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    by: Tom Torbjornsen | AOL Autos
     

    Dear Tom,

    I own a 2004 Chrysler Pacifica with 87,000 miles. There is a green liquid on the floor of my garage and I think it might be anti freeze. Can I add that stop leak stuff to it? Will it work? What happens if I don't fix the leak?

    Sharon from Memphis, TN

    Sharon,

    Based on the color of the fluid it is probably anti freeze leaking from the cooling system. Do NOT put stop leak in the cooling system! Get the vehicle into a shop and have the cooling system pressure-tested for leaks and repair if needed. If you ignore the problem, you could face major engine damage down the road.

    Tom

    Questions and concerns about fluid leaks are quite common. It's a topic worthy of more in-depth consideration, since some leaks can result in major damage and costly repairs if they go unattended and/or the solution to the problem is shortsighted.

    Sharon's Chrysler Pacifica comes from the factory with a coolant called ethylene glycol, which is green in color. Some carmakers use a long-lasting antifreeze that is orange in color. If your car uses this coolant and you see an orange fluid on the ground, it could be engine coolant, which is also orange.

    Can I add that stop leak stuff? Will it work?

    Engine coolant stop leak can and does stop small leaks, but it is a shortsighted solution. As the leak grows the stop leak becomes ineffective. Stop leak typically clogs small coolant passageways in heater cores and radiator tubes. I have seen so much stop leak installed in engines that it actually stopped up water jackets (the water passageways around the cylinder walls). Stay away from this product because it can and does cause more trouble than it fixes.

    What happens if I don't fix the leak?

    Cooling system leaks only get worse with time. The more coolant lost the hotter the engine gets; the hotter the engine gets, the more likely major engine damage will occur. So, fix it: it's cheaper down the road.

    Fluid Colors To Watch Out For:

    RedUsually power steering or transmission fluid
    CarmelEngine oil
    ClearA/C condensation
    Clear translucentBrake fluid
    BlackGear oil

    If I see these various fluids leaking on the ground, should I simply add more?

    Adding more fluid is okay. The proper level of whatever fluid is leaking should be maintained because a low fluid level typically results in failure of the system if ignored. However, you need to find the cause of the leak and repair it before serious damage is done and you have to face costly repairs or safety issues. For example, if brake fluid is leaking and the system is allowed to drain, then the brakes will not work, putting you at risk of an accident. If the transmission fluid is too low, friction increases which can cause internal failure and permanent damage to the transmission.

    If I see a leak, how to I do I find the source?

    Typically, a novice cannot track down and repair a vehicular leak. Systems are difficult to get at and present quite a challenge for the DIY'er.

    How do professional techs track down fluid leaks?

    Pressure testing: During this procedure air is injected into the vehicle's closed cooling system in an effort to force a coolant leak at the weakest point in the system. When a leak springs, you have found its source and can then repair it.

    Dye testing: During this procedure the tech adds a small vial of fluorescent dye to the system he/she is testing. For instance, if the engine or transmission is leaking oil, and the leak continues to avoid detection, the dye is installed in the part that is leaking. The part is then cleaned of all leakage and the vehicle is driven for a few days. At this point the tech will shine an ultraviolet light on the part. A bright yellow color will appear in the area where the fluid is leaking. This is a very effective test for tracking down stubborn leaks.

