The radiator helps to keep your engine cool. If your radiator is leaking, coolant will be lost and the engine will have the potential to overheat. The coolant removes heat from the engine by transferring the heat through a series of coils. The cooled air flows back into the engine to prevent it from overheating. You should not be driving the vehicle anywhere, and should have a mobile mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, inspect and potentially replace your radiator, as the car will be prone to overheating.
If you believe you have a leaking radiator, here are some things to consider:
Coolant tends to be green, pink, or orange in color. If you see any of these fluids on the garage floor underneath of your vehicle, you may have a radiator leak. In addition, a sweet smell accompanies the coolant. If you notice these two things, contact a mechanic as soon as possible to have your vehicle inspected for a coolant/radiator leak.
If the coolant level drops too much because of a radiator leak, a low coolant light will come on. In addition to the low coolant light, if you have a rising temperature gauge, this can also mean a radiator leak. These two signs combined can signify your vehicle may overheat very soon.
If your vehicle constantly overheats, this is another sign that your car may have a radiator leak. When you notice your vehicle overheating, turn on the heater as high as it can go to transfer some load off of the engine. If your temperature gauge does not go down, pull over to the side of the road immediately. Open the hood of the vehicle, but do not open the radiator cap, as this is extremely dangerous. Opening the radiator cap can cause hot liquid to spray in your face, causing burn injuries that are potentially fatal. Contact a mechanic right away to have your car's overheating problem inspected.
Radiator leaks can be repaired by a professional mechanic. Depending on the severity of the leak, the area can be sealed or the entire radiator may need to be replaced. Do not drive far with a radiator leak as it can cause further damage to your engine, which can mean a more extensive repair.
Driving with a radiator leak is a dangerous operation, as it will very likely cause your engine to overheat. If you are driving down the road and notice your engine is overheating, pull over immediately and let the vehicle cool down. A radiator leak can be a very serious issue and you should look to have this taken care of by a certified mechanic as soon as possible.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Is it Safe to Drive With a Radiator Leak? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.