If you have a heavy duty truck that you use for work purposes or for off-roading fun, then you may place a lot of stress on the engine. This also means that the engine block likely becomes quite hot. This heat must be expelled with the assistance of the radiator. However, if the radiator is not working correctly, then your engine can very easily overheat. To avoid this issue, make sure to look for signs of leak and understand what an auto repair technician will do if a leak is suspected.
Signs Of a Coolant Leak
If you drive for at least 15 or 20 minutes and notice an odor that smells like burning marshmallows, then this is a sign that your radiator has developed a leak. Radiator fluid or antifreeze is typically made from ethylene glycol that both smells and tastes sweet. When this fluid leaks, it will drip onto the hot parts of the engine and burn off. This is what creates the sweet burning smell.
Leaks can come from a variety of places. You may have an actual leak in the radiator itself or there may be a hole in one of the hoses, the cylinder, or the intake manifold. To positively identify the leak, look for drips of orange, yellow, pink, blue, or green fluid that sit underneath the front part of your vehicle when as your car sits for some time. Also, look to see how much fluid is left in the coolant reservoir. Keep in mind that the reservoir will only be partially full when the engine is cool. This allows the fluid to expand as it becomes warm. Look for the line on the reservoir that says cool fill to judge coolant loss.
If you suspect a leak, then take your vehicle in to your car mechanic as soon as possible. The professional will check all coolant lines first to see if there are any rips or tears. In some cases, the rubber or metal lines may simply be loose. They will be tightened to fix the problem. If a hose is broken in some way, then it will be replaced.
If a hose is not damaged, then your mechanic will need to complete a pressure test to see if the cooling system loses pressure soon after coolant is added to the reservoir. If pressure drops, then the mechanic can add a leak detection dye to the system. This dye is one that glows under a UV light and can be seen clearly once it releases from a hole in the cooling system.
Once the leak is found, a repair plan will be outlined. If the radiator itself is leaking, then a replacement may be necessary. However, an automotive professional like Spring Suspension & Alignment Services may suggest the use of a leak sealing compound that can be inserted directly into your radiator. The sealant is not a permanent fix though, and a more substantial repair may be needed in the future.