Although it may not often take center stage, your car’s cooling system is an essential part of the car’s operation. Your cooling system helps to maintain a safe operating temperature for your engine, ensuring both its efficiency and its longevity. Serious consequences can arise if your engine runs too hot or too cold, making it especially vital to maintain this system.

Many owners wait to seek help until their engine temperature begins to spike, but this is often far too late and risks causing severe internal damage. Instead, learn to recognize the symptoms of these four common cooling system leaks so you can take a proactive approach to maintaining the health of your automobile.

1. Leaking Coolant Hoses

Your car’s coolant travels between several components to cool your engine and then release that heat back into the environment. Your car’s coolant hoses transport the liquid from one element to the next, forming the backbone of the whole system. A leak at any point can be disastrous.

Severe leaks will leave puddles anywhere you park and quickly cause your car to overheat, but slow leaks can be more challenging to locate. If you find that your car’s low coolant warning comes on every few weeks or months, then you may have a slow leak. Although adding a few quarts of coolant now and then may not seem too bad, these leaks can often expand and become more dangerous over time.

2. Failed Gaskets and Connectors

Hoses aren’t the only potential sources of coolant leaks in your engine bay. Gaskets, rubber O-rings, and plastic or metal connectors are the glue that keeps the whole system water-tight, but they can also be a source of leaks. Age and repeated heating and cooling cycles can wear out these parts, eventually reducing their ability to keep coolant contained within the system.

As with hoses, leaks at O-rings or gaskets tend to start small. Tracking down these leaks can also sometimes be frustrating, as small amounts of coolant may drip down to unrelated parts of the engine. Eventually, most failures at connecting points will get worse, leading to increasingly significant coolant losses.

3. Heater Core Damage

Your car’s cooling system extends inside the cabin to the heater core. This radiator-like device repurposes heat removed from the engine by using it to warm the cabin air. The portion of your cooling system dedicated to heating your car typically consists of a heater core along with supply and return hoses.

If your heater core is leaking, then the problem will usually be evident inside the cabin. For minor leaks, you may smell coolant from your car’s vents. For more significant leaks, you can expect to find damp floors or foggy windows as coolant escapes inside the vehicle. Remember that this isn’t only a problem with your car’s heat: the loss of coolant can result in engine overheating and damage.

4. Radiator Issues

Your cooling system wouldn’t be able to do much to keep your engine’s heat under control without its radiator. Although the heater core helps to release some heat from the coolant, your radiator and engine fan handle the bulk of the work.

Radiator leaks may be internal to the radiator core itself, or they may develop near connections. Depending on your car’s radiator design, you may have integrated plastic connectors or O-rings that help to seal the attached hoses. Leaks can develop in either type of connection. Internal leaks usually occur due to corrosion in the radiator core or physical damage from twigs or other debris.

Whatever their source may be, coolant leaks are no laughing matter. If your car is losing coolant, DeMers Automotive, Inc., will help you to hunt down the cause. Make an appointment with us today for a complete cooling system evaluation.