Car Maintenance Advice for Drivers With a Leaking Radiator

November 30th, 2020 by

White car leaking radiator fluid underneath

You’re getting ready to drive to work. You approach your car, and you see fluid near one of the front tires. Now what?

It’s not oil. It’s not red, which is the color of transmission fluid. You may have a leaky radiator. What do you do about it? The certified service team at Thompson Sales answers in today’s car maintenance blog.

Is it the radiator or something else?

First, determine if it is actually the radiator and not something else. Oil and transmission fluid are thick, and they will seep into the concrete surface of your driveway or garage. If you run the air conditioner for a while, it will drip water as the AC evaporator core discharges condensation.

You can tell that a mysterious liquid is radiator fluid by its color and smell. Radiator fluid is red, green, or yellow. Dab the fluid with a cloth or paper towel. Bring it to your nose and take a few small sniffs. If the fluid smells sweet, like sugar, then the substance is most likely radiator fluid. It smells sweet due to ethylene glycol.

Check the coolant reservoir before, during, and after you drive. Is it lower than normal? When you drive for a little bit, does the coolant level get lower? Look at your car’s thermostat. Is it running hotter than normal? Perhaps it’s time for some car maintenance on your radiator.

What is radiator fluid?

Radiator fluid comprises mostly water. But it also contains ethylene glycol, a liquid with a boiling point of 387 degrees Fahrenheit. Ethylene glycol lowers the freezing point and elevates the boiling point of water, thereby creating a wider range of operating temperatures to keep your engine within acceptable limits. Without ethylene glycol, your car wouldn’t be able to run as long or as fast!

Temporary Fixes for a Radiator Leak

You might see several leak repair products on the shelf of your favorite auto parts store. These products may or may not work, depending on the source of the leak. If the leak comes from the radiator itself, the leak repair product could work. If the leak is coming from a hose or clamp, that’s another issue that requires immediate attention and car maintenance.

Permanent Fixes for a Radiator Leak

The only permanent fix for a radiator leak is to take your vehicle into a repair shop for car maintenance. A trained technician at Thompson Sales will examine the radiator itself, the reservoir, hose, clamps, and any nearby engine components to check for leaking fluid, corrosion, and wear.

After diagnosing the problem, we’ll suggest a permanent fix for the leaking radiator. If your radiator is metal, we can weld any cracks or leaks shut. If there are any broken hoses or clamps, we’ll replace them. For large leaks, we might suggest replacing the radiator.

Radiator Flush and Fill

One way to keep your radiator in top condition is to have it flushed and filled regularly according to your vehicle’s maintenance schedule. Typically, radiators require a flush and fill every 30,000 miles or three to five years, whichever comes first. Our technicians empty the radiator, clean it out completely, and then fill it with brand-new coolant to make sure the system works properly.

Regular Car Maintenance by Thompson Sales

Thompson Sales has a world-class vehicle service department. We can help you with regular car maintenance tasks, including radiator flush-and-fills, to keep your vehicle running in top condition. Contact Thompson Sales or call (417) 763-6811 for more information on what we can do for you.

Posted in Car Maintenance