How to Tell if Your Car Has A Coolant Leak

Top Systems You’re Losing Engine Coolant

Engine Coolant is what keeps your vehicle cool and the entire cooling system can be quite complex on some vehicles. The engine coolant can actually cool the engine too much during certain times of the year so it is regulated with a radiator cooling fan and thermostat to keep it operating at the optimal temperature all times of the year. An overheating car is a nightmare for anyone and coolant leaks are one of the top causes for an overheating car. When the coolant level gets too low the level in the engine becomes low and the engine temp goes up rapidly. We decided to give you our top ways to tell if your engine is losing coolant and where to look.

  1. A Puddle under Your Vehicle- This seems to be the most obvious but there are some sure-fire signs your vehicle is dripping coolant out of the engine. If you see a puddle under your car first make sure it is actually engine coolant! During summer months your Air Conditioning in your vehicle will drain off condensation and the water runs out of a drain under the car. These drains are usually further back and more under the center where the the transmission is and not the engine bay. If the fluid is clear water, it’s probably that. Coolant leaks typically will show themselves on the ground after the vehicle has sat for some time and will be under the front bumper or directly under the engine. If you’re unsure try putting a drip pan under the car before parking overnight and see if there’s anything there in the morning. The fluid will be the same color as your engine coolant. Engine coolant colors are most commonly Green, Orange, or pink. You can also check your coolant reservoir to check the color.
  2. A warning Light in the Dash- Most modern cars has both a coolant temperature gauge and also a coolant level warning light. If the overflow or reservoir in the cooling system gets below a certain level it will turn the light on. This usually means your vehicle is leaking or using coolant. Once you fill the coolant check it regularly and if the light comes on quickly afterwards you surely have a major leak that needs attention. If the engine is running hot or overheating low coolant levels could cause this and means you may have a leak or a faulty thermostat or cooling fan.
  3. Rust or Discoloration or Wet Spots- During a normal maintenance you should do a visual check of your engine bay. If you see a rust colored powder or residue around any hose, water outlet, or on the radiator itself you probably have a coolant leak. The same goes for if you see any wet spots or drips around those areas. Early catches of slight leaks can save you from major engine damage or a roadside breakdown.
  4. A Sweet Smell- If you’re getting an odd “sweet” odor from your vehicle you may have a coolant leak and that smell is that of warm or hot engine coolant. If you’re only really smelling coolant when inside the vehicle you can turn the heat or A/C off and see if the smell goes away. If it doesn’t you may have a leaking or failing heater core. This core is a mini radiator for the cooling system that resides under the dash and can fail over time. If you’re smelling coolant when the car is parked or from the outside of the car when walking by (running or not), you probably have a coolant leak in the engine bay on either the engine itself or once of the ancillary cooling system parts.

So there you have it, the most common ways and causes of a coolant leak and how you can detect them at home. If you want to service or repair your coolant leak yourself you can find all of the tools and supplies to do the job right at

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