Most likely dumbest question asked on the board: is it water, or is it brake fluid?

As the title suggests, I am aware that this will most likely be the dumbest question most of you will read on this board. However, I’m a worry wort, so please humor me. It has been a very cold, wet day here in Southeast Michigan. After sitting in the lot all afternoon, I walked past my 04 Escape tonight and noticed a wet spot under the back passenger wheel. The most likely explanation is that it is just water and I am making a mountain out of an ant hill. Being a worrier, though, I decided to stress myself out a bit. I grabbed a paper towel and dabbed a bit up, but didn’t notice any color. I rubbed my hand through it and it just felt wet. Finally, I climbed into the car and pumped the brakes, which responded normally and didn’t send the brake pedal to the floor. For my grand finale, I pooped the bonnet and checked the fluid levels, which looked about right. My instincts tell me that this is little more than moisture from today’s rain, either dripping off the car, or flowing down toward the drain. That said, my own stress and anxiety won’t let me relax until I ask. If this were a fluid leak, would there be any characteristics that would stand out? Would brake fluid react to the moisture in the lot from the rain (for example, would it look like a water mark, or would it bead when introduced to water?)? Thanks in advance!

You did what to the bonnet ? Sorry just could not pass that up.

Dab with a piece of paper and see if it dries when taken inside. If it doesn’t it’s brake fluid.

Will it dry if left on the pavement?

Dabbed with a bit of receipt paper, looks like it is more or less dry. Just water…I’m a moron. Thanks, everyone! :smile:

As long as the fluid level is correct, I wouldn’t worry too much. Check it again on the next dry day. Keep in mind that brake fluid damages many surfaces, for what that’s worth.

It’s not a dumb question. I’m glad to see that you pay close attention to your car. We get far too many people here who don’t, often leading to expensive repairs that could have been avoided.

As for being the dumbest question ever asked here , don’t worry about it , the competition is fierce .

You pooped your bonnet? Pretty.

Seriously, if you had a leak large enough to form a puddle while parked, when you pushed the pedal it would have sunk straight to the floor. The hydraulic pressure from your applying the brakes would have pushed the fluid right past the leak.

I commend you, however. You did the right thing in checking it out.

Oh, and believe me, you aren’t even in the “dumbest question asked” competition. We’ve entered you into the “smart enough to check it out” competition.

Oh god I didn’t even notice I put the extra o in “popped”. Fat fingers, mobile keyboard, etc :slight_smile:

I had a similar problem, I would get home from work, see a puddle under the front of my 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass and wonder what fluid it was. I would go in the house, drink a beer and then go investigate. By the time I got back to the car, there was no puddle. This went on for about a week. Whatever the fluid was, I decided I was fixing the problem by going in and drinking a beer. However, Mrs. Triedaq noticed the puddle one day when she rode home in the car and thought I should check it right away. It turned out that I had a bad fuel pump (that car had a carburetor and the fuel pump operated by the engine camshaft). that was leaking when I stopped the car. When I would go in and drink a beer, the gasoline would evaporate, so that when I checked things out, everything seemed o.k.

I get to ask a stupider question, first off probably condensation or rain drips. When was the last time you checked your oil level, a whole new world of oc for you!

That’s okay, Dobb, it made a hell of a funny visual…

When I encounter a “mystery” fluid I dab some on a finger and rub it with my thumb and index fingers. I give it a smell and if still in doubt a taste tests on the tip of the tongue. If the fluid is slippery and has any odor you can rule out water. If a worry about toxicity is involved find a plastic baggy to cover the fingers.

Checking fluid levels regularly is mandatory but it seems auto makrs don’t want anyone but a gorilla doing it. You need to do a " clean and jerk" just to get the hood up on my cars they weigh so much for some people. My wife could never open the hood. (Err, bonnet) I don’t know what the (.) car makers are thinking of when they make easy to read fluid canisters inaccessible to half the population. It’s no wonder there are fluid level questions…
Oh, but let’s use a dampened door for the glove box…good grief. They have their heads up their bonnets some times.

I decided I was fixing the problem by going in and drinking a beer.

I would very much appreciate it if there were more problems that could be fixed by going in and drinking a beer.

“As for being the dumbest question ever asked here , don’t worry about it , the competition is fierce .”

Amen to that.

Dag, you make an excellent point. Current crash test standards have manifested themselves as manufacturers making hoods out of high strength steel with high strength reinforcing structures to transmit forces through the hood and into the roof rails. Hoods today are heavy. You’d think manufacturers would somehow preload the hinges, like in the old days.

Hmmmmmmm… I wonder how hard it would be to install air struts?

That was quite the finale