If you return to the parking lot to find a puddle of fluid seemingly leaking from your vehicle, it’s not necessarily a cause for terrible panic. There are several things that could be going on with your car that’s causing fluid leakage, not all of them necessarily the sign of a failing transmission — or even a cause for immediate car repair at all.
One of the easiest ways to determine what’s leaking out of your car is the color of the liquid. That might be hard to tell on a paved surface, so try to lift some using a piece of paper or catch it dripping with a cup. Then use this color guide to figure out what might be the problem.
Green: A bright green liquid means leaking coolant or antifreeze. While it’s not an immediate threat to the functioning of your car, it is worth getting fixed — the stuff is highly toxic to wandering animals.
Clear: On a hot day when you’re running the air conditioner, water might condense on the underside of the car and dribble down while it’s parked. This is no need for concern.
Black: You can identify oil from its viscosity and sheen. Fresh oil might appear more brownish than black. If your car is leaking oil, get it to the shop ASAP — this could quickly cause engine damage.