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View Full Version : Can I test for radiator leak without removing radiator?


jeeperguy21
September 10th, 2010, 12:32
I have a fairly new radiator. I have a slow coolant leak that is mysteriously appearing on the front passenger side and dripping onto the axle while driving. Radiator hoses, water pump, and t-stat are all new within 6 months. Getting tired of filling up the reservoir and dumping money into coolant.

I am not sure that it is the radiator because I can't actually see where it's coming from. It's just pooling up and dripping, but I don't know where it's coming from.

Can a radiator shop, or myself, somehow determine where the leak is coming from without removing the radiator, or is that unavoidable? The weird thing is, the cooling system doesn't leak all the time either. It's really really strange. What are my options here?

Saudade
September 10th, 2010, 13:08
You need a pressure testing so you can "pump up" the system without it running. Autozone has them list in their loan-a-tool program.

http://www.autozone.com/autozone/inourstores/lat/latLanding.jsp?bodyContent=heatingAndCooling

joe_peters
September 10th, 2010, 13:29
You need a pressure testing so you can "pump up" the system without it running. Autozone has them list in their loan-a-tool program.

http://www.autozone.com/autozone/inourstores/lat/latLanding.jsp?bodyContent=heatingAndCooling

Those will usually show the leak, however I have had some that would not present under pressure unless I pumped them WAY over specs for the system--those were usually thin small hairline cracks in plastic tanks.

If you can't locate it with the pressure tester you can purchase dye, add it to the coolant, then use a UV light.

Good luck.

jeeperguy21
September 10th, 2010, 17:18
Sounds like it's exactly what I need. Thanks for all your input.

joe_peters
September 10th, 2010, 18:30
Ok, post up how it goes.

Good luck.

lawsoncl
September 10th, 2010, 20:23
Its not the overflow bottle or the line going to it?

RCP Phx
September 10th, 2010, 20:46
Drain plug,they like to leak!

jeeperguy21
September 15th, 2010, 11:59
So I rented a cooling system pressure tester and pumped it up. The only place I could see any sign of a leak was where the upper radiator hose hooks up to the radiator. Upon deeper inspection, the hose seems to have worked itself off. As soon as I loosened the clamp just tad, it started dripping really quickly. I pushed the hose back on all the way (it was almost completely off) and tightened up the clamp as much as I could. Hopefully that was the culprit of the leak and I hope I don't have any more cooling issues for a long long time since everything is new within a few years. It always looked like it was on there fine, but it is kind of hard to see with the radiator cover thing right there.

Now I plan on giving it a good washdown to get rid of the coolant smell that it has every time it gets hot while running. I can't stand that smell! It might be a futile attempt, but it's worth a try. Thanks for all your help and suggestions!

kastein
September 15th, 2010, 12:06
Stay away from the TPS and distributor when you give your engine a bath, they don't like that kind of treatment at all.

If it continues leaking, try the OEM "constant tension" spring clamps instead of a screw based hose clamp, they can be a pain in the ass to install and remove without the right pliers but tend to clamp better.