What to Do If Your Radiator Springs a Leak

In Australia, everything seems to get hot under the collar from time to time, especially in the heat of the summer. For example, you may notice that your car is starting to complain as the temperature gauge climbs inexorably towards the top. If you've noticed this recently and have also detected an unusually sweet smell at the same time, you may have double trouble ahead. It looks like you have encountered a leak within your coolant system and the radiator could be on the way out. What should you do next?

Action Required

Further inspection is required as soon as possible, as it is never a good idea to drive for a long distance when the temperature gauge is high. Almost without question, the engine will be under additional strain, and you could cause extensive damage if you're not careful.

The Culprit

Have a look at the back of the radiator, but be careful not to touch anything until it has had time to cool down. If you can see traces of a green liquid and notice further evidence of that smell, the radiator has sprung a leak and may need to be changed.

Step By Step

This can be quite a complicated job depending on your make and model of car. All the pipes that connect the radiator to various components of the car will need to be removed, and you may also have to take the automatic transmission cooler out if fitted. All the pipes will need to be carefully tied to something close by so they do not drag on the floor and pick up any contamination.

Usually, a cooling fan is attached to the radiator housing and that will have to be removed as well, making sure that you have disconnected the battery before going any further. Use caution, as a fan like this can activate automatically and without warning.

Before the radiator can be removed, it needs to be drained and the fluid must be collected in a special container for recycling. You should never allow it to flow into a nearby storm drain, as it does, of course, contain a chemical.

Assuming that you have got this far, you would then need to unbolt the radiator and replace it with a new one before reversing all of the other jobs to fit everything back together. It can be a tricky and hot job, especially at this time of year, which is why most people will outsource it instead.

Better Approach

To maintain your sanity, it's far better to take the vehicle in for a full car servicing. Once there, the mechanic will also be able to swap out the thermostat and check the condition of all the hoses.