Troubleshooting a Tesla Leak [Step-by-Step Guide]


tesla leak

Now that Tesla vehicles have been on the road for several years, some may wonder what unique problems these cars face, such as potential leaks, and how to troubleshoot them. All vehicles are prone to performance and service issues, however, Tesla vehicles differ greatly compared to their automotive counterparts in that they are all-electric. Therefore, Tesla vehicles are subject to unique problems when it comes to what can go wrong, and how such problems can be fixed.

So, what is a guide to troubleshooting a Tesla leak? Some Tesla owners have reported that their Tesla cars experience water and/or other fluid leaks. In order to assess whether such leaks warrant a trip to a service center or can be addressed by the individual owner, it’s important to troubleshoot the problem and take steps to determine the nature of the leak and its source.

Though Tesla vehicles require far less maintenance than traditional vehicles, they are not immune to all maintenance issues. Therefore, it’s important for Tesla owners to have an idea of how to troubleshoot such potential problems before they occur. No car owner wants to find a leak of any kind; yet, through understanding Tesla vehicles and how to troubleshoot a leak, step by step, you may be able to avoid taking your Tesla in to a service center.

Troubleshooting a Tesla Leak: Step-by-Step Guide

If you notice that your Tesla vehicle has a leak, troubleshooting is a good strategy before you rush to a service center for diagnostics and repair. Troubleshooting is simply the process in which someone diagnoses the source of a problem before addressing how to fix it. The process of troubleshooting begins with assessing the most general and/or obvious possible problem and then progresses by narrowing down to identify more specific issues.

Here is a step-by-step guide to troubleshooting a Tesla leak, which may save you the time and money it would take to bring your vehicle in to be assessed and/or repaired a the Tesla service center.

1. Determine the Nature of the Leak

Electric cars contain fewer fluids than their traditional automotive counterparts since they require no oil or gasoline. Therefore, determining the nature of a leak, as in which fluid is present, is a bit more straightforward when it comes to a Tesla vehicle, as there are fewer possibilities to consider. 

Here are the types of fluids in an electric car:

  1. Air Conditioning Water: As the vehicle’s air conditioner cools the cabin, it pulls humidity out of the air, and that moisture has to go somewhere. Teslas are designed to drain this excess water underneath the car. This is the most common fluid to ‘leak’ under a Tesla and it is perfectly normal.
  2. Coolant: Just like traditional vehicles, electric cars that have a thermal management system utilize coolant. Adding coolant is part of an electric vehicle’s regular maintenance schedule.
  3. Brake Fluid: Teslas, like all cars, utilize brake fluid as well, and it should be checked and replaced as per owner manual instructions.
  4. Windshield Fluid: Windshield fluid is also present in Tesla vehicles and should be added periodically. In addition, windshield fluid should be a winter blend in colder climates, so the freezing point is lowered during cold weather.

There may be other fluids present in Tesla vehicles. However, ideally, they would be sealed and not accessible.

2. Determine the Source of the Leak

If you are able to determine the nature of the leak, this can lead to troubleshooting the source of the leak and assessing whether it needs professional attention, service, or repair. For Tesla vehicles, the two most likely possibilities as far as leaking fluids would be coolant or brake fluid.

Air Conditioning Water

Excess water dripping underneath a Tesla is perfectly normal, especially on hot days when the air conditioner is working harder. To confirm that the leak is simply from your vehicles air conditioner, run your finger through the fluid on the ground and smell it. If the fluid has no scent, and is clear, then it is simply water from the air conditioner.

This is the best case scenario because it means nothing is broken, and everything is perfectly normal.

Coolant Leaks

Coolant, or antifreeze, is one of the most common leaks when it comes to cars. Though a coolant leak is not initially a serious problem, it should be fixed as soon as possible since this fluid is designed to regulate the temperature of a vehicle’s engine. If the source of the coolant leak is not determined and repaired, it can lead to the engine overheating and an incapacitated vehicle.

To determine if your Tesla is leaking coolant, look for a blue color in the fluid that has leaked underneath your Tesla. Coolant is a blue-ish color, and has a chemical smell.

Brake Fluid Leaks

Brake fluid is a far less common leak than coolant, yet it can result in serious consequences. Brake fluid is generally clear or yellowish in color, has a medium thickness, and a slight oily feel to it. If you see fluid of this nature under your car, it’s essential to have it checked immediately. 

In fact, if you suspect your Tesla is leaking brake fluid, it’s best to have it towed to a company service provider rather than driving it there. This is important since a car’s brake system works on a hydraulic pressure system in which brake fluid serves as the hydraulic fluid that maintains that pressure. A brake fluid leak would cause a drop in pressure and potentially result in brake failure, making the vehicle hazardous to drive.

If your car is experiencing a brake fluid leak, the source would be the braking system, and the fluid would appear near the wheels of the vehicle or in the area directly under the brake pedal.

Windshield Fluid Leaks

Windshield fluid leaks are not common because there are very few parts to leak. Windshield wiper fluid is topped off under the front hood of Teslas, and the fluid only flows from the holding container to the windshield.

