There are few things more annoying than coming out to your parking space or garage in the morning to find a pool of colorful coolant under your car. A Coolant leak can mean a crack in your engine. If your car is leaking coolant, it can cause an engine to overheat and that can result in a totaled vehicle.
The average cost of a coolant leak fix is around $786.00. If you catch the problem early on, it may only be around $100. If you don’t get a leak fixed right away, then the engine will burn too much fuel and you will spend a lot of money on gas.
What Anti Freeze Does
Most people think of coolant as the green engine additive that keeps their vehicle’s radiator from freezing up when it is cold outside. However, antifreeze does way more than just keep the radiator running properly. Antifreeze is an important part of an engine’s cooling system.
The term coolant actually applies to the mixture of antifreeze and water that is in a car’s radiator. The water to antifreeze balance should be 50/50 and if it is not that can cause major problems for your car.
What if I don’t have money to fix the leak?
If you have a leak, but no funds to fix it and you lack the tools to fix it yourself, you might have wondered how long you will be able to drive before your car won’t work anymore.
You may be able to drive for a few days by making sure the coolant level remains above the minimum amount. It is important that the water to antifreeze ratio remains at 50/50. This is critical in the winter. If there is more water than antifreeze in the radiator, the water may freeze.
When water freezes, it turns into ice which may expand the radiator and cause it to explode. Your engine may crack and that would mean it would be time for a new car.
Signs of a Coolant Leak
If you smell a sweet aroma coming from the outside of the vehicle right after you have driven it, there is a good chance that you have a leak. Although antifreeze is generally green, the puddle under your car may also appear pink or orange. If your car is overheating, it is quite likely that the coolant is leaking from your vehicle or is simply burning too much of the stuff.
Once you suspect your vehicle is leaking coolant, you will want to determine where the leak is coming from and how rapidly. Knowing what causes the leak will help you to determine what needs to be fixed. This can give you a good idea of how much it will cost you.
Although an engine’s cooling system is complicated, there are some coolant leaks that may be fixed with nothing more than a few twists of a wrench.
Finding the Leak
When you are ready to look for the leak, you should drive your car for a few miles. Then park it on a dry, clean and flat surface. Let the engine cool down completely.
You should wait for about 15 minutes and then look underneath the car for a puddle. You may even want to put a drop cloth under the vehicle. If you do not see a leak, you should look at the underside of the car and see if anything is wet.
Once the car is fully cooled, you can unscrew both the radiator and the recovery tank cap. If you notice stains around the radiator cap or on any of the hoses, it may be the source of the leak.
Be sure to look for any leaks or moisture within the tank. If you notice the leak, you may want to try tightening the clamps that attach the hoses to the radiator with a screwdriver.
Even if you do not find the leak right away, you should search the entire engine for any signs of moisture.
What should I do If I cannot locate the leak?
If you still don’t find a leak, do not shut the hood just yet. You should check the level of antifreeze. The coolant level should be between the maximum and minimum markers. If the coolant is below the minimum level and you have been adding antifreeze regularly, it is probably time to call a professional mechanic.
What causes coolant leaks?
There are a few different things that can cause coolant to leak. Leaks can be caused by the failure of one of the engine’s components. The cost of fixing a leak may depend upon the part that needs to be replaced or repaired.
A blown head gasket can cause a coolant leak and can be an expensive problem. The head gasket is one of your car’s most critical components. It attaches the cylinder head to the engine block.
A blown head gasket can cause a loss of compression and it can cause oil and coolant to mix together and destroy the engine. It may cost anywhere from $1000 to $2000 to replace the gasket.
Debris can get into your car and cause corrosion. This can create a small hole in the radiator. If you have a small leak in the radiator, you may want to try soldering it yourself. In order to do this, you will need acid-core solder, a torch, and flux.
You will have to clean the area of the crack completely. You will then want to flux around the area of the leak. Heat the area of the crack with your torch. Take the soldering wire in one hand and place it along the side of the crack as you torch the area.
If you do not feel that you are up to fixing a crack, or if you do not happen to own a torch, you will have to hire a mechanic to do the work for you. Hiring someone can cost around $300.
