Before we get to how to fix a coolant leak, let’s talk about why it is important to fix your leak quickly. If your car is leaking coolant, it will run normally until the coolant level gets too low. Once it is low, there will not be enough coolant to keep your engine at the normal operating temperature and the engine will over heat.
Fixing your coolant leak quickly will ensure your vehicle has the proper coolant level to stay cool and safe. Coolant leaks can come from a variety of places in your vehicle and where the leak is will dictate the best solution.
Possible Coolant Leak Locations:
- Heater core
- Head gasket
There are at least 4 hoses associated with the cooling system in your vehicle, but possibly many more. There will be a hose that carries coolant from the bottom of the radiator into the water pump and another hose that carries coolant from the top of the engine back to the radiator. There will also be hoses that carry coolant to and from the heater core, which is most likely located under your dashboard so the hoses will travel from the motor back to the firewall, or the rear of the engine bay. Overtime due to heat and age the ends of those hoses can become brittle and begin to crack where they are attached causing small leaks. In this case, the best thing to do is purchase a new hose and clamps and replace the broken hose.
The thermostat is usually on the top on the engine, but in cases, as in many Subaru's can be located on the bottom of the engine. It’s likely near the water pump and is closed in a housing that is near one of the hoses going to the radiator at the front of your vehicle. This housing is usually bolted on so that it can be easily removed if you need to replace the thermostat. It is possible that the thermostat housing can develop a leak where it is bolted together. In this case, consider replacing the thermostat housing gasket. Since you already will have it apart, consider replacing the thermostat as well since it is a relatively inexpensive part.
As discussed above, your heater core is located under your dashboard near the cabin ventilation fan. Warm coolant from your engine is pumped through the heater core, then your cabin ventilation system uses that to heat the air in the cabin of your vehicle. If the heater core is leaking you will find coolant on the floorboards of your vehicle, most likely on the passenger side. Removing the heater core can be an expensive and tedious job requiring the removal of a significant portion of the interior of your vehicle.
Since your radiator is in the front of your vehicle and a relatively fragile piece of equipment it is no unusual for it to get holes from rocks or road debris.
You can tell if you have an external coolant leak from your head gasket if you discover coolant leaking from bellow your exhaust or intake,(we also have a whole post dedicated to other blown head gasket symptoms). External head gasket leaks must be sealed very quickly as they will expand overtime if they are left untreated.
Common Car AC System Problems You Should Check For
1. Is The Air Cooling?
Your car’s AC system may not be cooling for many reasons, but some of the most frequent causes are:
• Low Refrigerant level – did you know it diminishes by 15% each year?
• Broken condenser
• Compressor has cracked or damaged belt, defective clutch, inactive pressure switches or idle valves
2. Do You Hear A Strange Noise?
Noise usually comes from a dying compressor, but some other common causes can be a cross-contaminated refrigerant or the use of the wrong lubricant. Holes or other broken parts could also be the source of the problem.
3. Does It Feel Moist Inside The Vehicle?
The common cause for moist air inside your car is usually moisture or debris trapped inside your air conditioning system.
4. Does The Air Smell?
When your car’s air conditioning system has not been used for a while (especially during the winter season), microorganisms such as bacteria and fungus can begin to populate and produce a foul smell.
5. Is Something Leaking?
Watch for leaks coming from your AC system since leaking refrigerant is a dangerous chemical that can harm the environment as well as your car’s engine.
How To Regularly Maintain Your Car’s AC System
Detection and repair of any issue in your car’s air conditioning system could prevent additional damage that will in turn save you time and money.
To maintain your AC system:
Check the air conditioning compressor belt for cracks and damage on a regular basis
Watch for any leaks or damage in the air conditioning system
Regularly check the function of the air conditioning system and other components
Empty out the refrigerant from the system
Do a vacuum test on the air conditioning system
Recharge your car’s air conditioning system by using the right refrigerant type and quantity as specified by the manufacturer
Perform regular service on air conditioning system components including the compressor, condenser, evaporator, and electrical controls