If you"ve noticed an odd, sweet odor coming native your car after you shut the engine off you might have one antifreeze leak. Antifreeze dram a crucial part in maintaining your engine to run properly, for this reason it"s crucial to understand if it"s leaking.

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If your auto is leaking antifreeze, the trouble needs to be repaired promptly, prior to it reasons much bigger, much more costly issues.

Despite that is name, antifreeze does more than simply keep her vehicle"s radiator from freezing up in winter. It"s part of her vehicle"s cooling system, which controls the engine"s temperature so the it runs properly and also doesn"t overheat.

Your engine"s radiator is actually filled v what"s dubbed coolant, a 50-50 mix the antifreeze and water. A pump ~ above the engine circulates the coolant v the radiator, engine, and heater and also keeps your engine running at the suitable temperature—and not overheating—regardless that the exterior temperature. If an engine is short on coolant, it can run too hot, which will certainly hurt both performance and fuel economy. Worse yet, her engine can overheat, sustaining expensive and also possibly terminal damage.


If your automobile is losing coolant, you need to identify where it’s leaking from and how fast it’s leaking—and then deal with it or acquire it fixed. The engine"s cooling system is complicated and has many parts. A coolant leak could be as cheap and an easy to repair as tightening a loosened clamp on one of the system"s number of hoses—something you have the right to do yourself. Or it have the right to be as complicated and expensive to repair together replacing a damaged water pump. A major problem prefer that will need the skills of a technician to diagnose it and a shop full of devices to repair it.

Clues You have an Antifreeze Leak


A sweet aroma the you an alert from outside the vehicle, comes from the automobile after you"ve driven it. Friend might have the ability to smell it from behind the wheel together well. Swimming pool under the auto of lime-green, orange, pink, or blue-green after ~ you"ve parked. Antifreeze devices use those dye colour to differentiate coolant from various other fluids offered in cars. Engine oil is gold or black color (when dirty), and also transmission liquid is dark red. The automobile starts running warm or overheating.

How to find a Leak

To find a leak, very first drive the vehicle until it"s totally warmed up, climate park it on a clean, dry ar of pavement—a driveway if possible. Shut the off and let it cool down. Caution: once the vehicle is completely warmed up, the coolant is boil hot and under pressure. Execute not remove the recovery-tank lid or radiator cap prior to the engine has adequately cooled. Lock are situated under the hood. The illustration below shows the ar of the caps for the radiator and the translucent plastic recovery tank. Many recovery tank cap are significant with a symbol similar to the one shown. Some cars carry out not have a radiator cap.


After the car sits because that 15 minutes, look at under it because that a new puddle that antifreeze-colored fluid. If there is no puddle but you smell the sweet aroma that antifreeze, kneel down and also scan the vehicle"s underside and see if you deserve to see noþeles that"s wet or spanned in droplets. Note: wait conditioning solution often kind condensation that can leak on to the ground, but what"s dripping from them is pure, clean water.If a little puddle or stain that coolant forms under the car near the prior of the car lift the hood and also start looking in the engine bay. It"s additionally a an excellent time to literally sniff around to view if you can tell wherein the antifreeze smell could be coming from. Watch for indications of coolant leakage—a light-colored residue or stain—around the radiator cap, top top hoses transparent the engine compartment (check the ends where they are clamped to various other components) and also on the radiator itself. If the looks prefer a hose is leaking near a clamp, try tightening the clamp v a screwdriver. If girlfriend don"t see any obvious indications of leakage, scan the entire engine compartment; the leak might be coming from somewhere else under the hood. If the smell is more powerful inside your automobile than outside of it, the problem can be inside the heater. Heaters make use of a small radiator-like "core" to warm the cabin air. If the carpet is damp or the windows seem come fog increase easily, the heater core can be leaking. Heater-core leaks are hard to locate and even harder come fix due to the fact that the heater is part of the air conditioning system, i m sorry is hidden behind the instrument panel. If that"s the case, unless you"re good with wrenches see a technician.

If girlfriend Can"t locate the Leak

Not finding the leak doesn"t median you don"t have actually one. After ~ the engine totally cools down, examine your vehicle"s coolant level through observing exactly how much fluid is in her vehicle"s coolant-recovery tank. The coolant-level indicator is top top the side of the translucent plastic tank. Many tanks have clear minimum and also maximum markings. The coolant level need to be between the "min" and also "max" markings. If the tank is full, what you space smelling is probably not one antifreeze leak. If the tank"s level is below the minimum note or it"s dry, you"ve likely acquired a problem and also it is time come consult an expert technician. They have the right to use a cooling-system press tester to house in top top the resource of the leak.


Driving through an Antifreeze Leak

How long can you drive v an antifreeze leak? we recommend getting it solved as soon as possible. Cooling system difficulties don"t get better by themselves and also can deteriorate fast. Girlfriend don"t desire to it is in stranded by the side of the road because you ignored the beforehand signs of one antifreeze leak.

If you"re the kind that pushes your luck and also you have actually a a boy (slow) coolant leak and also it"s summer, you have the right to likely journey for a few days by topping off the cooling device with water at any time it gets low. It"s always best, however, to refill a cooling system with the proper mix the antifreeze and also water in a 50-50 ratio, particularly in winter. Plain water sitting in an engine top top a freezing winter night transforms to ice and expands. That expansion can easily to explode the radiator, break-up cooling mechanism hoses, and even crack the engine block or a cylinder head—which would ruin your engine. Antifreeze lowers the freezing suggest of the coolant to somewhere roughly minus 35 levels F to keep any type of damage from happening. Again, it"s far much better to gain your auto looked at as soon as possible to prevent more serious and expensive engine damage.

Lastly, different cars need different types of antifreeze. There space three main varieties of antifreeze: older-style ethylene glycol (green dye); propylene glycol (orange or yellow dye); and also the newest hybrid organic acid modern technology (yellow, green, pink, blue, violet, or orange). The different varieties can"t be mixed. Refer to your owner"s hands-on or above the dealer for the correct replacement type.

Important: Ethylene glycol antifreeze is highly toxic if ingested. Due to the fact that of that sweet smell and also inoffensive taste, that is a serious risk for children and pets.

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