Car encyclopedia

Coolant Leak Diagnosis

When any component of the cooling system is leaking, the low coolant light may come on, the engine may let off steam and/or overheat. The temperature gauge may read very high and the coolant level in the radiator and/or coolant reservoir may get very low. If any of these symptoms occur, pull over to the side of the road and shut off the engine to minimize the possibility of permanent engine damage.

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NOTE: If the coolant is leaking on the ground or does so as you fill your vehicle, then we recommend towing your vehicle to the repair shop to prevent any serious engine damage.

When you suspect a coolant leak, here are a few simple steps that will help the process of locating the general area of the coolant leak. This will not only help the shop to correctly repair the coolant leak, but it can help you decide whether or not you can drive your vehicle to the shop or should have it towed there, in order to prevent damaging the engine.

1. Does the coolant leak leave spots on the ground?
2. Is the coolant level reservoir and/or radiator lower than normal?
3. If you need to add water or coolant, does it leak on the ground as you do so?
3. Is the coolant leak under neath a particular area of the engine?
4. Is the coolant leak more to the center of the vehicle?
5. Is there any wetness on the floor carpet, especially in the front passenger area?
6. Is the coolant leak consistent or does it seem to come and go?
7. Is there more coolant on the ground after driving the car or after letting it sit over night?
8. To the best of your ability, write down answers to these questions and bring them to your shop.

A Coolant Leak Diagnosis involves special cooling system pressure testing tools, computer system scan tools, specialized electrical test equipment, coolant system chemical test equipment, and specialized technician training.

The purpose of this article is to provide an outline for some of the essential steps involved in performing an Coolant Leak Diagnosis. This guide can be used—by you and the shop—to track the progress as the mechanics perform the test.

Coolant Leak Diagnostic Check Sheet-1

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