Windshield fluid can be different colors, but most commonly it is green or blue. This is similar to coolant color, so be cautious not to confuse the two. To determine if you have a windshield fluid leak, check the color of the leaking fluid, and see if the smell of the fluid matches the smell of inside of the fill cap under the front hood. Again, be sure to determine if it is windshield fluid or coolant, as they can look very similar.

3. Determine Action Needed to Address the Leak

Some car owners would assert that any fluid leak from a vehicle should be checked and treated by professional service providers with expertise when it comes to the make, model, operation, and performance of the car. Such professional service would be the best guarantee in providing any required maintenance or necessary repairs to the vehicle, as well as ensuring that any long-term or repeated issues are noted, recorded, and addressed.

However, taking a vehicle in to be unnecessarily checked by a service provider for a problem that could be determined by the owner at home can incur costs when it comes to both time and money. This is especially true with Tesla vehicles. Since the company is still considered by many to be at the startup level, there are far fewer service centers that can adequately service these all-electric vehicles compared to their traditional automotive counterparts—and general mechanics are not trained to work on Teslas.

This low supply to demand ratio for service adds up for the consumer in time spent finding and traveling to a Tesla service center, as well as the monetary cost of diagnosing the issue and servicing the vehicle.

Mobile Service

Fortunately, for Tesla owners, the company offers mobile service in order to eliminate the need for owners to bring their vehicles into a Tesla service provider. Tesla claims that 80% of repairs can be done to their vehicles outside of a service center and offers 100% mobile service coverage to their customers if the required service need can be met by a mobile technician. This means that in many cases, Tesla will cover mobile service so that a technician visits the owner, rather than the opposite.

When it comes to Tesla cars, there are ways to troubleshoot the nature and source of the leaks, which in turn can help determine the action needed to address them. The best course of action, once the vehicle owner has determined the nature and source of a leak, is to utilize the Mobile Service option.

Overall, troubleshooting your Tesla’s leak does not override the fact that action should be taken to have it professionally diagnosed and treated by a company service provider—whether it is through the mobile option or at a physical service center. Instead, taking the steps to troubleshoot a leak in a Tesla vehicle can assist owners in reporting the exact problem, saving time and potential cost as well as allowing Tesla drivers to develop a greater understanding of their vehicle’s performance and operation.

Why Is My Tesla Leaking Water?

One issue that Tesla owners face that they may be able to handle themselves without visiting a service center is leaking water. Tesla vehicles may leak water for various reasons, however by far the most common is air conditioning condensation, which is perfectly normal.

Water In Taillights

There have also been reports of water build-up behind the taillights in some Tesla vehicles. Again, this seems to be the result of design features that prevent consistent, standardized sealing of certain Tesla car parts.

If you find your Tesla has water leaking in the taillights, contact Tesla Mobile Service and they will replace the taillight free of charge under warranty. It’s a quick 10 minute appointment that’s done before you know it.

Air Conditioner Condensation

Often when car owners see what they believe is leaking water, it may not actually be a leak. The most common reason for the presence of water within or outside a vehicle is condensation, and this frequently results from the vehicle’s air conditioner. Many Tesla drivers in warm and humid climates experience water puddles under their vehicles after they have parked their cars for some time.

Though these water puddles may appear to be the result of leaks, they are often due to water condensation drips, and are perfectly normal.

Traditional, non-electric vehicles, don’t experience this amount of condensation since the air conditioner stops running as soon as the car motor is off.

Conclusion

When it comes to all-electric cars, such as Tesla vehicles that operate without any supplementary gasoline generator, they feature less maintenance when compared to traditional cars. This is due to the fact that there are fewer moving parts and a reduced number of fluids.

Though Tesla vehicles have fewer fluids than their traditional gasoline counterparts, they are still subject to leaks. For this reason, it’s essential that Tesla owners not only follow regular maintenance procedures but personally understand the operation of their vehicles and ways to troubleshoot issues such as leaking fluids. This way, Tesla drivers can ensure optimum performance when it comes to their vehicles and avoid any unnecessary and potentially expensive trips to their automotive service center.

Tesla vehicles are also known for their “smart” features, including the company’s ability for remote diagnostics and SmartAlerts. Tesla claims that 90% of the time, they can remotely diagnose an issue with their vehicles and what is needed to repair it. In addition, the SmartAlerts feature of Tesla vehicles is designed to communicate the needs of the car and can walk the owner through simple fixes or connect them to a service team.

These smart capabilities may cause Tesla owners to rely upon them exclusively for the well-being and performance of their cars. However, it’s rare for any computerized system to entirely take the place of human attention and decision making. Therefore, even though Tesla vehicles are equipped with these advanced features, it’s still best for their owners to share the responsibility of understanding their cars for the most beneficial performance.

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Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. My daily driver is a Tesla Model 3 Performance. I've learned a ton about Teslas from hands-on experience and this is the site where I share everything I've learned.

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