Smell Antifreeze But No Leaks – Causes and Solutions!

You spot the smell of antifreeze every time you step out of your car after having a drive; yet, there shows no sign of leaking?

Should you change a new coolant reservoir cap? What should you do in this situation, then? Do not worry anymore, as we are here to help!

Do not worry anymore, as we are here to help! Scroll down to learn about the real causes and solutions to the issue of smell antifreeze but no leaks!

What Is Antifreeze?

What Is Antifreeze

In fact, antifreeze is a coolant to keep a car’s internal combustion engine cool. It is made up of plain water, antifreeze, and special additives. At low temperatures, this liquid will not freeze. 

Nowadays, ethylene glycol-based coolants are primarily used in the automotive industry. Glycols increase the temperature range of the water, preventing it from freezing.

A 50/50 mixture of water and coolant reduces the freezing point to -37°C while increasing the boiling point to 106°C. 

A 30/70 mix ratio broadens the range by lowering the freezing point to -55°C and raising the boiling point to 113°C. Engine coolant has antifreeze and increased boiling point as side effects.

High-quality cooling is required to ensure the normal operation of the engine and other system components.

Antifreeze can reach temperatures of 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit during engine operation, and while parked, take the ambient temperature. 

Be mindful that the antifreeze smell is toxic and should never be used indoors. High-quality antifreeze must have the following characteristics:

  • High heat affects thermal conductivity.
  • Optimal.
  • Lowest freezing
  • Low expansion factor.
  • High mobility.

How To Tell If The Car Is Out of Coolant?

How To Tell If The Car Is Out of Coolant

Method 1: Examine the coolant temperature gauge table; the coolant may be below if the needle points to the H section.

Method 2: Check the “Check Engine” light; if it suddenly illuminates, it indicates that the engine has a problem; at this point, the cooling water should be checked first.

Method 3: If there is a leak under the car, it will be detected immediately. 

A coolant reservoir has a reflective substance to be detected immediately; cooling water usually has four main colors: dark blue, green, red, and pink; they all have a separate indicator of the deposition temperature or boiling point.

Cause of Smell Antifreeze But No Leaks

What is the reason behind antifreeze smells in car but no leak?

The causes of this problem are largely due to the maintenance setup process, faulty internal system components, or driving style, which also causes a rapid loss of quality.

These old cars are often more prone to loss of coolant than new cars when internal components wear out over time, such as head gaskets no longer tight.

We had rust that the driver hardly noticed any sign of; in this case, the coolant was lost little by little and steadily.

When the heating quality heats up, the antifreeze will expand. Coolant will normally leak into various engine parts if the tank is full.

Getting into the engine compartment can result in significant damage to electrical components and wiring.

On the contrary, a lack of cooling water causes the engine to be hot, resulting in overheating.

There are also a variety of other causes, such as vehicle owners, frequent climbs, thermal caps, complete system week error (EGR), and abraded.

The Cause of The Leak

smell antifreeze but no leaks

Leaking coolant will have serious consequences for automobiles over time. Inadequate cooling water directly impacts the engine’s ability to cool down. 

In case the engine is run at high temperatures for an extended period, it will result in several other serious consequences.

The answer to the question,” I smell antifreeze outside my car but no leaks?’ is there are five typical causes we accumulate during our auto repair process.

Radiator cracked/punctured/torn

Because of the nature of its operation, the radiator sustains a great deal of wear and tear. Radiators corrode over time, the most common cause of a radiator puncture, allowing cooling water to leak to the outside.

Furthermore, the head gasket between the radiator and the reservoir may wear out, resulting in a leak.

There could also be a leak coming from one of the radiator’s pipes. These tubes become brittle and easily break over time.

Leaking radiator cap

The cooling water tank cap keeps the solution from escaping and maintains a constant pressure inside the tank.

When the radiator cap is properly functioning, it forms a protective shield, keeping the radiator in good working order and at the proper pressure.

However, the radiator cap will wear out over time and will no longer provide the same level of protection as the original. Cooling water can then leak to the outside.

