Safe to drive a car with a leak?!

Hi all, my mom sent me an email, saying, “I noticed a leak under my car. Today, the spot is bigger. So tomorrow or Monday I will have the car towed to my mechanic to see what is wrong. I don’t think I want to drive it until I know what’s happening.”

I don’t know a lot about cars, or what the leak looks like, but I think it’s safe to drive to the shop. It would sure help to avoid the expense of a tow if possible. Any thoughts? Thanks!

“So tomorrow or Monday I will have the car towed”.

Isn’t this Thursday?


I’m guessing she wants to do it on a weekday, so she’ll shave it looked at tomorrow (Friday), or next Monday.

Since you don’t know what is leaking, don’t take a chance. If it is an oil leak and there is chance the car will lose its oil, atow is cheaper than an engine. If it is a transmission fluid leak, you don’t want to risk transmission damage. Pay for a tow–it is good insurance.

No. Have it towed.

A leak that gets bigger as the vehicle sits is not a vehicle you want to drive. This leak could be from the brake system or the cooling system and everything in between. So driving the vehicle can be a safety issue, or a damaging issue.


What she checked fluid levels first, and tops off anything that’s low. Then could you drive a few miles (probably less than 10)? Or still better off with a tow?

Without seeing it, there’s no way to know. Not worth the risk. Is there anyone that could look at it? And how big is the spot? 1"? 1’?

Does she have a neighbor who knows basic things about cars? Someone with basic knowledge could identify the fluid, check the levels and help her figure out whether to drive it or not. How far would she have to go to get to the shop? How much “bigger” is bigger? If it went from a dime to a half dollar it is probably no big deal. If it went from a half dollar to a pizza that is very bad.

Some year’s back, I had a colleague that had a 1981 Mercury of some sort. He had a noise in the engine and asked us if he should have it towed or it was o.k. to drive to the dealer. A couple of us advised him to have it towed and not take a chance. My colleague ignored our advice and attempted to drive it to the dealer. He didn’t make it–the engine blew. The problem was that this colleague followed the longest interval in the owner’s manual for oil changes, but was in fact, using the car under more severe conditions. The oil was sludge. Now whether the engine could have been saved was academic. However, he made certain that he did in the engine by attempting to drive the car to the dealer.

Thanks everybody. Maybe I can get Mom to check this thread and provide more details (living half the country away, it’s hard for me to be more specific). But unless she can do that, I’ll definitely advise her that I was wrong, and the tow is a good idea! Appreciate the help…