5 Signs Your Cooling System Is Failing

Did you know the cooling system that powers your A/C is also keeping your car engine from melting? Every car on the road today has a system to keep coolant (a.k.a. antifreeze) flowing throughout the engine year-round.  

Keep your costs down through preventative maintenance and repair when needed – especially when it comes to your cooling system during the upcoming warmer months.


Here are five signs your system may be failing:


1. Temperature Gauge Is in the Red

The temperature gauge on your dashboard operates just like a normal thermometer. If the gauge reads red, pull over and shut off your vehicle. The engine is overheating.  

There are other reasons why your gauge may be acting feverish, such as a faulty thermostat, so a quick trip to your auto technician is the best way to get a true diagnosis of the situation.


2. Steam Billows From Under the Hood

White steam billowing out from under your hood is another sign that your engine is struggling to keep cool.  

Again, pull over and give it a rest.  You may need to fill up your coolant reservoir or add water to your radiator in order to continue driving.


3. White Smoke From the Exhaust Pipe

White exhaust smoke can indicate that your car is burning coolant inside the combustion chamber.

How did it get there? There is likely a leak inside the motor that needs repair as soon as possible.


4. Strange Sweet Smell

The smell of leaking coolant is very pungent. Often described as sweet, some even report that it smells like maple syrup.  

If you notice this type of odor inside or outside your car, a coolant leak from your radiator, gasket or cylinder head is the likely culprit.  


5. Antifreeze Puddles in Your Driveway

The most frequently-experienced sign that a system is struggling is the appearance of a mysterious puddle beneath the engine area.

If you spot one beneath your vehicle, you can touch the puddle with a finger and smear the substance onto a blank sheet of white paper. Antifreeze will be a bright color — green, orange, yellow, red, pink or blue. It is noticeably different from the brown or black of an oil leak and the colorlessness of water from an air conditioner.


The best way to avoid cooling system failure is to replace your hoses as they age and change your coolant regularly. Low antifreeze levels can cause rust and corrosion over time.

If you think your cooling system has started to malfunction or your engine is overheating on a regular basis, consult an auto service technician. Ignoring the signs could result in needing to rebuild your engine. Don’t let it get that far.  


At Living the Dream, our team of ASE-certified technicians can help you maintain your cooling system and repair whatever your vehicle needs. Contact us today.


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