti-freeze overflow. There should be a picture on the cap telling them apart. Get your index finger wet in the anti-freeze one, and see if it feels the same as the red stuff inside.

Lots of cars are now using a pink anti-freeze. My 01 VW has it, so does my 04 Toyota. They call it a “permanent” fluid. I call it crap, and change it every 2 years anyway, but that’s me.


Heading out to look under the hood to see what color the anti-freeze is. Has not seemed super slippery.

They call it a “permanent” fluid. I call it crap, and change it
every 2 years anyway, but that’s me.

The term “permanent” has nothing to do with how often it should be changed. The “permanent” term got applied to antifreeze years ago when it changed from being methanol based to ethylene based.

The methanol based antifreeze would evaporate, requiring frequent replenishment to prevent freezing of your engine. In today’s “permanent” ethylene based products, the freeze protection remains the same regardless of how long you keep it in the cooling system.

Aha. I think it is the transmission fluid. Anti-freeze does not seem pink. Checked the oil - that was good. Checked the transmission fluid - and it was the pinkish color. There was also pink/red splattered on the battery and another deal. Transmission did not seem low though. There is a lot of whatever it is in the carpet. I think we have cracked the case. The mechanic should be back tomorrow - he can take it from there. Thank you my car talk friends!

Since the fluid is on the passenger’s side of the car, it is probably the power steering fluid, which is why the transmission fluid level does not appear to be low.

Power steering fluid is typically the exact same color as transmission fluid, if not the exact same fluid.