Broken biscuits

You may not know that the cylinder manifold gasket is responsible for keeping engine bay oil and coolant separate.

You may not even know this when a gasket is damaged because the leak could be inside.

However, you may notice coolant in your engine oil or vice versa. You should also notice an increase in engine temperature.

The coolant will eventually leak outside the engine, indicating a serious problem and leading to the phenomenon of smelling antifreeze but no leaks.

Pump is broken

The water pump is in charge of moving cooling water throughout the system. Normally, the water pump is driven by a belt. This belt connects to the engine’s crankshaft, but it can corrode and leak.

The water pump can also be affected by external influences leading to leaks. Either way, if the pump is not working properly, the coolant cannot move properly, which will cause the hot engine to overheat.

Defective auxiliary engine cooling water tank

In the car engine compartment, you will find an extra coolant tank. It is connected to the radiator by a flexible hose. Its primary function is to supply coolant to the radiator as needed.

The auxiliary cooling water tank, on the other hand, ages over time. This issue causes cracking and leakage. Plumbing pipes can be damaged and leaky as well.

How To Fix?

Since there are many causes of leaks, there are also ways to fix them. Here are our simple yet effective guidelines.

Replace radiator cap

A worn, weak, or leaking radiator cap will not maintain pressure, lowering the coolant’s boiling point. If the cap is cracked, coolant may leak to the outside. Fortunately, this is a simple and low-cost fix. Allow the engine to cool before refilling the cooling system and installing a new radiator cap.

Replace cracked, broken pipes

The rubber tubes can become brittle and weak over time. The engine’s coolant level will be rapidly drained if the hose ruptures.

Use high-quality tubing, install new tubing, and clean and seal contact surfaces before installing.

Replacing the tube will be expensive, so you should think about it. Allow the vehicle to cool before looking for the hose. Depending on the hose, you may need to drain the coolant into the bucket.

Remove the clamps that are holding the hose in place. Replace the hose and clamp it. Fill the system with new fluid and drive the vehicle to check for leaks.

Fix leaky pump

Pump replacement is more difficult because they are frequently belt or chain-driven. When replacing, the camshaft, chain, or belt must be readjusted. 

Pulleys and bearings wear out and must be replaced, which can be time-consuming. As a result, when replacing the pump, replace the chain or belt as well.

Repair radiator leak

If my car smells like antifreeze but has no leaks, maybe radiators can leak for several reasons. Corrosion, being bumped, or even being caused by minor impacts are all examples. If a leaking radiator causes the coolant leak, it can be repaired or replaced.

Repair internal engine damage.

There are numerous causes of internal engine damage, and if you are not a professional repairman, do not attempt to repair the engine yourself to avoid exacerbating the problem.

If the engine body is cracked or the cylinder head is warped, your engine must be repaired at a workshop.


What does a refrigerant leak smell like?

The aroma of sweetness is similar to that of maple syrup. Coolants are easy to identify because they are typically yellow or green and have a sweet smell. 

Coolant leaks are most commonly seen on the production side of the grille, where the radiator is located.

Can you be sick by the smell of antifreeze?

It is possible. Specifically, it affects the central nervous system (CNS), its toxic byproducts, the heart, and kidneys.

Swallowing in large quantities can be fatal. Ethylene glycol has no strong odors and warns of dangerous concentrations if inhaled.

Does the antifreeze stink without leaking?

Suppose the car smells like antifreeze outside, but no leaks. This issue could be caused by an external leak on the radiator or a broken pipe. 

It quickly drains the coolant, and there may be a puddle under the car, making the problem obvious. Simply inspecting the radiator and hoses will reveal the leak.


Above is all you need to know about Smell Antifreeze But No Leaks. The cold temperature of the engine will lead to poor performance and increased fuel consumption due to causing fuel difficult-to-evaporate situation. 

If the engine is too hot, the fuel can ignite during compression, detonating, and possibly causing engine damage.

Excessive heat can also deform the motor, permanently damaging it. Therefore, this article will help you know the symptoms caused when the coolant is leaking and the appropriate replacement and repair options.

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