Light brown viscous liquid pool under my Toyota Camry

I have a 2003 Toyota Camry LE that I recently took in for service (oil change). The car has about 95000 miles on it. After I drove it home and used it I now see a small pool of a light brown viscous liquid under the car. The liquid is not odorless. Its got what I can only describe as a 'chemically’smell. The drip is happening near the front end of the car. What could this be? Is this something that needs immediate fixing? Am I putting my family as risk if I don’t attend to this right away?

Pull your engine oil dipstick and smell that. Is it the same liquid?

Does it feel slippery like oil? Or by viscous do you mean gel-like?

Probably not putting your family at risk, unless toasting your engine on a drive is risky. Call the oil change place explain the situation and have them come take a look at the car as you may fear ruining the engine because of potential oil loss.

Sounds like an oil leak. Keep an eye on the level. Take it to a trusted mechanic. More than likely a valve cover seal.

Sounds like oil. Recent oil change? Likely the oil drain plug seal was left off or damaged and now she’s a leakin’.

Check you oil level right now. Return to the oil change place and insist they replace the seal if there is even one drip from the drain plug. If it is a quicky-lube place, they will try to simply tighten it to stop the leak. Without a gasket, they will tighten until they strip the plug or the pan. Insist, and offer to pay for it, you’ll be glad you did if that is indeed the case.

Don’t go back to a quickie-lube place.

“More than likely a valve cover seal.”

That must one heck of a leaky valve cover seal, if it’s leaving a large puddle on the ground

Since this happened right after the oil change, I’d say it’s probably not the valve cover gasket, and is directly related to the oil change

“I now see a small pool of a light brown viscous liquid under the car.”

I understand that to mean, that the leak wasn’t present before the oil change

In any case, it’s interesting that one guy sees it one way, and I see it differently

Sounds like they either failed to tighten or stripped the drain plug, or perhaps failed to properly tighten the oil filter or even installed it without its gasket… or perhaps over the old filter gasket (sometimes they stay stuck to the engine when the filter is removed)?

I strongly recommend not driving the car until the leak is corrected. If the drain plug isn’t properly secured, it could fall out and the engine suddenly drain… and totally self-destruct. Yes, it really happens that way, to too many drivers. It isn’t worth the risk.

And, if you used a quickie lube, don’t do so again. They don’t train the kids enough or give them time to do the job right.

"More than likely a valve cover seal."

That must one heck of a leaky valve cover seal, if it’s leaving a large puddle on the ground

Valve cover gaskets usually only leak when the engine is running. And it has to drip down a hot engine…so it’s very rare the oil will ever hit the ground.

Could also be tranny fluid.

Take it to a mechanic to determine where the leak is. Check all your fluids before you drive it anywhere.

@MikeInNH If you read my post carefully, you’ll see that I didn’t actually agree with the valve cover gasket theory

No offense to @knfenimore

@MikeInNH If you read my post carefully, you'll see that I didn't actually agree with the valve cover gasket theory

Yes I did…I was just agreeing with you and explaining further why I don’t think it could be the valve cover gasket.

@MikeInNH Thanks for the update


On a less catastrophic note, it might be oil dripping off the suspension. May cars have the oil filter above the lower control arm. Oil drips from the filter connection and is often not cleaned up after the oil change. Check the top of the lower control arm and see if it is wet with oil.

Compressor Oil (Usually Fairly Clear) Is Another Possibility. I Have Seen Receiver/Driers, Lines, Seals, And Condensers Let Go And Leave A Little Puddle.


Was this a one time occurance? If so @jtsanders may be right.