Coolant odor but no visible leak - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 16 Old 05-23-2013, 08:13 AM Thread Starter
MLaborde
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Coolant odor but no visible leak

I recently replaced my radiator, thermostat, & lower radiator hose. When I'm driving, I can sometimes smell coolant. I can't smell it when I stop & look under the hood. I have no visible leaks at all. I looked all around the thermostat housing to see if it was leaking by the new gasket & just burning off as it leaked but I don't see any residue at all. Everything looks good. No overheating & no other problems.

Ideas?

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post #2 of 16 Old 05-23-2013, 09:00 AM
Jerry Bransford
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Heater core? When they leak, you can really smell the coolant because they are mounted inside above the passenger-side footwell.

When you have a choice, buy American made.
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post #3 of 16 Old 05-23-2013, 09:04 AM
angelo2975
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Are windows getting fogged from the inside? does the fog-film feel oily? If so your heater core is leaking


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post #4 of 16 Old 05-23-2013, 09:49 AM Thread Starter
MLaborde
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There is no dampness in the floorboard nor is there any dampness or dripping above the floorboard. Could it still be leaking but not show in the cab? Anywhere else I could check for a heater core leak?

It has been warm here lately so I haven't run the heater so I haven't noticed a foggy windshield either.
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post #5 of 16 Old 05-23-2013, 09:50 AM
Jerry Bransford
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Coolant is always circulating through the heater core even if the HVAC controls aren't set to produce heat in the passenger compartment.

When you have a choice, buy American made.
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post #6 of 16 Old 05-23-2013, 10:48 AM
TheBoogieman
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There should be some drips on the carpet if it's leaking.

http://www.stu-offroad.com/engine/he...atercore-1.htm

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Originally Posted by jeepinmichguy_ View Post
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2003' Rubicon/Zone 4.25" combo lift with Rancho RS5000X shocks/ Zone hydro shocks/5.13 gears/35" Mickey Thompson MTZ P3 tires/Black Magic brakes. Jeep #17 & 19.
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post #7 of 16 Old 05-23-2013, 10:50 AM Thread Starter
MLaborde
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Drove it until it was at operating temp then opened the hood with it still running. The smell is definitely coming from the engine area. Also, there is no sign of coolant in the passenger floorboard, dripping from above, or running down the inside of the firewall.

I know I'm not the brightest shoplight in the garage, but I'm stumped. I've felt all around the thermostat housing & everything is dry. The radiator hose connections are dry. The parts of the water pump I can get my fingers to are dirty with old grease but dry of any sign of coolant, especially fresh or freshly burned coolant.

I can't tell if I'm losing coolant because the level in the reservoir fluctuates a little every day AND my dumb a$s opened the radiator yesterday while it was still pressurized & spilled some so I had to top off. I've washed the engine 2x in the last week to get rid of coolant residue. Once after i swapped radiators & once yesterday after I spilled coolant on the engine when I had my brainfart.

When my '97 Dodge Ram water pump started to leak through the weep hole, it was easily detected (it leaked onto the engine). I would hope the same would be true for the Jeep. How do I check the weep hole on the water pump? Other tricks or ideas?

The last thing I need if for the water pump to go while I am on my way to work 20 miles from home on the Texas backroads on a Sunday morning at 4 AM.
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post #8 of 16 Old 05-23-2013, 10:50 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBoogieman View Post
There should be some drips on the carpet if it's leaking.

http://www.stu-offroad.com/engine/he...atercore-1.htm
No carpet. Bedliner & mats are clean & dry.
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post #9 of 16 Old 05-23-2013, 11:02 AM
TheRealZ
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Check around the water pump, gasket mating area, and the hose connections..........its most likely a very slow leak..and most likely in the area where you just did work on...most times when you can get that odor but see no leaks. Its slow enough to leak, but fast enough where it burns/dries off before it has a chance to drip to the ground. Look for drip stains on the hoses. And do your search from under the engine.
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post #10 of 16 Old 05-23-2013, 11:13 AM
angelo2975
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You could also go buy some Coolant dye trace...just drop it in the bottle drive it around or idle it for a few then check with a UV light the dye will glow Orange or Purple depandiing on the brand


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post #11 of 16 Old 05-23-2013, 01:33 PM
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Anytime I have a leak I can't find I just put a large piece of cardboard under my Jeep when I park it.Nothing will dry up and not leave a spot on the cardboard.

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TheBoogieman is a jerk.
2003' Rubicon/Zone 4.25" combo lift with Rancho RS5000X shocks/ Zone hydro shocks/5.13 gears/35" Mickey Thompson MTZ P3 tires/Black Magic brakes. Jeep #17 & 19.
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post #12 of 16 Old 05-23-2013, 01:37 PM Thread Starter
MLaborde
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBoogieman View Post
Anytime I have a leak I can't find I just put a large piece of cardboard under my Jeep when I park it.Nothing will dry up and not leave a spot on the cardboard.
My neighbors probably think the Jeep ran me over I killed me I've spend so much time laying under it lately.

I've got no drips anywhere.
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post #13 of 16 Old 05-23-2013, 02:03 PM
ipleadda2nd
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I have a 2001 and I have smelled coolant every now and then. There's no sign of leaking in the cab. It wasn't until I saw some drips on the ground that gave it away. Somehow coolant was getting out of the overflow tank. It may have a small leak or overfilling. I don't think the latter is the case though. I think the cooling fan kicked up some of that coolant and misted my engine compartment. Then dirt/dust from the trail would stick.

"Just as the highest and the lowest notes are equally inaudible, so perhaps, is the greatest sense and the greatest nonsense equally unintelligible."
- Alan Watts
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post #14 of 16 Old 05-23-2013, 02:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MLaborde View Post
My neighbors probably think the Jeep ran me over I killed me I've spend so much time laying under it lately.

I've got no drips anywhere.
My License plate says LOST KOZ.When I work on my Jeep, the religious people drop flyers on my Jeep and tell me,I CAN BE SAVED! They really don't know me or they wouldn't say that.

p.s. I had a small crack in a lower radiator hose one time.I've also had a tiny crack in the overflow jug.It only leaked when it got hot and expanded.When cooled down,no leak.Cardboard found that one too.I just fixed my 5th RMS leak with my brake fluid trick.This one took almost two weeks to stop.Still much less work than replacing the seal and taking a chance on it leaking again.Keep us posted on what you find.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeepinmichguy_ View Post
TheBoogieman is a jerk.
2003' Rubicon/Zone 4.25" combo lift with Rancho RS5000X shocks/ Zone hydro shocks/5.13 gears/35" Mickey Thompson MTZ P3 tires/Black Magic brakes. Jeep #17 & 19.
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post #15 of 16 Old 05-23-2013, 05:30 PM
matthew900
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I've had problems with two radiators now where the seal between the top plastic jug and the metal part of the radiator was leaking. I have the same issue, no visible leak but I get the smell. After I took a close look at the entire radiator I saw the moisture seeping out at that seam.
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