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Keeping the coolant system operating correctly is critical for the overall health of your engine, which is why experts recommend an antifreeze/coolant flush every 5 years or 30,000 miles. AAMCO shops deal with coolant issues every day—we can fix anything from overheating to hose leaks, and even more serious issues. A problem in your coolant system is not something to put off, so let your local AAMCO shop check it today!
The most alarming symptom is seeing the temperature gauge read high into the red or the temperature light come on while the engine is running. This is an indicator that something is critical, and you should immediately pull off the side of the road, turn the car off and seek professional help.
Green, yellow, or orange fluid that has a somewhat slippery feel and a sweet smell that you discover in and around your engine compartment or under your car often indicates a coolant leak. This is a serious issue that can lead to your car overheating, which is one of the most common causes of breakdown. It may just be a loose clamp or a weeping hose, but it could also be something more serious such as a leaking water pump or head gasket that will require professional assistance.
If you see smoke or steam rising up from under your hood, stop driving immediately and have a professional look at your car. Steam will dissipate quickly, while smoke will linger, but both are an issue. Be very careful if/when checking the level of the coolant, as it will be under pressure and very hot and can easily scald you if you’re not careful.
If you have a low coolant level, there’s probably a leak somewhere. The vehicle doesn’t actually consume coolant, so there is no other reason for it to run low. When coolant leaks internally in the engine, it can also be burned up within your combustion chamber and cause white smoke from the tailpipe.
This is a sign that coolant is being burned in your engine. Whenever exhaust smoke looks like it is off-colored, it's a good idea to get to the shop for diagnostics to get to the source of the issue.
Over time, your antifreeze coolant heats up and cools off many, many times, causing it to slowly degrade and become less protective. As it ages, it also gets contaminated with worn material, becomes more acidic over time and loses its rust-inhibiting properties. This can cause corrosion which will damage the radiator, thermostat, water pump, hoses and other important parts of the cooling system, and cause damage to the heater core. This will certainly cause the engine to overheat.
Every vehicle owner should have an owner’s manual and maintenance guide that came with the vehicle from the manufacturer. This guide will outline when, and how often, your vehicle’s fluids should be serviced. A good rule of thumb for antifreeze coolant exchange should be around 5 years or 60,000 to 75,000 miles depending on how and what you drive. Not maintaining your vehicle properly and regularly will result in a shorter lifespan.
It’s also smart to check your coolant fluid level between service intervals to make sure you don’t have a leak and run low.
The most important thing to do is pull off the road into a parking lot as soon as possible and turn the engine off. Try not to drive the vehicle until the overheating is repaired as it will cause serious damage to your engine and transmission if you do.
We do not suggest using any Stop Leak products as they can get into very small areas of the thermostat, radiator, heater core and other cooling systems areas and create significant problems. In some cases, it may create additional problems are more expensive to repair than the initial leak. The best advice is to avoid these temporary fixes and repair the problem right the first time.