Is It Safe To Drive With a Coolant Leak


If you have noticed a coolant leak coming from the radiator or some of the cooling system hoses, you must stop the leak immediately. Is it safe to drive with a coolant leak? The engine cannot run without a working cooling system because it will overheat.

Driving with a coolant leak is not safe because over time all of the coolant will leak out and your engine temperature will rise and the engine will overheat. The coolant has a function to remove the excess heat from the engine by circulating around the engine in pipes.

Is It Safe To Drive With a Coolant Leak

Have you ever had a coolant leak and you just ask yourself is coolant leak normal or is coolant leak dangerous? Is it safe to drive with a coolant leak? The coolant leak can never be a good thing. But, if treated on time, you can avoid some big repair bills.

The cooling system is in charge of removing the excess heat from the engine and keeping the engine at operating temperatures. If there is even a slight leak in the cooling system, the coolant will leak out and there would be no coolant left to remove the excess heat from the engine. This will result in engine overheating.

An overheated engine costs a lot to repair. So, if you notice any leak coming from the cooling system, make sure to take your vehicle to the mechanic and get it repaired. If the leak is too great, call a tow truck. Don’t risk overheating your engine.

Conclusion: It is not safe to drive with a coolant leak because you need coolant to keep your engine from overheating. Make sure to locate and repair the coolant leak before your engine overheats. If you are unable to locate and repair your coolant leak, make sure to take your vehicle to the mechanic shop and get it repaired as soon as possible.

Main Cooling System Parts

A car engine is basically an internal combustion engine where power is generated through the expansion of high-temperature and high-pressure gases. A lot of heat is generated due to the combustion gas and the friction of mechanical parts. For sustained operation, these excess heat should be removed from the engine and kept at operating temperature. Here are the main cooling system parts and how they work:

1. Water Pump

Is It Safe To Drive With a Coolant Leak

The water pump is the heart of the cooling system which pumps the coolant through the system with the help of the radial impeller which is driven by a serpentine belt. The pump consists of an impeller, a pulley flange, and an O-ring. The impeller is driven by the engine drive belt through a pulley. The serpentine belt also drives the power steering pump, alternator and AC compressor.

2. Radiator

Main cooling system parts - radiator

The radiator acts as a heat exchanger and is used to transfer the excess heat created by the engine into the atmosphere. The radiator consists of an inlet port, outlet port, a drain plug, and a radiator pressure cap. The pressure cap plays a vital role in the cooling system. Heating liquid inside a closed system always builds up pressure, so how to maintain the pressure?

Here comes the role of the radiator pressure cap. The radiator cap consists of a spring-loaded valve mechanism which will respond to higher pressure. When the pressure inside reaches above 15 PSI, the pressure cap valve is activated and the coolant flows to the coolant tank until the pressure gets to a normal level.

When the system cools down, the vacuum inside the system sucks back the coolant from the expansion tank. In case if there is too much pressure buildup in the system due to trapped air or other failures, the coolant in the expansion tank will be pushed out through the overflow hose.

3. Thermostat

Main cooling system parts - thermostat

The thermostat is basically a valve which has a main function to regulate the flow of the coolant and ensures that proper operating temperature of the engine is maintained. It will always be covered in the coolant so that the temperature can be sensed. The thermostat main parts are: frame, charge cylinder, main valve, main spring, bypass valve, and secondary spring.

The bypass stays open when the engine is cold so the coolant can pass through the radiator and recirculates through the engine. This helps the engine to heat up to operating temperature quickly. Once the engine heats up, so does the coolant.

When the coolant reaches a temperature between 160 and 190 Fahrenheit, the bypass valve closes and the main valve opens. This allows the cold coolant from radiator to flow to the engine side, and the hot coolant from engine side to flow to the radiator.

4. Coolant Temperature Sensor (CTS)

The coolant temperature sensor has a main function to monitor the engine temperature. The ECU will use this data to manage fuel injection and ignition time. Some engines have more than one coolant temperature sensor. The data is also used to control the radiator fan and to update the temperature gauge on the driver console.

The coolant temperature sensor or CTS has a sensing probe and an electrical connector. Most CTS’s sensors a negative temperature coefficient type which means as the temperature increases, the resistance will decrease. The CTS can be a two-pin type or a three-pin type depending on the make of the vehicle.

The coolant temperature sensor is located near the thermostat housing. It will turn on the radiator fan if the coolant to the radiator side is at high temperature. With the help of the radiator, the hot coolant will release its heat into the atmosphere. At the same, time the cold coolant received from the radiator will start to absorb the heat from the engine for the next cycle.

5. Coolant (Antifreeze and Water)

The coolant (which is a mix between antifreeze and water) is a liquid which travels in inside the cooling system hoses and pipes and has a function to remove the excess heat from the engine and keep it from overheating.

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