Question about 1996 Volkswagen Jetta

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Oil leaking from under metal guard when it has set for a couple of days

I have an oil leak periodically when the vehicle has set for 2 or more days without running. It comes from under the metal guard that is bolted under the transmission housing. But the oil does not seem to be transmission fluid. Thanks, caravan7

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Dear Ernie, are you sure it's oil? Here's why I ask. I don't know if you ever found a solution to your answer, but the same thing happened to me this year with my Toyota Camry. I ruled out transmission fluid and Toyota coolant because both are red. Oil is typically brownish to dark brown - depending on your oil change cycle. I ruled out anything from an animal, because it didn't have that type of odor. So, I did some research and came across an excellent Toyota forum web-site that sounds EXTREMELY reliable concerning this problem. (I also bounced this question off of my brother-in-law who lives in Maine and sure enough, he's seen the same problem under his vehicles. btw: I believe most people don't notice this issue because they typically get into their vehicle, start it and take off. It's a sight that goes unnoticed by most people. But, when you do notice - perhaps moving the car a little and getting out - it causes concern because you "think" your vehicle is leaking some fluid.) I'm quite sure this response will help many others!!! And, this problem is not limited to Toyota's either, although it may be more typical with older vehicles that have been subjected to time, weather, salt, etc: Neon Lime Green yellow Fluid Leak Solved Rav 4 Club

Posted on Mar 20, 2015

  • John White
    John White Mar 21, 2015

    Go to YouTube.com and type in this search phrase: "Yellow Fluid Stain On Snow Under the Car - What Causes This?" to watch a video about this phenomenon!

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There are a number of possible fluids that you're seeing. The three below are the most likely (less likely is refrigerant oil - if your car has air conditioning and windshield washer fluid. It could be condensate if you have air conditioning and are using it- but that is simple water and would evaporate). The fluid you're seeing is probably leaking from a point above the guard and running down the side of the engine block and dripping on the guard - where it eventually pools and drips on the pavement.

Make sure the oil filler cover, dipsticks for oil and transmission fluid are secured properly.

You should check the current levels of motor oil, transmission fluid and coolant. This should be done on a level surface and in the case of coolant - only after the engine has cooled for a couple of hours if there is none visible in the reservoir. All of these fluids are difficult to identify just by looking at them on pavement. You should try blotting the stain on the pavement (or touching a drip with it on the underside of the car) with a white or light colored paper towel or napkin to see what color the fluid is. Coolant is available in different colors - either a yellow - green and pink. Transmission fluid is pinkish - red when new but turns more reddish - brown the longer it has been since it has been flushed & replaced. Motor oil starts out golden color, and quickly gets darker as it is exposed to heat from the engine and suspending of dirt particles, etc.

Aside of crawling around and looking under the car for the source of the leak, a trip to a Jiffy Lube (or similar service provider that either lifts the vehicle aloft or services the vehicle from a pit underneath) will be the easiest way to determine where the leak is - but you should tell the technician that you are finding puddles under you car in the driveway - do that he can actively look for it while working on the undercarriage of the car. Bringing your paper towel witht he stain on it will allow him to identify the fluid.

Posted on Nov 27, 2012

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Posted on Jan 02, 2017

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