If you have more than just a small crack, you may have to replace the component entirely. A new radiator can cost an average of around $671.
If you are lucky, the leak may be caused by nothing more than a crack in the radiator cap. If this is the case, you can simply replace the cap.
If the water pump fails, it may cause coolant to leak. The water pump is located near the bottom of the engine. It ensures that coolant flows correctly. If the water pump fails, the coolant flow will become impacted and your car will overheat. A new water pump can cost anywhere from $300 to $750.
If something goes wrong with the expansion tank, it can also cause a problem. The tank is made of plastic and sits next to your engine. Its function is to carry coolant to and from the radiator whenever the engine heats up or cools down.
When the tank gets old, the plastic can weaken. Any of a car’s old and weak components may crack and cause leaks. A new expansion tank can range anywhere from $40 to $200.
Where should I go for repairs?
When you find you have a coolant leak that you cannot fix yourself, you will be faced with the problem of finding someone to fix it for you. You can go to the dealership, an auto body shop, or find an independent contractor. Each option comes with its benefits and drawbacks.
Taking Your Car to the Dealership
Dealerships have a reputation for charging too much for repairs and its true that you may end up paying as much as twice the amount of what an autobody shop will charge you. However, there are some cases in which taking your car to the dealership may be beneficial in the long run.
The dealership will be staffed with mechanics who are experts in the make and the model of your car. They will also have parts for your particular car on hand, so you will not have to worry about renting a car for days and days.
A dealership will generally charge you by the job and not the hour, so they have no reason to take their time about fixing your car.
Taking Your Vehicle To An Autobody Shop
Most Americans greatly prefer taking their car to an autobody shop for repairs. They are around half the price of a dealership and you will get to talk to the mechanic directly rather than a receptionist.
If you do take your car to a shop, be sure to ask the mechanic how many years of experience they have and what kind of training and certification they have. You should also ask if they are experienced with your type of car.
AAA maintains a list of autobody shops that they recommend and you can find that list on their website. You should check online reviews. You can also ask the mechanic to provide references from former customers.
Taking Your Vehicle to a Private Mechanic
If you are short on funds, you can always take your car to an independent contractor who works out of their garage. They are likely to charge you much less than a dealership or autobody shop.
Taking your car to such a mechanic may be okay for oil changes or quick soldering jobs, but it is not a good idea to allow them to make major repairs or installations. If an independent contractor does not do good work and they refuse to make it right, you may not be able to do anything about it.
They are unlikely to be incorporated and if you sue them and win, it will be hard to collect the money. They may not have many references and you can’t complain to the Better Business Bureau if they are not a business.
Selling Your Car
If you waited too long to do something about your coolant leak, you may have to get a new car. There are a few ways you can get money for your old vehicle.
Use Your Car as a Trade-in
If you are going to buy a new car, the salesperson will offer you a certain trade-in allowance for your non-running automobile. They are likely to offer you less than the car is worth. They will count on your being too lazy to do any research to see the true value of your car.
It is always a good idea to visit the Cash Cars Buyers website and let us make you an offer. When you go into the dealership you should not tell them about your old car. Let them give you a final price before asking about a trade-in.
Sell Your Car Online
When you google, “get rid of my junk car” a list of websites on which to sell your vehicle. These sites will let you list your car on them for a monthly fee. As you will be competing with hundreds of other people, it may take a long time to sell your car this way.
When you do get a prospective buyer, you will have to arrange for a time to show them the automobile. You may have to show the car several times before selling it.
Meeting someone that you have found online can be dangerous. Many criminals find their victims using online bulletin boards. You may want to meet ad respondents at a location other than your home.
Sell Your Car to Us
If you have a junk car, there is no easier way to get money for it than to sell it to Cash Cars Buyers.
Our process is easy. Simply fill out our online form and let us call you back with an offer. We ask for your contact information and the make, model, year, and VIN number of the car.
If you accept our offer, we will make an appointment with you to pick up the vehicle. We will arrive promptly, perform a brief inspection, pay you in cash, and tow the car away for free. Nothing could be more hassle-free, so give us a call today.