One of the most common problems with a car is fluid leakage. Whether we are talking about a new or an old car, due to several factors, liquid puddles or spots may appear on the road, which warn us that something is wrong.
If we notice a large stain under the car, it most likely comes from coolant leakage. Because the coolant is thinner and more fluid than the oil, it will be lost through any crack, however small, that appears through any loose screws or unsealed hose. As a location, antifreeze stains will appear in front of the vehicle, just below the front bar, where the radiator is positioned.
Coolant stains dry relatively quickly, but if you check the vehicle constantly, they may be visible as blue, pink, or green leaks.
How much does it cost the coolant leak repair?
The coolant leak repair cost depends on some factors such as the damage done by the leak, the geographical location, and the place you are going to fix this problem – whether it is a chain shop or a local mechanic.
If you choose to go to a chain auto center in order to repair a coolant leak you will have to pay anywhere between $100 and $835, while a mechanic will charge anywhere between $165 and $910.
The so-called “coolant” is actually the liquid that cools the engine. It is good to know that there are also engines that have air cooling, they are common in motorcycles and less often in cars. The antifreeze goes through a closed circuit: from the engine, where it decreases the heat released by it to the radiator where it gives it to the environment, after which the cycle resumes. The circulation of the coolant is ensured by a pump.
The coolant is part of the car’s liquid cooling system which consists of an engine cooling radiator, radiator hoses, fan, thermostat, water pump, and expansion vessel.
Once the engine reaches a temperature of 185 degrees Fahrenheit, the thermostat valve opens for the coolant to flow to the radiator.
In general, the coolant remains in the expansion vessel over time, protecting the engine from frost, overheating, and corrosion.
The coolant is found in concentrated form, being diluted in proportions that vary depending on the machine, in distilled water when it is introduced into the cooling system. Contains glycol-based additives and substances.
Antifreeze also has an anti-deposition role, avoiding the creation of limestone formations that can reduce heat transfer.
Coolant leak repair overview
In order to fix a coolant leak the mechanic will follow the next steps:
First of all, he or she will inspect the car to determine the gravity of the damage and give you a price estimate.
After that, he or she will remove the coolant and repair or replace any car parts that are broken.
Finally, when everything is fixed, he or she will turn on the engine and take the car through a drive test to verify if the cooling system is working as it should.
The cooling system in your car is one of the most essential parts that help the engine function properly. A quick fix for any leaks or other malfunctions could save you hundreds in labor costs. So, it’s important that you bring your vehicle into an auto shop as soon as possible because if there is major damage then everything will need additional work and time spent which can lead to costing more money in the long run.
It could take only two hours to fix a minor coolant leak, while severe damage that requires the replacement of some parts of the cooling system could take a few days.
Important things to consider
It is important to stop driving your vehicle as soon you notice a coolant leak. The direct impact of this on the health and longevity of the car could be detrimental, so it’s best that we take care right away.
A coolant leak can happen at any time and to anyone who drives, but it is especially prevalent among new drivers. Small modifications that you make in your driving style may help reduce the number of times a leak occurs.
You should take care when it comes to how much you use your car, and if possible, avoid driving with a low coolant level. If there are any signs that the engine has been worked too hard then this can cause damage not only because of excessive heat but also due to lack of fluids which could lead to more expensive repairs down the line.
The coolant must be compatible with the materials the engine is made of, otherwise, it may damage the engine. If it contains inappropriate substances, it can destroy the circuit and the pump.
Usually, the coolant properties are lost in 2-3 years, reaching, in time, a decrease of the freezing point which favors the occurrence of some major issues.
Checking the freezing point of a coolant is not done after adding it to the expansion vessel because the result will not be conclusive, and checking the cooling level is not done with the engine running because there is a risk of severe burns.
If you notice that the level of coolant in the expansion vessel is visibly decreasing, it is necessary to check the entire circuit for potential incorrect sealing or cracking of the pipes that may damage the engine.
As coolant can be easily absorbed by the bloodstream through the skin, be careful when you want to add it to the cooling system. It is recommended to use a funnel specially dedicated for this process, with the help of which you will do a better job, without wasting the liquid. To protect yourself in case of splashes, you can wear disposable gloves.
If you buy coolant, it is good to keep in mind that it is available in different colors and that it is not good to mix different colors.
Drivers are often tempted to use tap water instead of coolant. This is not a solution, as water can cause various problems. Among these are leaks to the sealing system, the heavy cooling of the engine, and the lack of lubrication.
Signs of leaky coolant
There are some signs that will warn you that there is a coolant leak and you should take your car to a mechanic for a check-up such as:
A strong sweet smell: In general, coolant has a strong color and a sweet smell, so if you notice this smell after driving the car, this is a symptom of a coolant leak.
Puddles under the car: A strong sign for leaky coolant will be the puddles under the vehicle which have a similar color to the coolant. In fact, this is the reason it has such strong colors, to be easily distinguished from other types of vehicle fluids.
Overheating vehicle: If your car is overheating without an explanation, it could be a sign of a failing cooling system. You should start checking for leaks and replace any coolant that has been lost due to this problem before things get worse.
How to locate a coolant leak?
As we mentioned in the beginning, in most cases the coolant leaks can be easily noticed if they form a puddle under the front of the car. Though there are situations when this doesn’t happen and you must visually check the cooling system.
In order to do that you will have to let the engine fully cool down and look around it to see if there are any unusual coolant drops or wet patches.
If there isn’t any visual evidence, you will have to check every element of the cooling system, starting with the expansion tank and continuing with the hoses and the water pump.
Can I fix a coolant leak myself?
Small leaks can be fixed with a sealant, but it’s best not to use it a lot to avoid permanent damage. If you notice the leak is getting worse or there are other signs of malfunction such as puddles on your garage floor then it is recommended to take your vehicle in for service immediately.
The cooling system is a big component in the overall performance of your car. You should have it checked out regularly for any cracks or other issues that could affect its efficiency.