Checking Your Cooling System Leaks


When you find a leak in your engine’s cooling system, you must decide whether or not to handle it yourself or take it to some professional. The subsequent sections cover the different kinds of leaks and provide a few pointers to help you decide:

Radiator leaks: If the radiator is leaking badly, go to a reliable radiator shop. Do so when they say it’s cheaper to switch it than to repair it.

At the radiator shop, ask the radiator specialists the things they intend to do and request a written estimate before they are doing the work. If the estimate seems high, call another radiator shop, tell them what needs to be done, and ask for an estimate.

Leaks in the engine-block core plugs: Around the sides of some engine blocks are little circular depressions called core plugs or freeze plugs. If you see leaks or rusty streaks leading away from the core plugs on your engine block or signs that leaks from their website have dried, and you’ve been losing liquid lately, you may need to get the core plugs replaced. Your best option is to seek professional help about this one.

Check the core plugs on the sides of the engine block.

Check the core plugs on the sides of the engine block.

Internal leaks: Sometimes a leak right beneath the cylinder head can be the result of an ill-fitting head gasket or the reality that the bolts that contain the cylinder directly the engine block are too loose or too tight. You might damage the gasket in the event you don’t possess a torque wrench if you try to tighten these bolts yourself. The best thing to do is to get professional guidance here. If a mechanic has only to tighten the bolts, the cost should be minimal, whereas replacing your head gasket is far more expensive.

The head gasket lies between the cylinder head and also the engine block.

The head gasket lies involving the cylinder head and the engine block.

With today’s aluminum cylinder heads, it’s quite possible that your cylinder head may have small cracks that are allowing coolant to leak internally. Should this be the case, usually you’ll notice thick, white smoke from your tailpipe or engine oil that looks such as a mocha milkshake when you inspect the oil dipstick. Also, vehicles with automatic transmissions have a transmission cooler within the radiator that could leak. If it leaks, coolant mixes with all the transmission fluid, making the transmission fluid on the dipstick look like a strawberry milkshake. Both problems require specialist help.

Leaky water pump: Often, a water pump that’s about to break down sends out noisy warning signals then starts to leak before it fails completely. On some overhead cam engines, the water pump is behind the timing cover and it is driven with the timing belt, making inspection difficult. Leave those to a professional. You can check your pump by looking around it for leaks or signs of rust or corrosion across the seals in the event the water pump on your vehicle is visible.

The pump probably should be replaced if the pump is leaking in the front where it rotates with all the belt. In case the leak is around the gasket that lies between the water pump and the engine, you may be able to stop it by tightening the bolts that hold the water pump set up. If tightening the bolts doesn’t do the job, then you probably need a new pump.

Locating leaks by pressure-testing the cooling system: If you can’t locate the source of a leak plus your vehicle is regularly losing liquid from the cooling system, drive to your service station and get the attendants to pressure-try out your cooling system. The exam involves almost no time or labor, so a friendly technician may do the test free of charge. While you’re at it, have the technician pressure-test the radiator pressure cap as well.