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    1 - 20 of 59 Comments
    zmanrad Oct 02, 2009 3:52 AM
    If you have a GM DON"T USE DEXCOOL (orange antifreeze). GM had a class action lawsuit and had to pay people back because their antifreeze that you were supposed to put in your car, no other type, would eat away your cooling system. I use green/yellow Prestone antifreeze that you can mix with any color antifreeze and any car. It lasts the same amount as Dexcool 150,000 miles or 5 years. Google "dexcool class action suit"
    Report This
    mariaitaliana33 Jul 16, 2009 5:04 PM
    2001 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE LAREDO, Inline 6 Cyl. 111k miles. There is a coolant leak on the left hand side/ front of vehicle. Let me be more clear. If you're facing the front of the truck, the leak is somewhat near the passanger headlight. There is plenty of coolant in the radiator - full. However, the coolant resevoir goes down quickly. When I add coolant it will sometimes leak just a little, other times much more. The car is NOT OVERHEATING...Im trying to figure out if it is the resevoir or the tube leading from it. By my description, would this be the most likley culprit?
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    antoniow01 Jul 08, 2009 1:02 PM
    I have a 1993 Dodge Dakota V8, everytime I check the fluid levels they all seem fine, but I do notice a large spot underneath my vehicle when parked for any length of time. Seems like it could be transmission fluid, but when I check it the level is fine. I do notice at times it does a hard or hesitant shift in drive when backing out the driveway. Any suggestions, what should I check next? Another note, the AC works fine in low and medium settings, but when I move it to the high settings, it does not work. Any ????? I appreciate any info or suggestions as I have just relocated to a new state and do not have a personal mechanic here.
    Report This
    magicianx Jun 16, 2009 4:44 PM
    Do we trust a post by someone (coinsnmore4u) who does not know how to spell the word "greedy"? Hmmm...
    Report This
    bustinberms323 Jun 16, 2009 3:25 PM
    I AM THUNDERWRENCH LORD OF ALL AUTO REPAIRS DON,T LISTEN TO THOSE ASE CROOKS ILL FLUSH AND APPLY SEALS IN A CAN TO ALL CONCERNS YOU WILL LEAVE SMILING ILL LAUGH ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK HAHAHAHAHAHA ;;;;;;
    Report This
    lipumar Jun 16, 2009 2:37 PM
    MOST PEOPLE THAT HAVE A CHECK ENGINE LIGHT, FLUID LEAK... HAVE A PROBLEM... THERE ARE GREAT TECH`S AND THERE ARE TECH`S WITH MISLEADING INFO THAT CAUSES YOU TO SPEND GREATLY. ANYWAY I AM AN ASE CERTIFIED MASTER TECHNICIAN FOR 27 YEARS ... 22 IN DEALER... YOU REALLY DON`T WANT TO KNOW HOW THEY BEND THE TRUTH. MY ADVICE IS TO RESEARCH THE INFORMATION FOR YOUR PARTICULAR CAR. SOME CARS, HAVE ONGOING PROBLEMS MOST CARS ARE JUST NOT MAINTINANCED CORRECTLY. SOME CARS ARE OVER-MAINTINANCED. BOTTOM LINE, MAINTINANCE IS THE KEY FOR LONGGEVITY. IF YOU’RE GOING TO BRING YOUR CAR TO THE DEALER EDUCATE YOURSELF FIRST, FIND OUT YOUR SERRVICE INTERVALS, AND IF THEY APPLY TO YOUR CAR. MOST SERVICE MENUS ARE NOT CORRECT AND ARE USUALLY GENERALIZED. THE SIMPLE WAY, IN MAINTINANCING YOUR CAR IS CHANGE OIL EVERY 3 THOUSAND MIILES, TRANSMISSION FLUID EVER 15 THOUSAND MILES, REPLACE PLATINUM SPARK PLUGS EVERY 60 THOUSAND MILES, AIR FILTER EVERY 10 THOUSAND MILES, ROTATE YOUR TIRES EVERY 7500 MILES, REPLACE YOUR DRIVE BELTS EVERY 60 THOUSAND MILES, FOUR WHEEL DRIVE CARS NEED MORE MAINTINANCE THAN SOME AWD CARS NEED SPECIAL SERVICING ALSO. ANOTHER GOOD TIP: SET YOUR TIRE PRESSURE AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK. GOOD LUCK PEOPLE! OH BY THE WAY, IF AN AUTOPART STORE IS DIAGNOSING YOUR CAR USUALLY THEY'RE WRONG. THEY DONT HAVE ENOUGH OF EXPERIENCE OR KNOWLEGE TO COMPETENTLY HANDLE EMISSION CODES. THEN AGAIN, CAN'T HANDLE EMISSION CODES. TRY AND FIND YOURSELF A MASTER TECHNICIAN WHO'S PROUD OF STUDYING HIS FIELD. ANY QUESTIONS, I'LL TRY TO INFORM YOU JUST EMAIL ME.
    Report This
    mrhappyla Jun 16, 2009 2:35 PM
