If you"ve noticed an odd, sweet smell coming from your vehicle after you shut the engine off you could have actually an antifreeze leak. Antifreeze plays an essential part in maintaining your engine running effectively, so it"s essential to recognize if it"s leaking.

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If your automobile is leaking antifreeze, the difficulty needs to be repaired promptly, prior to it reasons much bigger, even more costly problems.

In spite of its name, antifreeze does more than simply save your vehicle"s radiator from freezing up in winter. It"s component of your vehicle"s cooling system, which controls the engine"s temperature so that it runs properly and also does not overwarmth.

Your engine"s radiator is actually filled via what"s referred to as coolant, a 50-50 mix of antifreeze and also water. A pump on the engine circulates the coolant through the radiator, engine, and also heater and also keeps your engine running at the correct temperature—and not overheating—regardmuch less of the external temperature. If an engine is low on coolant, it have the right to run also hot, which will hurt both performance and also fuel economic situation. Worse yet, your engine deserve to overwarm, sustaining expensive and also possibly terminal damage.


If your car is shedding coolant, you should recognize wright here it’s leaking from and exactly how quick it’s leaking—and also then resolve it or obtain it fixed. The engine"s cooling device is facility and also has actually many type of parts. A coolant leak could be as cheap and basic to repair as tightening a loose clamp on among the system"s a number of hoses—something you have the right to execute yourself. Or it can be as complicated and expensive to repair as replacing a damaged water pump. A major problem like that will need the skills of a technician to diagnose it and a shop full of tools to repair it.

Clues You Have an Antifreeze Leak


A sweet aroma that you notification from exterior the automobile, coming from the car after you"ve thrust it. You might be able to smell it from behind the wheel as well. Puddles under the automobile of lime-green, oselection, pink, or blue-green after you"ve parked. Antifreeze machines use those dye colors to identify coolant from various other fluids offered in cars. Engine oil is gold or black (as soon as dirty), and also transmission liquid is dark red. The automobile starts running hot or overheating.

How to Locate a Leak

To discover a leak, initially drive the vehicle till it"s totally warmed up, then park it on a clean, dry area of pavement—a drivemeans if possible. Shut it off and also let it cool down. Caution: When the car is completely warmed up, the coolant is boiling warm and under push. Do not remove the recovery-tank cap or radiator cap prior to the engine has adequately cooled. They are located under the hood. The illustration listed below mirrors the place of the caps for the radiator and also the translucent plastic recoextremely tank. Most recoextremely tank caps are marked through a symbol equivalent to the one shown. Some cars do not have actually a radiator cap.


After the automobile sits for 15 minutes, look under it for a fresh puddle of antifreeze-colored liquid. If tright here is no puddle yet you smell the sweet aroma of antifreeze, kneel dvery own and shave the right to the vehicle"s underside and also view if you deserve to watch anypoint that"s wet or covered in dropallows. Note: air conditioning units regularly develop condensation that deserve to leak on to the ground, but what"s dripping from them is pure, clear water.If a small puddle or stain of coolant creates under the auto near the front of the vehicle lift the hood and also start looking in the engine bay. It"s likewise a great time to literally sniff about to view if you deserve to tell wright here the antifreeze smell could be coming from. Look for signs of coolant leakage—a light-colored residue or stain—about the radiator cap, on hoses throughout the engine compartment (check the ends where they are clamped to various other components) and on the radiator itself. If it looks prefer a hose is leaking close to a clamp, try tightening the clamp via a screwdriver. If you do not watch any kind of evident indications of leakage, scan the entire engine compartment; the leak can be coming from elsewhere under the hood. If the smell is stronger inside your car than exterior of it, the difficulty might be inside the heater. Heaters make use of a tiny radiator-like "core" to heat the cabin air. If the carpet is damp or the home windows seem to fog up conveniently, the heater core might be leaking. Heater-core leaks are difficult to locate and even harder to resolve because the heater is part of the air conditioning device, which is hidden behind the instrument panel. If that"s the case, unmuch less you"re great via wrenches see a technician.

If You Can"t Locate the Leak

Not finding the leak doesn"t mean you don"t have actually one. After the engine totally cools dvery own, inspect your vehicle"s coolant level by observing just how much liquid is in your vehicle"s coolant-recoextremely tank. The coolant-level indicator is on the side of the translucent plastic tank. Many tanks have clear minimum and also maximum marmonarchs. The coolant level need to be in between the "min" and "max" marqueens. If the tank is full, what you are smelling is probably not an antifreeze leak. If the tank"s level is listed below the minimum note or it"s dry, you"ve likely got a difficulty and it is time to consult an expert technician. They deserve to use a cooling-mechanism press tester to home in on the source of the leak.


Driving With an Antifreeze Leak

How lengthy deserve to you drive with an antifreeze leak? We recommend acquiring it solved as shortly as possible. Cooling system troubles do not get better by themselves and have the right to deterioprice fast. You don"t want to be stranded by the side of the road bereason you ignored the at an early stage indicators of an antifreeze leak.

If you"re the kind that pushes their luck and also you have actually a a minor (slow) coolant leak and also it"s summer, you have the right to likely drive for a few days by topping off the cooling mechanism via water whenever it gets low. It"s always best, yet, to refill a cooling device through the proper mix of antifreeze and water in a 50-50 ratio, specifically in winter. Level water sitting in an engine on a freezing winter night transforms to ice and also expands. That expansion might easily burst the radiator, break-up cooling system hoses, and also also crack the engine block or a cylinder head—which would ruin your engine. Antifreeze lowers the freezing suggest of the coolant to somewbelow about minus 35 levels F to save any kind of damages from happening. Again, it"s much much better to gain your car looked at as quickly as feasible to prevent even more major and also expensive engine damage.

Lastly, different cars call for various forms of antifreeze. There are three major types of antifreeze: older-style ethylene glycol (green dye); propylene glycol (oselection or yellow dye); and also the newest hybrid organic acid modern technology (yellow, green, pink, blue, violet, or orange). The different kinds can"t be combined. Refer to your owner"s hands-on or consult the dealer for the correct replacement form.

Important: Ethylene glycol antifreeze is highly toxic if ingested. Because of its sweet smell and also inoffensive taste, it is a major hazard for kids and also pets.

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