How to Find the Source of a Coolant Leak Faster and More Accurately

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Coolant is vital to your engine. A mixture of coolant and water circulates through the engine to absorb heat. The water pump circulates it in a loop past the thermostat, through coolant hoses, to the radiator to be cooled by air movement and then takes it back through the engine. If your engine runs low or is completely out of coolant, the overheating that results can cause irreparable damage to your engine.

Always check the coolant each time you check your the oil level in your car. If you’ve started to notice the level dropping between check- ups, it’s time to find out where the leak is occurring. If there is a coolant leak, you may see a puddle under the car or start noticing a sweet smell coming from the engine compartment after a drive.

Part 1 of 1: Find the source of the coolant leak

Materials Needed

Step 1: Do a visual check of the radiator, hoses and around the engine. Your vehicle has an upper and lower radiator hose, heater hoses at the back of the engine connecting to the heater core, and probably a couple of other smaller hoses going to the intake manifold or throttle body area. If a visual inspection reveals nothing, move on to the tried and true method of using a pressure tester.

Step 2: Use a pressure tester. Attach the pressure tester in place of the radiator cap.

  • Tip: If you don’t have a pressure tester or want to purchase one, some chain auto part stores offer tool rentals.

  • Note: The radiator cap will have a pressure rating on it. When you apply pressure with the pressure tester, be sure not to exceed that pressure on the dial. Always apply pressure to the cooling system with the engine off.

Step 2: Check again for a leak. Once pressurized, do a visual check around the engine bay once again. Be sure to check all the hoses, radiator itself, and all the coolant hoses and temperature sensors on or around the intake manifold. You most likely will find the source of your leak now.

If you are not comfortable with performing this check on your own, you can get your coolant leak inspected by a certified professional from YourMechanic.


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Recent Coolant is leaking Inspection reviews

Excellent Rating


YourMechanic Coolant is leaking Inspection Service

Average Rating

4.8/5

Number of Reviews

1,137

Rating Summary
1,053
38
5
10
31
1,053
38
5
10
31

Victor

33 years of experience
97 reviews
Victor
33 years of experience
Ford Edge - Coolant is leaking - Albuquerque, New Mexico
Victor was very thorough and explained everything to me as he went along. He was patient when I didn't understand and took his time to ensure I had a clear picture about how my engine blew. Very friendly, nice and most important....knowledgeable. I would work with him again.
Toyota 4Runner - Coolant is leaking - Albuquerque, New Mexico
Very professional! My truck is running great!! Would definitely call on my mechanic again to fix little red. Awesome Experience... thank you Victor..

Chris

20 years of experience
1612 reviews
Chris
20 years of experience
Saab 9-3 - Coolant is leaking - San Juan Capistrano, California
I appreciated that Chris arrived earlier than appointment time. He was very knowledgeable, professional and personable and provided me with all the information I needed regarding what my car needed to fix the problem. I would highly recommend Chris!

Arturo

25 years of experience
35 reviews
Arturo
25 years of experience
Chevrolet Cruze - Coolant is leaking - San Diego, California
Very knowledgeable with the diagnostic . Friendly and trust he will do a great job on the car repairs.

Andrew

10 years of experience
23 reviews
Andrew
10 years of experience
BMW 323i - Coolant is leaking - Cape Coral, Florida
Andrew is knowledge and performed the diagnosis an presented proposal quickly. He worked to get parts lined up and scheduled the repair for tomorrow. Excellent experience.

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