The cooling system in your car or truck is critical to the engine operation, but some signs could indicate a problem with it. If you suspect there is an issue, it is essential to take your vehicle to an auto repair shop so they can inspect the cooling system for you.

High Engine Temperatures

If the engine temperature gauge in your vehicle indicates an elevated temperature in the engine, you should stop driving the car and let the engine cool off for a few minutes. If your vehicle does not have a water temperature gauge in it, it will have a light on the dash set to come on if the engine coolant is too warm. 

It is critical that you do not open the coolant system when it is hot because it is under pressure, and you can be burned severely by the hot coolant spraying out. The engine needs to cool so the pressure drops, and then you can check the coolant level. If the coolant is low, you can add more to the system, but it is still good to have the cooling system inspected for leaks or other problems. 

Odor of Coolant

The coolant used in your car's cooling system has a strong, sweet odor that is easy to recognize. If you smell coolant when the vehicle is running, there is likely coolant leaking somewhere in the system. 

The leak is often a small leak that is emitting steam from it, but over time, this will cause the coolant level to drop and damage other parts of the engine. If you can't find the leak but the odor is persistent, take your car to an auto repair or service center and let them know what you smell. The tech will go over the system while it is warm and under pressure to see any leaks coming out as steam. Once they find the leak, the tech can let the engine cool, then repair it for you.  

Headgasket Damage

If the head gasket begins to leak inside the engine, you may not see a leak, but the temperatures may rise as you drive the car. Often the coolant leaking past the head gaskets gets into the cylinder and is burned off during the combustion cycle, so the steam goes out the tailpipe and may be hard to detect. 

If you check the coolant and it is oily, check the oil to see if it is milky looking. Both conditions indicate oil and coolant mixing and a leak in the head gasket, and the car needs to go for auto repair as soon as possible. Over time, a bad head gasket will cause the engine to overheat, and the coolant can damage the bearings and seals in the engine.