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Drip Diagnosis Dropcloth

So non-gearheads can easily tell what is leaking
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Fluids leaking out of your vehicle can be a sign of trouble. But not all of us are car maintenance experts, and depending on the surface below your car, it can sometimes be difficult to determine what fluid a given puddle is.

Further, not all drips are signs of problem. On an extremely hot day, some condensation from the air conditioner is normal and nothing to worry about.

This invention is a large white paper sheet, customized for the layout of your vehicle. When you park your car, you roll this out underneath, and line it up with the front bumper of the car.

Marked on the sheet are likely locations of drips from various points in the engine and undercarriage, and what they mean. On the edge of the sheet is a key to the colors of the various fluids in your vehicle.

If you notice a drip, roll this out underneath your car and leave overnight. Then you can pull it out the next day and consult the key to see what each drip might mean, and decide for yourself whether a trip to the shop is warranted. If you do need to go to the shop, you can arrive better informed.

"It is leaking transmission fluid from the rear end of the casing, so its probably the axle gasket. I think you'll find that's part number WX-764553, but let me know if you agree with my diagnosis."

Not only does this save unneeded trips to the shop, it helps you let your mechanic know you're serious about car maintenance and know what is going on.

krelnik, Feb 14 2004

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       Brilliant! But from your explaination, I assumed the sheet was as big as the car thus making it pretty hard to roll out under your car, unless you have very strong arms.

Could chemicals added to the sheet help to indicate what fluids were on the sheet? Sort of like litmus paper.
silverstormer, Feb 14 2004
  

       Yes, that might be a good enhancement, perhaps someone better versed in chemistry than I can comment.
krelnik, Feb 14 2004
  

       Let me know when you have a prototype.
spacecadet, Feb 14 2004
  

       Could we extend this to sound monitoring equipment that diagnoses engine, drivetrain, and suspension health ? Come to think of it, I might have seen this in the bakery already.   

       I learned to mechanic from a retired funny car racer, Randy Walls. He could diagnose car health from listening to them idle as they sat at the stoplight by our shop.   

       My brother and I like to play a game - when we see cars with misbehaving lighting, we attempt to diagnose the source of the problem as we drive behind them on the highway.
normzone, Feb 14 2004
  

       +. Good one.
oxen crossing, Feb 14 2004
  

       Yeah, I considered driving onto it but thought it would over-complicate it. Your solution might well work.
krelnik, Feb 15 2004
  

       Patent this now and sell it.   

       I think I'd prefer mine washable, or at least wipeable, rather than single use.
BunsenHoneydew, Feb 15 2004
  

       I'm not an automechanics expert, but--wouldn't it be a problem that most of the fluids are contained in hoses, etc. that could leak from any number of places? And that drips could also be deflected by other parts of the undercarriage so they wouldn't land directly under the source of the drip? It seems to me the source isn't precisely identifiable by the spot where it lands.   

       Still, I like your thinking. What about the chemical-sensitivity idea?
Etymon, Feb 15 2004
  

       Etymon, my thoughts exactly. Some sort of litmus tester grid.
RayfordSteele, Feb 15 2004
  

       //isn't precisely identifiable by the spot where it lands//
Absolutely, but most of the fluids do have distinct colors when seen against a clean background. Oil is brown, transmission and steering fluid are pinkish, coolant is bright green. Hence the color key on the edge of the sheet.
  

       I do like the litmus idea, but I have no idea whether its scientifically feasible.
krelnik, Feb 16 2004
  

       I just had an idea exactly like this. Love it.
shapu, May 11 2006
  
      
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