I have a 4 year old, well loved Honda civic with only about 25K. It has been serviced nearly every 6 months. I just took it for a service a few weeks ago and today I noticed that it seemed to be leaking oil. Even more alarmingly, there is a "burn" mark on the hood. (see photos below) The paint is scorched in a small area. At first I thought something from the engine was heating that area from beneath. I had a look under the hood but couldn't find an obvious culprit and the underside of the hood seemed fairly undamaged.

I am not sure if the leak and the burn are related or if the burn is caused by something else that I hadn't noticed previously.

I plan to call the service station when they open on Monday, but any help/advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.


It seems that it is water. Not sure if it is harmless though. Have it booked for servicing tomorrow. But in the mean time, it happened again last night and I took a video of it. It was very hard to get underneath the car to have a better look or to trace it to the engine. I have put the video on youtube here for your interest.

Burn Mark

Under the hood

Underside of the hood

  • 1
    You might want to take a closer look at the paint: that could also be a spill of a nasty solvent on your hood. I agree with your inspection: there isn't an obvious burn under your hood.
    – Bob Cross
    Jul 7, 2012 at 18:37
  • Where is the oil leak in the engine compartment picture?
    – jp2code
    Jul 9, 2012 at 11:30
  • 1
    @jp2code The oil leak wasn't in the compartment. It was beneath the car. I am starting to think the two might be unrelated. I showed the pictures to a few guys at work who think the burn mark might be from Bat Poo.
    – Chaitanya
    Jul 9, 2012 at 12:57
  • Seen any UFOs hovering over that hood recently? Very curious burn mark for sure. I agree with @Bob, likely some kind of solvent spill and the inside of the hood appears to be OK from that picture. Jul 9, 2012 at 14:34

2 Answers 2


Based on the comments to the original question it sounds like two things have been established:

  1. The original hood blemish is likely from airborne dung or similar paint corrupting agent (yuck!).

  2. The puddle under the car may be water and, if so, I think there's a high likelihood that it's from the air conditioning condenser. Specifically, this is to be expected when the air conditioner is removing a lot of humidity from the air. The water gets dumped out beneath the car, spooking the operator who doesn't expect this as normal operation.

It would be a good idea to confirm that what you're dealing with is water and not some other critical fluid. Here's what I suggest:

  1. Take several large sheets of clean paper (e.g., butcher's paper).
  2. Lay the layers down under where you normally park before you drive in.
  3. Allow the drips to collect. If we're talking about air conditioning water, an hour is sufficient to collect plenty of water.
  4. Pull out the paper and examine.

You should now have a damp blotch in the middle of your paper layers. If you're dealing with water condensed from humid air, it will be essentially colorless and odorless. All other automotive fluids have some sort of color and a distinctive smell.

  • 1
    Yup. The mechanic said it was probably water and its harmless. The blemish was bat poo. He just washed it right off. After I drove home, I saw it dripping again. Put a clear cup underneath it to collect it and confirmed it was just water.
    – Chaitanya
    Jul 10, 2012 at 23:29
  • @Chaitanya, great! Glad to hear that it all worked out. Also, bat poo? Gross. ;-)
    – Bob Cross
    Jul 11, 2012 at 1:06

Have you considered that perhaps the oil leak is from another vehicle?

If it is, in fact, from your Honda, start from where the puddle of oil is on the ground and work your way up, in the direction that gravity falls.

Look for and locate the source of the oil drip.

Once the source of the drip is found, you should see a path that the oil is following to that spot. Follow that path up to the source of your leak.

If you come to something simple like a loose oil plug or oil filter, go ahead and tighten it up. If you are not very mechanical, an oil plug should be good and snug with a wrench and an oil filter should be hand tight (not wrench tight). If you get to a bearing, seal, or gasket, you would probably need to take the car in to a repair shop.

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    If you have a slow drip or a non-pristine floor, laying down several sheets of newspaper or butcher's paper can create a cleanish surface. Park that car over the sheets overnight, come back in the morning and follow the trail of gravity up from the center of the blotch on the paper.
    – Bob Cross
    Jul 9, 2012 at 17:22
  • @BobCross cross I have uploaded a video of the question with a video of the leak. It seems like it is water, but it's very hard to trace.
    – Chaitanya
    Jul 10, 2012 at 13:58
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    If it is water, it is most likely condensation from your air conditioner. This is normal and every vehicle with air conditioning does it when the AC is being used.
    – jp2code
    Jul 10, 2012 at 16:10

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