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Q: My car is overheating and has a radiator leak

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Yesterday on my way home from work about a half mile away from my house I noticed the car was smoking from under the hood, I pulled in my driveway and noticed I had a radiator leak. My heat is not working which leads me to believe I might need a water pump. I'm considering getting the car towed to a shop ( still runs and drives fine ) do you think I just need a radiator or a water pump or a thermostat ? Any input would be much appreciated ! Let me know if I can give you any more information that might help.

My car has 126000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

This can be caused by a number of things such as low coolant levels, a faulty thermostat, or a failing coolant fan switch. As you may know the coolant fan switch helps to maintain the proper coolant temperature by turning on and off at specific temperature thresholds. When this switch is not working properly, this can cause the fans to come on intermittently, all the time or sometimes not at all. When this happens you will notice a temperature spike and drop occasionally as the fan comes on and off.

When your thermostat is not working properly or is stuck closed, this will not allow the coolant to properly circulate through the engine, which may cause the engine temperature to fluctuate erratically or in some cases just remain hot.

Depending on the location of the water leak, this may also be the result of a failing water pump. You may notice a slight whining sound due to a loose water pump pulley, steam coming from the radiator (as you described) and the most obvious for most, the engine overheating.

If you want to avoid having your car towed to a shop, I would suggest having an expert from YourMechanic come to your home to diagnose your cooling system and make the necessary repairs. Best of luck.

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