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How can I tell if my radiator is leaking?

Here are the top signs that your vehicle has a radiator leak:

  • Radiator fluid under your vehicle or around radiator parts and hoses - Radiator fluid is green, orange, or red and often has a sweet smell.
  • Coolant light or other dashboard alert is on - Check your vehicle owner’s manual to learn exactly which radiator-related situations will trigger your dashboard alert.
  • Overheating - Best case scenario: you notice a rise on your temperature gauge before you’re stranded at the side of the road.
  • Low coolant level - You should be able to see whether your coolant is up to the “Full” line on your coolant reservoir -- without opening the reservoir.

Some common causes of radiator leaks:

  • Dirty coolant - Sediment, rust and other corrosives collect in your coolant system over time. These materials compromise the seals in your radiator hoses and even wear through metal radiator parts. Treatment (and preventive maintenance): Radiator Flush.
  • Excessive heat and temperature swings - Metal parts in the coolant system contract and expand with temperature changes. One common cause of excessive heat: a malfunctioning radiator fan.
  • Rocks and other foreign objects striking the coolant system - Like dirty coolant, these objects can damage coolant lines and metal parts.
  • Accidents causing damage to coolant system parts - A trained mechanic should always check your vehicle after an accident.

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