    BREADBEAS:::::::OK...YOU MAKE A GOOD POINT...WHY REPLACE IT ONCE WHEN YOU CAN REPLACE IT 3 TIMES...WHAT IF YOU ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF NO WHERE AND YOU BREAK DOWN BECAUSE OF THAT STUPID FSV??? HOW LONG HAS THAT ORIGINAL FSV BEEN ON THAT TRUCK? YOU SAID IT IS A 1976...IS IT ORIGINAL...MAYBE...BUT ONE THING IS FOR SURE, THE O.E. PART IS BUILT BETTER AND TOUGHER THAN THE ONE YOU GOT AFTERMARKET...SO WHEN YOUR TRUCK RUNS OUT OF GAS OR THINKS IT RAN OUT OF GAS, YOU WILL BE THINKING-DAMN!!! I SHOULD HAVE JUST GOT THE O.E. PART...NOW THE FUEL PUMPS...IN-TANK FUEL PUMPS....I WILL NEVER, LET ME MAKE THIS CLEAR, NEVER INSTALL AN AFTERMARKET IN-TANK FUEL PUMP ON MY VEHICLE NO MATTER WHAT!!! WHEN I WAS WORKING IN THE CHAIN, BEFORE DEALERSHIPS, I HAVE HAD INSTANCES WHERE WE HAD TO REPLACE AFTERMARKET IN-TANK FUEL PUMPS MANY TIMES UNTIL 1 WOULD FINALLY WORK...IT IS A JOKE...SAME THING WITH STARTERS BUT MAINLY ALTERNATORS...THEY ARE JUNK!!! GO O.E. PEOPLE...TRUST ME...YES I GET A DISCOUNT BECAUSE I WORK THERE, BUT ONLY AT GM...I ALSO HAVE A HONDA AND I ALWAYS BUY O.E. HONDA PARTS TO MAINTAIN AND REPAIR MY HONDA...AND I DON'T GET A DISCOUNT THERE...SO I NOT ONLY PREACH IT, I PRACTICE IT...I HOPE YOUR FSV DOES NOT FAIL...BECAUSE WHEN I USED TO WORK AT A CHAIN, THEY ALWAYS LEAKED DUE TO MINISCULE CRACKS ON THE VACUUM PORTS/BODY...HAVE A GOOD DAY!!! IM OUTTIE!!!
    Report This
    bredbeas Jun 16, 2009 2:11 PM
    I have a 1976 Chevy C-10 with two gas tanks. It has a transfer valve to select gas from one or the other tank. When it fails/leaks, the gas in both tanks seek the same level. Eventually, when you think you are out of gas in one tank, your out of gas in both tanks. The GM dealership wanted $135 for the new transfer valve. Advance Auto Parts wanted about $32. An idiot can replace that part. Do you think the GM part would last longer? Maybe that could be an argument, but I can replace it 3 more times for the price of the OEM part. Same basic story for the fuel pump which is on the engine block, not in the tank. Now, don't start in about vapor lock.
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    alyenbird Jun 16, 2009 1:54 PM
    Not all dealerships are the same. Some are like Slosmogman says: They have employees that do a half assed job, or ************* expensive but uneeded repairs. I have encountered such a dealership. It was a Honda dealership. Other dealerships are like the one that Mrhappyla works at: a place where people take pride in their work and go the extra mile to get things done right. I have also encountered this sort of dealership. It was a Lexus dealership. Maybe you really do get what you pay for. Sadly most of us can't afford top quality.
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    mrhappyla Jun 16, 2009 1:33 PM
    Do you think that all parts are going to last forever? NO...But I can assure you that they will laster longer than an aftermarket part would...And YES some O.E. parts do come with a 1-year nationwide warranty and if installed at a DEALERSHIP, SOME PARTS DO COME WITH A LIFETIME NATIONWIDE WARRANTY...I will always back-up the dealerships because I know what goes on behind closed doors...YES its about making money, but what business isn't? Rule of thumb, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!!! Whether its a TV, or a stove, or a tire, or even a toy...YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!!!
    Report This
    slosmogman Jun 16, 2009 1:15 PM
    Type your own comment heMy remark wasnt about the qualified dealers that are out thier or mechanics . It was about the ones that fall way short of this. Its about the stigma that the dealers have left with the customers they deal with. As an independant ASE certifeid drivability tech we hear alot of complaints from customers that just came from the dealer. We fix things the dealer could not fix. Well let me reiterate. We fix the broken part for alot less than your going to replace the part. Aur customers leave happy and with money still in thier wallet. So don't take it personal. The public knows the truth. This is why the US is going downhill on automotive quality. When the big 3 can actually say they are making a profit then you can defend your job. Until then your caught in the middle just like the rest of us. What keeps us in business is dealer defective parts that are not covered under warrenty. You know, those OEM parts your talking so proudly about. re
    Report This
    thenamesmrboop Jun 16, 2009 12:56 PM
