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2G Engine bay smells like coolant but no apparent leaks or burning. Any ideas?

Posted by MattHDSM, Jan 25, 2021

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  1. MattHDSM

    MattHDSM Proven Member

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    Joined Oct 20, 2018
    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    This is a last summer problem, but I'm just getting around to it now while the car is sitting in storage. My engine bay smells like coolant. Hot coolant. No sweet or fishy smells, just smells like if you took a jug of antifreeze and got it nice and hot.

    I don't see any leaks, nothing pooling under the car. No white dried coolant stains on anything. Not losing any from the overflow either. The last time I did a cooling system pressure test, it held and I couldn't see any coolant leaking anywhere. I'm currently using a 70/30 water/antifreeze ratio w/ water wetter since I installed the FMIC. Still runs hot at 223F on a 80F day if I've been sitting in stop and go traffic, 210F driving around town, and 219F on the highway, No AC in all cases. Already working on bumper trimming, ducting, and adding an air dam. Never overheated though.

    I'm using an 18psi evo 9 rad cap. 180F Motorad thermostat. Gates waterpump (3yrs old, dry weep hole). All silicone hoses, both rad hoses get hard and toasty at operating temps. Yonaka aluminum rad. Heater works great. Overflow tank is a NOS energy drink can, copying the cap/hose setup of OEM, all sealed up except for the overflow hose of course. I doubt that much stink is coming from the same tube used in the original overflow tank, but I guess it's possible.

    I basically haven't got a clue as to why it smells. Do DSMs just smell like coolant? If anybody has any ideas, I'd love to hear them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2021

    Street Build 531  4

    1997 Eagle Talon TSi AWD
    16.870 @ 82.17 · 2G DSM
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  2. NorthEasternGSX

    NorthEasternGSX Supporting Member

    26
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    Joined Oct 19, 2018
    Suffern, New York
    It could be leaking inside the car at the heater core - if so then the passenger's side carpet will be wet.
     
  3. MattHDSM

    MattHDSM Proven Member

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    Joined Oct 20, 2018
    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    I haven't noticed a wet carpet before, but I'll keep that in mind during my spring startup.
     

    Street Build 531  4

    1997 Eagle Talon TSi AWD
    16.870 @ 82.17 · 2G DSM
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  4. TK's9d2TSi

    TK's9d2TSi Supporting Member

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    Cincinnati, Ohio
    If you’re smelling it, it’s leaking somewhere and no, coolant smell is not a dsm thing LOL. Drive it, let it cool and follow every coolant line. If you can’t see it, use your hand to see if it’s wet on the bottom.

    Heater hoses
    Fiav hoses
    Turbo feed and drain
    Water pump to water pipe oring
    Oil filter cooler
    Inspect radiator closely

    If it’s a stock turbo, the rear coolant feed is hard to see unless you’re under the car. Again use your hand in the hard to see areas.

    I had a very small leak at the cap (a drip here and there) and the cap was new. Ended up I needed to replace the filler neck.
     

    618  3

    2000 Jeep Cherokee Sport - Classic
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  5. twicks69

    twicks69 Supporting Vendor

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    Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    You could also have a leaking FIAV gasket in the throttle body that would seep into the intake manifold.
     

    Drag Race Build 9K  13  76

    1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX
    9.499 @ 155.00 · 2G DSM
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    iugrad92turbo and TK's9d2TSi like this.
  6. MattHDSM

    MattHDSM Proven Member

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    Joined Oct 20, 2018
    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    You make a great point about being able to smell it. It's coming from somewhere, just need to track it down. I feel like it must be a slow leak coming from somewhere hot and it's evaporating before it can pool up. Otherwise I'd expect to have seen coolant dripping on the ground at least once in the past year.

    Very well could be. I don't remember replacing that gasket when I rebuilt the throttle body forever ago. I'll check that and maybe I'll be able to see some dried coolant stains where the intake and head meet.
     

    Street Build 531  4

    1997 Eagle Talon TSi AWD
    16.870 @ 82.17 · 2G DSM
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  7. Jk's97DSM

    Jk's97DSM Proven Member

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    Joined Apr 27, 2006
    Norfolk, Virginia
    You need to invest in a cooling system pressure tester. If you set it at the operating pressure and it drops you have a leak. Spray it down with soapy water to find the leak.
     

    245  1

    1990 Mitsubishi Mirage EXE (SLO CSM)
    manual · Misc Vehicles

    Street Build 572  1

    1992 Eagle Talon TSi AWD
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  8. Widgmaster

    Widgmaster Supporting VIP

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    Sarnia, ON, Canada
    Mankind has taught the dog to sniff out drugs... explosives...bad people and every thing in between. Would be nice if some one could train the dog to sniff out gas and coolant leaks..

    upload_2021-1-26_7-51-29.jpeg
     

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    2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder GT
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