If your vehicle is leaking antifreeze, do not ignore the problem. Sometimes, you can put off car maintenance for a few days or even a few weeks. However, an antifreeze leak is not one of those problems! It is vital that you have a professional take cake of any cooling system leak as soon as possible. Here at Kernersville Auto Center, we can help you diagnose and repair any coolant system leak.
What is Antifreeze?
Antifreeze is one of the many fluids your vehicle needs to operate properly. When coolant mixes with water (typically in a 50-50 ratio), it becomes “engine coolant” or simply “coolant.” This fluid helps your engine stay at a steady temperature.
The cooling system in your vehicle works to prevent your engine from overheating. As you drive, your engine heats up. A pump pushes coolant through the engine block, then out to the radiator. When it is in the engine, the liquid collects heat, and while in the radiator, the liquid cools. Essentially, this pulls heat away from the engine so it doesn’t overheat.
Water works really well to keep your engine cool, but it has a pretty high freezing point compared to other fluids. So, if you live here in North Carolina or many other locations in the United States, you have to worry about the water freezing during the winter. That’s where antifreeze comes in. By mixing coolant with water, it can withstand temperatures well below zero. Therefore, you can drive your car, even in the dead of winter.
Antifreeze is a glycol-based liquid and usually colored by manufacturers. Green and orange are the traditional colors and most common. Some manufacturers use pink/red, blue, yellow, or other coloring for antifreeze formulas with different additives. The coloring helps you distinguish it from water, since antifreeze is extremely poisonous. It also helps you tell the different antifreeze options apart from one another.
Coolant does have a secondary benefit, which is that it provides lubrication. This feature helps ward off corrosion. However, its main function is to keep your engine cool
Blown Head Gaskets – A Common Reason Your Car is Leaking Antifreeze
If you have a coolant leak, the first thing we’ll check is the head gasket. A blown head gasket can cause a number of problems with your cooling system. Never drive around with a blown head gasket. Come directly to our shop. Here are some signs that you have a blown head gasket:
- Your car’s dashboard indicates sub-par levels of cooling, even if you don’t see any fluids leaking.
- You check the oil and it has a milky color.
- White smoke is coming from the exhaust
- Your coolant levels drop, indicating a coolant loss, even though you don’t see any leaks under the car.
- There are bubbles in the radiator and coolant reservoir.
When in doubt, bring your vehicle in as quickly as possible. We’ll check the entire cooling system to figure out the problem. Head gaskets blow when the engine overheats, so sometimes there is an antifreeze leak elsewhere in the system that starts this chain reaction of events.
In addition to leaks, your coolant level may simply be too low, which can cause overheating. This can also happen if your engine oil levels are too low. Just because you don’t see any leaks under your car doesn’t mean you don’t have an internal leak.
A blown head gasket will cause the coolant and oil to mix together, which is what causes the oil to have a milky color. The fluids may also leak out of your car altogether. Either way, you’ll need an oil change once we repair the head gasket. We’ll flush out and replace the fluids in your car after we complete the repair.
Our experienced team of mechanics can also do routine oil changes as needed. Regular maintenance is the best way to prevent your engine from overheating. When you bring in your car for any service, we can check all fluid levels to ensure nothing is amiss.
Radiator Leaks can Cause Coolant Problems
If you do see a coolant leak under your car, it could be from a blown head gasket, but it could also be from a number of other problems. Typically, if the head gaskets look normal, the problem is in the radiator. Remember, the coolant cycles through the radiator to lose heat it collected in the engine.
Corrosion is the main cause of radiator fluid leaks. Although coolant does help prevent radiator corrosion, it can’t stop all leaks. If your fluid leak is minor, we can repair it. However, a major coolant leak in the radiator means that you may need a new radiator. Here are some maintenance tips to prevent leaking.
First, keep your coolant clean. Tiny particles of stone can get into your radiator and then into your coolant, which causes corrosion. You can prevent this by regularly flushing the system and adding clean coolant. It’s like an oil change for your cooling system. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend having your coolant system professionally flushed every 30,000 miles or five years. If you’re unsure, one of our mechanics can give you our recommendation for your specific make and model.
Next, make sure your coolant level is correct. Most people understand they need to add more coolant if the level is low. However, did you know that too much coolant can also be an issue? Too much coolant causes a build-up of pressure, and when the pressure is too high it can cause cracks or small holes.
