Coolant Leak Repair Cost [Labor & Parts]
Coolant is also known as antifreeze and it is the substance that makes sure your car engine doesn’t overheat. It is important to maintain the coolant so that it doesn’t leak and create problems with the engine, but sometimes leaks are unavoidable.
Once you notice that sort of issue, you’ll have to deal with it quickly, so being aware of the costs will be helpful.
On average, a coolant leak repair will cost between $500 to $700 when fixed by a certified mechanic. The most expensive coolant leak repair will cost as much as $1000. DIY repairs may cost as little as $150. The cost will vary based on the car’s make, the location of the leak, and the extent of the damage caused by the leak.
If you’re interested in checking how much a coolant leak fix will cost, read below to find out more about what this entails.
The Cost of Fixing a Coolant Leak
When researching how much it will cost to fix your coolant leak, you’ll encounter huge variations in prices. It’s best to do a local search and get some quotes straight from the car shops you’re considering to get the most relevant price.
Here are the general average prices to guide you during this process.
|Average (low)||Average (high)|
|Chain auto center||$100||$830|
The exact conditions of the leak will have an impact on these prices, and so will your location. Get all the information you need before you commit to the price of getting the leak fixed.
How Coolant Works
Coolant is an essential part of the engine’s cooling system. It is a substance usually created from the combination of liquids or gases like propylene or ethylene glycol with water.
You may know it as antifreeze, and it can be easily recognized by its bright colors. You’ll usually see it in pink, green, or blue.
Coolant is part of what is known as a liquid cooling system that also includes components such as:
- The water pump
- The radiator
- The radiator hoses
- The fan
- The thermostat
These components all work together to ensure that the engine won’t overheat. The coolant is usually situated next to the radiator.
It is circulated through the cooling system by the water pump and kept at optimal temperatures by the radiator. The radiator’s hoses are used to connect the different parts of the system.
When necessary, the fan will kick into gear and move air through the radiator to cool everything down. While all this is happening, the thermostat will regulate the temperature of the coolant.
The coolant is constantly in use as long as the engine stays in use too. It travels through the engine and then goes back to the radiator, where it is cooled before it returns to the water pump and then back to the engine block.
While there, it removes extra heat from the engine to regulate its temperature.
Symptoms of a Leaky Coolant
If you’re worried about potentially having a leaky coolant, here are some of the signs you can look out for before taking the car in for a check-up:
Puddles under the vehicle
If you suddenly start noticing puddles pooling under the car that has the same color as your coolant, this would be a strong indicator that there is a leak.
This is the main reason behind the bright colors used for coolant. It makes it easily recognizable and keeps it distinct from other car fluids.
A pungent sweet smell
If you notice a sweet smell hanging around the car after you’ve driven it, this could be a sign of a leaking coolant.
If your vehicle suddenly starts overheating with no explanation, this could indicate that your cooling system isn’t working properly, at which point you should start checking for coolant leaks.
Locating the Leak
Once you start experiencing the symptoms of a leaking coolant, you should try and determine where the leak is coming from, but this can be a complex task. You should first park your car in a dry flat spot and observe if puddles underneath it.
If they form under the front of the vehicle, it makes it easier to pinpoint that it’s a coolant leak. If puddles don’t form, you should do a visual check of the cooling system before going any further.
Before you do so, allow the engine to fully cool down. Then look around the engine to see if you can discover any wet patches or coolant drops where they shouldn’t be.
If you can’t find any visual evidence, you should check each part of the cooling system to see where the coolant might be leaking. You should start by looking at the expansion tank, but a leak here might be hard to identify as it usually happens through tiny cracks in the cap.
You should then check the hoses that connect the cooling system. These can suffer from not being fitted correctly and from cracks that occur through extended wear.
Luckily, hoses are easy to access and you can feel them for cracks or ill-fitting connections. Once the hoses are checked, you should move on to the water pump, which is one of the most common areas to leak coolant.
Splashes of spilled coolant around the pump will indicate that this is the origin of the problem. You can check the other components as well, but don’t worry too much if you can’t find the leak source.
You’ll have to get your vehicle fixed by professionals anyway, and they’ll be able to perform specific tests to determine where the leak is happening.
How Does a Coolant Leak Get Fixed?
Once the leak has been found, the professionals can proceed to get the leak fixed. There are several steps to this process, but here’s how it usually happens:
- The mechanics will determine the full extent of the damage and give you a quote
- They will then proceed to remove the coolant and fix or replace the components if necessary.
- Once everything has been restored, the mechanics will turn the engine on and do a test drive to make sure that the cooling system is working properly.
How Long Does It Take to Fix a Coolant Leak?
The length of time it takes to fix a coolant leak will also usually determine how pricy the repair will be. The quicker you bring the car in to be fixed, the less damage there will be, and that will mean that the fix will be done in at most two hours.
If there is extensive damage and if several components in the cooling system need to be replaced, this will add to the time mechanics will need to spend on it. This could take even a few days, depending on how easy it is to get the replacement parts.
Can You Drive a Car with a Coolant Leak?
Because a coolant leak can have a direct negative impact on the health of your engine, it is recommended to stop driving it at once when you notice the leak. Take it to a car shop as soon as possible to avoid as much damage to the car as you can.
If you continue to drive your car while the coolant is leaking, you’ll not only waste coolant but also make your engine potentially volatile. It is always best to avoid dealing with an overheated engine if the cooling system is compromised.
The more you drive a car with a coolant leak, the more chance there is of permanently damaging the engine. This will result in extensive repairs and an increased cost to get the car fixed. In this case, it’s always best to take it straight to the professionals.
Can You Fix a Coolant Leak by Yourself?
If you notice that you have a small leak, you can try to use a sealant as a temporary fix. It’s always best to take the car in to get checked. This will allow the full extent of the leak to be determined.
You’ll also be able to get a more long-term fix, especially if there are cracked components in the cooling system that will need to be replaced. For the most cost-effective solution, in the long run, you should seek professional help for this problem.
How Common Are Coolant Leaks?
A leaking coolant is something you’ll likely encounter at least a few times during your experience as a driver. They can happen in any car and to any driver, but if you feel like you are facing a higher rate of coolant leaks, you should make small modifications to your driving style.
Overworking the engine is one of the biggest causes behind coolant leaks, so if you exert more care with how much use you give it, you’ll have fewer problems with the cooling system.
The cost of fixing a coolant leak can vary, but on average you’ll pay between $100 and $900. The quicker you notice the leak and take your car to the mechanic, the less you’ll have to pay.