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Detecting coolant leaks helps you diagnose and prevent problems before they start. Checking for leaks and knowing what type of leak you’re dealing with can help you diagnose and troubleshoot issues before they become major problems. Diagnosing a leak before important cooling and engine components become damaged may even help save you money on repairs and prolong the life of your vehicle.

Color & Smell 

Depending on the type of fluid used in your car, radiator fluid can exhibit itself as a range of colors. Common colors include the usual green, red or even orange. Since different manufacturers of radiator fluid use different chemicals, the color may change between cars. Look beneath your vehicle, on the underside of the hood, or on hoses and belts connected to the engine.

You can also try placing a newspaper underneath the engine area to try and catch the fluid to see where in the engine compartment it may be coming from. Radiator leaks will be toward the front bumper area, while a leaking heater hose would be closer to the firewall.

Radiator fluid has a slightly sweet smell to it, which can also help in identifying the fluid. Many times coolant leaks are easy to spot since they often leak, spray or hiss from the faulty part.

Watch Your Gauges & Listen 

While driving, keep your eye on the temperature gauge since an overheated engine may indicate the presence of a radiator coolant leak. Turn off the radio at least once a week and listen to your car as you drive.

If you hear a hissing sound or a gurgling sound coming from the engine area, this could be a sign your radiator is leaking. Step outside of the car with the engine running, and you should still be able to hear the sounds.

When fluid hits hot portions of the engine or the manifold, you may see a white smoke or steam come off the car. This is a sure sign that you have a radiator leak and should either repair it yourself, if you have the knowledge or take it into an auto repair shop like Poole’s Garage for a professional fix.