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Repairing Leaks in the automobileCooling System

When you find a leak, you must decide whether you can handle it yourself or you need to see a professional. The following sections cover the different types of leaks and give you a few pointers to help you decide.

Radiator leaks

If the radiator is leaking badly, I recommend going directly to a reliable radiator shop. Replace it then repair it, and do so. At the radiator shop, ask the radiator specialists what they intend to do and request a written estimate before they do the work. If the estimate seems high, call another radiator shop, tell them what needs to be done, and ask for an estimate.

A word about the sealer

If you find a small leak in your radiator or engine block (a couple of drops a day, with no need to add water more frequently than once a week), you may want to try a sealer, or stop-leak as it’s sometimes called, before you head for a repair shop. You add sealer to the liquid in your cooling system.

It circulates around with the water and coolant, and when it finds a hole where a leak is occurring, it plugs it up. You can purchase several kinds of sealers. The trick is to choose the one that does the best job without gumming up the cooling system.

Ask for advice at the dealership or auto supply store. It’s especially important that the sealer be compatible with your coolant (the label should tell you). Sealers are usually added through the radiator fill hole. Some coolants have a sealer built-in, but these are rarely strong enough to deal with established leaks.

If you try a sealer and the leaks recur in a couple of days, get professional help. On the other hand, if leaks occur in any of the hoses, replacing the hoses yourself is quite simple. The section “Buying and Replacing Hoses and Hose Clamps” earlier in the chapter tells you how to do it.

Leaks in the engine-block core plugs

On the sides of some engine blocks are little circular depressions called core plugs, or freeze plugs. These plugs the holes where the sand was removed when the engine block was cast. If you see leaks or rusty streaks leading away from the core plugs on your engine block or signs that leaks from them have dried, and you’ve been losing liquid lately, you may need to have the core plugs replaced.

Your best bet is to seek professional help on this one. If replacing them is a high-ticket item, get a second estimate. If that’s high, too, check the bluebook value of your vehicle’s make, model, year.

Last word

Sometimes a leak right under the cylinder head can be the result of an ill-fitting head gasket or the fact that the bolts that hold the cylinder head on the engine block are too loose or too tight.

 

Repairing Leaks in the Cooling System

When you find a leak, you must decide whether you can handle it yourself or you need to see a professional. The following sections cover the different types of leaks and give you a few pointers to help you decide.

Radiator leaks

If the radiator is leaking badly, I recommend going directly to a reliable radiator shop. If they say it’s cheaper to replace it than to repair it, do so. At the radiator shop, ask the radiator specialists what they intend to do and request a written estimate before they do the work. If the estimate seems high, call another radiator shop (use the yellow pages to find one), tell them what needs to be done, and ask for an estimate.

A word about the sealer

If you find a small leak in your radiator or engine block (a couple of drops a day, with no need to add water more frequently than once a week), you may want to try a sealer, or stop-leak as it’s sometimes called, before you head for a repair shop. You add sealer to the liquid in your cooling system.

It circulates around with the water and coolant, and when it finds a hole where a leak is occurring, it plugs it up. You can purchase several kinds of sealers. The trick is to choose the one that does the best job without gumming up the cooling system.

Ask for advice at the dealership or auto supply store. It’s especially important that the sealer be compatible with your coolant (the label should tell you). Sealers are usually added through the radiator fill hole. Some coolants have a sealer built-in, but these are rarely strong enough to deal with established leaks.

If you try a sealer and the leaks recur in a couple of days, get professional help. On the other hand, if leaks occur in any of the hoses, replacing the hoses yourself is quite simple. The section “Buying and Replacing Hoses and Hose Clamps” earlier in the chapter tells you how to do it.

Leaks in the engine-block core plugs

On the sides of some engine blocks are little circular depressions called core plugs, or freeze plugs. This plugged the holes where the sand was removed when the engine block was cast. If you see leaks or rusty streaks leading away from the core plugs on your engine block or signs that leaks from them have dried, and you’ve been losing liquid lately, you may need to have the core plugs replaced.

Your best bet is to seek professional help on this one. If replacing them is a high-ticket item, get a second estimate. If that’s high, too, check the bluebook value of your vehicle’s make, model, year.

Last word

Sometimes a leak right under the cylinder head can be the result of an illfitting head gasket or the fact that the bolts that hold the cylinder head on the engine block  are too loose or too tight.

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