    supadaddy123 is spot on. But I would add that the biggest thing hindering people form doing that today is the advances in auto technology. My grandpa was a mechanic his entire life, owned and operated a shop in Chattanooga. Today he claims he can barely work on his own car because of how electronic everything is. The times when people worked on their own cars, the electronics were barebones. The cars coming off the market now, you're car might cut off and refuse to start on the middle of the interstate because it's computer isn't happy. Its nothing you can physically see or fix, its electronic. Thats what makes the difference between Auto Techs who are making 6 figures at the nicest dealerships to the grease monkeys at jiffy lube, the ones at the dealerships are good at diagnosing electronic stuff and they know how the systems function. I'm not saying you still can't work on your own car, I'm just saying it's a lot harder when you can't even put a new battery in without your car throwing codes and and flashing warning lights and freaking out because you didn't reset the computer and let it know you were doing that.
    Report This
    robinyyes Jun 16, 2009 12:55 PM
    Well I just got the bad news that I'll need to replace my heater core soon. They are trying some Alumiseal for the moment, but that is what I'm looking at. All because I noticed a bit of fog on the inside of my windshield...ugh
    Report This
    mrhappyla Jun 16, 2009 12:52 PM
    SLOSMOGMAN::::::::WOW...It seems to me that you have never worked at a dealership before...You probably work at a Pep Boys or a Jiffy Lube or something of that sort...Well, shows how much you know...I have worked at a GM deaership for about 5 years and a Honda dealership about 4 years befreo GM...These techinicians, first of all, do not make minimum wage...I do not know where you got that from...And yes, we will recommend whatever the manufacturer recommends at the given interval if needed...Yes the dealership charges more but I am certain that the work will be done better then if you would take it to a mom & pop shop...I used to think the same way when I used to work at a chain repair shop, but when I entered the Dealership repair shop world, I understood why the dealers charge more...BECAUSE THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING!!! Whether its a GM, a HONDA, a FORD, or whatever...they know their product because they are trained to do so...I have seen so much butchering when I was working at the chain and could not believe how much easier the repair would have been having the right tools and the knowledge of the vehicle...People like you are the type that would recommended a Transmission Fluid Flush if the fluid looks dirty...But what the consumer does not know is that ALL fluids are designed to absorb dirt and moisture and will get dirty no matter what...But until the fluid reaches the recommended interval, being dirty or clean, then that is when you replace it or ********...The dealership is the better way to go when maintaining or repairing your vehicle...POINT-BLANK...But if for some reason that is not the way to go for you, then go to a repair shop with GOOD repore and always ask for O.E. parts...You don't know how many times a vehicle has come in the drive that has been repaired with an inferior quality part that just made the repair even more expensive on the consumer...
    Report This
    s47willys Jun 16, 2009 12:49 PM
    Frenchfry's advice is why no one is willing to help or give advice anymore with out charging an arm and leg. Everyone has to carry liability insurance and lawyers. Next time you would like for someone to help you out think about where this kind of thinking has gotten us. Let's sue everybody right. Free money. Don't have to work for it!!!!!
    Report This
    supadaddy123 Jun 16, 2009 12:42 PM
    Im an army mechanic by trade. The first thing I have to say is that we as americans have gotten away from our roots. Don't you think that Mr. Henry Ford knew how to fix his vehicle when it broke down? The first American drivers traveled with a plethora of spare parts in their trunks. Today we don't have to do that. Travel with common spare parts I mean. Car parts are built to more exacting standards these days and last longer. But the need for Preventive Maintance is crucial. Most vehicle failures or part failures have signs that you missed long before that "small" problem became a big dent in your wallet/purse. If your brakes squeek or grind - don't fix it and it'll cost you not only new break pads/shoes, but probably new rotors too. In a society where we have everything at hand, you have only yourself to blame for waiting. Too often i hear people say they don't have the time or money to fix a problem. Money I