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The smell of antifreeze in the cabin: causes and remedies

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The smell of antifreeze in the cabin: causes and remedies
The smell of antifreeze in the cabin: causes and remedies

The cooling system in a car is needed in order to maintain the temperature of the engine, which directly affects its performance. It is antifreeze that prevents a sharp increase in engine temperature. On average, the coolant is filled every two years when the indicator on the instrument panel lights up. If this happens often, then there is an antifreeze leak. Consider the causes of a leak, the smell of antifreeze in the car, how to recognize the problem and fix it.

Why is there a smell of antifreeze in the cabin?

interior smells like antifreeze
interior smells like antifreeze

Many drivers have encountered the fact that the smell of antifreeze appeared in the car. When the cabin smells of antifreeze, you need to diagnose as early as possible to determine the cause. Otherwise, it can lead to negative consequences. It happens that all indicators on the sensors are normal, but in the cabin there isa specific smell that does not disappear even after airing.

A strong smell of coolant in the car indicates that, most likely, there was a leak of antifreeze from the expansion tank. This can be caused by depressurization of the system or a long service life, which made the elements unusable.

Antifreeze can also leak if the hoses are connected incorrectly. This problem is almost impossible to detect during inspection, since the coolant tends to evaporate. In particular, leaks are difficult to notice when antifreeze leakage occurs in small quantities. If the leakage of antifreeze occurs in a large volume, then even greasy marks on the asph alt may remain.

Signs of a coolant leak

tank for antifreeze
tank for antifreeze

The smell of antifreeze in the cabin clearly indicates a malfunction in the car, regardless of the amount of coolant leaking. In most cases, a break in a pipe or radiator leads to such a malfunction. To do this, you need to carefully examine all the details under the hood to find a breakdown. The problem may also be due to a cracked pipe in the radiator or a gasket failure. It is much more difficult to notice the problem here.

The main sign that antifreeze is leaking is a specific smell in the cabin. May also be accompanied by a malfunction of wet rugs. In this case, it is necessary to eliminate the breakdown immediately, since inhalation of coolant vapor can lead to poisoning of the body with toxicsubstances.

Another sign that antifreeze is leaking may be an elevated engine temperature. As a rule, the indicator light on the control panel lights up when the antifreeze value is critically low.

How to find the cause of the breakdown?

How to get rid of the smell?
How to get rid of the smell?

Coolant is constantly decreasing during engine operation. In winter, antifreeze evaporates when cooled. But all this is a normal working process and does not cause the smell of antifreeze in the cabin. If the coolant comes out in large volumes or is consumed faster than expected, then we can talk about a malfunction.

How to find the cause of a breakdown by signs?

  1. Damaged reservoir or lid - a visual inspection of the antifreeze reservoir will be enough to detect the problem.
  2. Malfunctions in the heating radiator system - in this case, an oil puddle of antifreeze condensate will form under the front seats (both passenger and driver), and excessive fogging of the windows is also possible.
  3. Radiator tube problems (damaged, chipped, cracked or loose) - leaks may occur at the connections. To check this, you need to put cardboard under the car for a day. Then it should be checked for oil stains: if they are, then it is worth checking all the pipes for operability.
  4. A leak in the engine is the most unpleasant situation when it is almost impossible to find the cause of the breakdown on your own. Diagnose an antifreeze leak inengine can be removed by removing the spark plugs. If they have a white coating, then the antifreeze still follows.
  5. Oil leakage - in this case, the smoke from the exhaust pipe, which comes with the engine running, has a light shade and a sweet smell of coolant.

What can a breakdown lead to?

antifreeze leak
antifreeze leak

If a specific smell is felt in the car, this can first of all adversely affect the operation of the engine. If coolant leaks out, the engine temperature may rise, which will affect its performance. Also, inhalation of antifreeze vapors can adversely affect the well-being of both passengers and the driver. The smell of antifreeze in the cabin when the stove is turned on increases the amount of harmful fumes several times, so in winter it is worth fixing the problem as soon as possible. Otherwise, breathing in the car will be dangerous to he alth. In addition, you can get severe poisoning.

Engine operation with insufficient coolant can affect the comfort and reliability of the car, namely:

  • heating system not operating at full capacity;
  • due to the fact that the engine runs at high temperatures, it may fail;
  • rupture of pipes and radiators can occur when antifreeze residues boil.

What to do?

the smell of antifreeze in the cabin when the stove is turned on
the smell of antifreeze in the cabin when the stove is turned on

In order to get rid of the unpleasant smell of antifreeze in the car, it is worth taking a number of measures. Namely:

  • inspect all hoses, caps, fittings and their connections for chips and cracks;
  • check the tightness of all parts and assemblies through which coolant can seep;
  • carefully inspect the bottom of the car for leaks;
  • check the heating system in the vehicle.

It is also recommended that drivers not neglect regular diagnostics, during which problems can be identified and corrected.


Causes of the smell of antifreeze
Causes of the smell of antifreeze

It is quite difficult to get rid of the smell of antifreeze in the cabin on your own in case of depressurization of one of the system elements. It is important to initially find out where the coolant leak is located. Work is also underway to replace the radiator, pump, pipes, but only in a car repair shop. This method of solving the problem requires special skills from the master, as well as appropriate equipment.

If antifreeze leaks in small quantities, then for a temporary solution to this problem, you can add automotive sealant to antifreeze. But it should be understood that it will not only eliminate the leak, but can also adversely affect the operation of the pump and radiator in the vehicle. Also, the sealant can clog the pipes, causing the engine to overheat. Therefore, it is used only in extreme cases and as a temporary measure.

To prevent leakage of antifreeze, it is worth:

  • check the amount of antifreeze in the tank and engine oil (VAZ expansion tank makes it easy to take measurements);
  • periodically check joints, fasteners and hoses for damage and depressurization;
  • fluids used in cars must match the make of the vehicle and the specifications allowed by the manufacturer.


The appearance of a specific smell of antifreeze in the car indicates that there are problems in the vehicle. You can get rid of them both on your own, if you find a place for a coolant leak, or in a car repair shop. Do not delay if even the slightest smell appears. Antifreeze vapor can cause serious harm to human he alth.

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