Lastly, make sure your temperature gauge is working properly. As the coolant cycles through your vehicle, it passes a temperature gauge. When the coolant is hot enough, it goes to the radiator. If it is still below the temperature threshold, it cycles back to the coolant reservoir and through the engine again. If that temperature gauge is not working properly, the coolant could be going to the wrong place and the temperature could get too high. This also causes a build-up of pressure, which can in turn cause a leaking radiator.
Hose and Attachment Leaks Could Wreak Havoc
Although a mechanic can usually trace an antifreeze leak to the head gasket or radiator, sometimes the leak is in the hoses that move the coolant from one to the other. The leak could also be located near an attachment, i.e. points where the hoses connect to the rest of the system.
Flushing your coolant and ensuring proper coolant levels can help you prevent issues. However, as with all car parts, sometimes there is nothing you can do. Simply put, your vehicle’s parts need replacement over time as they wear out.
As you drive, your vehicle experiences extreme temperatures. This causes any material to break down over time. Regular maintenance can make parts last longer, but over time hot and cold temperature fluctuations cause hoses to become brittle.
We commonly see cracks in hoses, as well as loose hose clamps and rusty seals. These are generally easy to replace for a trained professional like the members of our team. Unlike a radiator leak, which a professional can usually repair, with hose issues it is typically better to simply replace. We can easily tighten a loose radiator hose clamp; but we’ll do a thorough inspection to make sure it is in good condition. If it will be loose again next week due to wear, it might be better to replace.
Can You Fix a Fluid Leak Yourself?
If your car is leaking antifreeze and you don’t have training on how to find the problem, we highly recommend having an experienced mechanic diagnose and fix the problem.
Never drive your car around without taking care of the problem. Your cooling system is extremely important. Without the proper coolant level, even a short drive could cause your engine to overheat and stop working. This chain reaction is much more difficult to fix than repairing a simple leak.
If you have a very small, slow leak, ensure your coolant is up to the normal level and drive your car to our shop. However, if you have a major leak such as hose that has burst, we recommend having your car towed. In other words, if your coolant will be low by the time you drive to our shop, it is better to have your car towed than to drive it even a short distance. If you’re not sure what to do, give us a call. One of our mechanics can make a recommendation about whether to drive your car in or have it towed.
Once we diagnose the problem, we’ll speak to you about solution options. If you aren’t familiar with the inner workings of your engine, don’t worry. Our team will explain the issue in easy-to-understand terms. This allows you to make the best decision possible for your vehicle.
Along with going over solution options and our recommendations, we’ll also go over the costs. We never want you to be surprised by the bill at the end of the job. We’ll work with you to ensure that your repair is within budget.
At-home solutions such as Stop Leak product options often do not work long-term. It depends on the size of the leak and the cause. These products can help you repair the problem long enough to drive to our shop. They are not a final solution in most cases. Think of them as a band-aid over a wound that really needs stitches. It might help you get to the hospital, but you still need to see a doctor.
Save Money at Kernersville Auto Center
We treat our customers fairly by helping you get back on the road without overcharging you. When you have a leaking radiator or blown head gasket, you are in dire need of help. We won’t take advantage of that. We’ll give you a fair price quote to help you get back on the road quickly.
You can save even more money by signing up for our rewards program. As a member of our loyalty club, you’ll earn 1 point for every dollar you spend. You can then redeem your points for the services you need, including car washes, oil changes, tune-ups, or any other repair. To learn more about the discounts you get just by being a loyal customer, sign up for the program here or ask about it on your next visit.
Remember, having a professional handle your car maintenance can help you save money in the long run. Untrained mechanics can miss simple solutions and cause damage to your car. Always hire a licensed professional when you have vehicle issues.
Our ASE-certified mechanics are always available to explain any issue your vehicle may have and provide you with options, so that you can make an informed decision. We never try to sell you the most expensive choice; we understand that everyone is working within a budget and our customers come back year after year because they trust our honest approach. Our owner, Mac Allen, has been providing the local community with reliable vehicle repairs and maintenance for more than 25 years. Read some of our reviews to see why they continue to recommend us to friends and family.
How to Make an Appointment for a Car Coolant Leak
If any fluids are leaking from your car, you can click here to set up an appointment. We can help not only with an engine coolant leak, but also a brake fluid leak, transmission fluid leak, oil leak, power steering fluid leak, or any other problem you may be having. Additionally, we can perform routine maintenance to help prevent leaks in the future. Not sure what your vehicle needs? Our certified and trained professionals can help you determine the best maintenance schedule for your make and model.
No matter what kind of repairs or maintenance you need, we’ll get you back on the road fast. We also accept walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis or you can call to set up an appointment for your vehicle.