understand..... but you have time to risk your life!!!! I sure don't. Think about it people. I am not a civilian mechanic, so i don't have the ability to say if all they want to do is rip you off. Mostly, people inflict these high repair prices on theirselves but waiting. Seals cost less than new transmissions or engines, brake pads cost less than rotors or drums. Hell balancing and rotating your tires with a annual tire alignment costs about the same price as a single tire, let alone four. But look at it this way.... i own a 2000 ford F-250. I taught my wife how to do all the work that places like Jiffy Lube do. She helped me replace the heater core, spark plugs and put on a new intake and exhaust. Of course, you would say that i am a mechanic helping her, right? She googled how to do it and asked me for help, cuase she is a hands on type of person. And no, she is not a country girl, or a redneck. She works in a rather upscale bank. And to me has never looked sexier, than with a little bit of oil on her hands and jeans. Ladies, you might be surprized how your man would look at you if you tried to fix something. Call it piggish if you want- but there is a reason we like calenders with girls on cars and girls with tools. And men that have never fixed a thing....whose children will most likely never fix a thing. Google the problem and give it a shot, you will be surprized at what you can do with a little bit of elbowgrease. But why have so many Americans gotten away from what defines us? Automobiles are American history, we made them!!!! Why can my six year old do an oilchange but a 20-30 year old can't figure it out? You can Google how to do an oil change on any vehicle? But I guess you can't Google "hands on work" huh? Blame yourselves as Americans for forgeting your heritage.
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    thenamesmrboop Jun 16, 2009 12:40 PM
    People get too intimidated when they look under the hood. If you can obtain a basic understanding of how an internal combustion engine works and just learn what each part is and what it does, its pretty simple. If you're leaking oil look around the oil pan gasket and valve covers, they are the two most common places. If you're leaking antifreeze, inspect the two big hoses on either side of the radiator and check out your radiator for cracks. Simple. If you can determine what fluid is leaking, its pretty simple to find where it is leaking from. Park the car over a clean space, wait for leak to appear, get under car and follow it to the source. Then address the problem.
    Report This
    slosmogman Jun 16, 2009 12:40 PM
    Never take your car to the dealer unless your wallet is full. It will cost more. They will recommend things you really dont need. There techs tend to leave( big turn around) because they pay min flat rate on repairs to techs but still charge you alot. Only 1 or 2 stick with the company because of senority and they get the best paying job tickets. They are digrunted because service writers tend to abuse them. They dont think outside the box. They do the work as fast as possible in order to move on to the next minamum wage job ticket. Granted there are some things only a dealer can perform but in the whole your better off finding an independant that really cares about customer relations.
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    mrhappyla Jun 16, 2009 12:33 PM
    well, of course, I meant UV Dyes and pressure testers are needed only if the leak cannot be determined...and yes, if you CAN fix it yourself, do it...It will save you a lot of money...But do it right!!! Don't half-ass it...
    Report This
    sbgonut Jun 16, 2009 12:31 PM
    thinking of my chevy van express as first plan need tuneup starting acting funny as i drove keep stalling as mechanic said need distrutor cap, spark wires, oxygen senor after got fixed without any warning light still stalling took back said coming from the ingition coil still isnt right same thing stalling add up said was found pink & brown wires broke off it run good then pop up engine service soon took back said tune up test passed doesnt make any sense now he said i should go different gas station while still my engine service soon light on not know why...my van run good now wasnt sure about this BP GAS STATION SOMETHING ABOUT THE INVIGORATE SHOULD KEEP ENGINE CLEAN AS I WONDER IS THIS AGREE TO MY VAN???????
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