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What Fluid Is Red In a Car?

What Fluid Is Red In a Car?

Cars use lots of different fluids to keep everything running smoothly, but with so many fluids to keep track of, it’s hard to know what’s what when you see it. However, what fluid is red in a car?

There are a few different red fluids that your car uses, but if you see some red fluid leaking from your car, it is most likely power steering fluid or transmission fluid. However, in some cases, brake fluid and engine coolant can be red as well. 

When you’ve had a car for long enough, chances are you’ll eventually see every sort of colored fluid leaking out onto your driveway at some point. It can definitely be stressful to walk outside and find a new puddle of mystery fluid right under your car.

However, as soon as you know what the fluid is and where it came from, you’ll know just how severe of an issue the leak is as well as exactly what you’ll need to do to get it fixed.

What Fluids Are Red In A Car?

There are a few different fluids in your car that are red. Some of them, like power steering fluid and transmission fluid, are pretty much always red, while others, like brake fluid and coolant, can be red but vary in color depending on a variety of different factors.

Power Steering Fluid 

Power steering fluid, as the name entails, is the hydraulic fluid used in the power steering system that allows you to turn the wheel and steer the car with little to no effort.

Power steering fluid usually starts out as red when it is new, however, it does get continuously more brown as it gets older.

However, power steering fluid isn’t the most likely culprit to leave a big red puddle in your garage. While power steering fluid leaks are quite common as cars get older, they usually happen while the car is being driven, making it difficult to notice when it starts to happen for the first time.
Power Steering Fluid 

Still, if you notice steering, especially at low speeds, starting to become more difficult, this is red fluid you are running low on.

But just to be sure, the power steering fluid reservoir is usually yellow or white with a black cap and located near the engine, making it easy to check if fluid levels have dropped.

This is the first thing that you should do if you think that your car might be leaking power steering fluid. If you check your car’s power steering fluid level and find that it is low, you should try to get your car into an auto repair garage as quickly as possible. 

While a small power steering fluid leak caught early may not lead to immediate damage to the vehicle, if left unchecked a small leak usually becomes a big one.

If power steering fluid levels drop too low for too long, you’ll be risking some serious and expensive damage to your car.

However, it is worth noting that not all cars have power steering fluid. You should check your car’s manual to be sure your car doesn’t have an electric power steering system.

A growing number of new cars are being produced with EPS systems which don’t have a need for any hydraulic fluids. 

But for the time being, most vehicles still have hydraulic power steering systems, and making sure that this red fluid doesn’t run out is integral to your car’s and your wallet’s well-being.

Transmission Fluid 

Transmission fluid is another red, or sometimes orange, fluid that your car uses to ensure it continues to run properly.

It makes sure all of the moving parts in the transmission are sufficiently lubricated and provides pressure to make all these parts work as they should. 

Transmission fluid can leak from a few different places, including the transmission pump, the lines, and the seals.

Because all of these parts are put under lots of pressure and are exposed to constant high temperatures and gradual wear and tear over time, transmission fluid leaks aren’t uncommon. 

If you find a red puddle on the ground below your car, it could very well be transmission fluid, but you can check if your transmission fluid levels have dropped by locating the transmission fluid dipstick which is normally found sticking out of the transaxle. 

If you notice that your car’s transmission fluids are low, you should get your car into an auto repair garage immediately.

Driving without sufficient transmission fluid can be incredibly dangerous, not to mention the amount of costly damage that can be done to your vehicle’s transmission. 

Brake Fluid

Another potentially red fluid that’s essential for your car to continue running properly is brake fluid. While many brake fluids are brown or clear, it isn’t uncommon for brake fluid to be red either.

Brake fluid is incredibly important as without it, your car’s brakes would not be able to function. Essentially brake fluid takes the pressure that you put on the brake pedal and uses it to apply force to the front and rear brakes of the vehicle.

Brake fluid leaks are usually pretty easy to spot as brake fluid can only leak out of a few different spots. If you notice a red, brown, or clear puddle right next to any of your tires, it’s almost certainly a brake fluid leak that’s to blame.

Another obvious sign that your brake fluid levels are getting low is if you notice that your vehicle is having trouble stopping. If your vehicle can’t come to a stop as quickly as it could before, your brake fluid levels are probably getting pretty low.

If you do think that your car is leaking brake fluid, you should again get your car into an auto repair shop as soon as possible.

Engine Coolant

The last fluid in your car that could potentially be red is the engine coolant. Engine coolant is a fluid that your car uses to regulate heat in the engine during extreme temperatures. This fluid comes in all sorts of different bright colors including blue, green, yellow, and of course, red. 

Engine coolant can leak from a variety of different places including the head gasket and radiator, and if your engine coolant levels get too low your engine could overheat causing costly damage in the process. 

Your car’s engine coolant is normally kept in a translucent container located directly behind the grill. If you notice your engine coolant levels are low and you suspect a leak is to blame, you should again get your car into an auto repair shop to avoid any further damage to your vehicle.

Key Takeaways To Red Fluid In Your Car

The most common red fluids in cars are power steering fluid and transmission fluid.

Brake fluid and engine coolant vary in color but can also be red.

If you notice that your vehicle is leaking a red fluid, you should take your vehicle to an auto repair grange as soon as possible to avoid any costly repairs.

Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!