I own a hatchback ford fiesta.

I took my car out for a drive today for 10 minutes and when I came back, I opened the hood and checked that the water in the water container was quite hot (not scorching, but able to put your finger in without getting burnt) even though it is winter.

I also noticed that the water was kind of brownish-reddish and also the lining just under the cap had this brownish-reddish kind of substance. it seemed like mud, but wasn't thick.

The car was last serviced a couple months ago, and the mechanic told me he drained the oil. I'm not sure about the water container though.

Does anybody have any idea why it is this colour? I was told (and saw online) that the issue may be that the radiator is 'dirty' and is the cause as to why this is happening.

Your assistance will be greatly appreciated.

  • Where do you live where today is winter? The southern hemisphere?
    – Mike Saull
    Jul 19, 2013 at 20:07
  • Please elaborate, was it coolant fluid or windscreen washer fluid?
    – Kromster
    Jul 22, 2013 at 9:55
  • Yes I'm in the southern hemisphere. It's the coolant fluid.
    – Joe
    Jul 22, 2013 at 22:15

1 Answer 1


First, I'd recommend not sticking your fingers in the coolant overflow when the car's been running for 10 minutes. It should be fairly warm (if not downright hot) at that point (even in the Winter).

Second, coolant comes in all different colors. Green, Red, Orange, etc. The color alone isn't that concerning. Even if it's brown, it could just have some Red and Green mixed (for example, it might have come with Red but someone used some Universal green to top it off at some point).

Third, residue on the cap doesn't mean a whole lot. There's normally some there on any car that's more than a year or 2 old.

Are you following the maintenance guidelines (in the owner's manual)? Normally an oil change will not do anything with the coolant. Coolant is good for a lot longer than oil...

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