Dodge Challenger Forum banner
1 - 12 of 12 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
515 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Weird one here. 2014 SXT, 30K miles, occasionally stinks like coolant when warm. This started years ago with a jet of steam blasting thru the grille. So that was an easy one, replace the radiator, nothing else up there that it could be. Smell persisted, replace the pressure cap. Still doing it, not consistently.

Most noticeable at a drive-thru when I roll down the window, sometimes catch a whiff when exiting the car. No smell inside the car so I'm ruling out the heater core.

No coolant loss or evidence of it anywhere I can see, but I know what hot coolant smells like, and this is it. No drips on the inside of the belly pan, or crust/tracks that would give it away. Are there any known leak points I should look at?
 

·
Premium Member
The Bacon Hauler (‘12 Cop Charger)
Joined
·
10,005 Posts
Keep an eye out for white powdery deposits when inspecting the engine bay. That’s gonna be dried/evaporated coolant and should narrow down where it’s escaping the system.
 

·
Registered
2020 Dodge Challenger Hellraisin Scat Pack
Joined
·
4,425 Posts
Weird one here. 2014 SXT, 30K miles, occasionally stinks like coolant when warm. This started years ago with a jet of steam blasting thru the grille. So that was an easy one, replace the radiator, nothing else up there that it could be. Smell persisted, replace the pressure cap. Still doing it, not consistently.

Most noticeable at a drive-thru when I roll down the window, sometimes catch a whiff when exiting the car. No smell inside the car so I'm ruling out the heater core.

No coolant loss or evidence of it anywhere I can see, but I know what hot coolant smells like, and this is it. No drips on the inside of the belly pan, or crust/tracks that would give it away. Are there any known leak points I should look at?
First occasionally I would catch a whiff of the odor of antifreeze. I do not do the drive through thing but at a stop light surrounded by other vehicles. While at first I'd suspect my car I'd look around and often could spot the vehicle.

Then away from the light and I'd never detect the odor again and not even at home after shutting off the engine and walking around the car to be sure.

If you are sure though the odor is from your car the odor is the sign of a leak. In one case I had a small puddle of coolant under my car -- this years ago and not a Dodge car. Took the car to a local dealer. (I was on a trip and 1000 miles from home so the local dealer was local to my hotel which was in Salt Lake City, UT.) Tech found the problem. It was a pinhole leak in the radiator. Fortunately it was on the back side and the hole was visible, well, the area of the hole was visible, and there was a slight stain on the radiator where the coolant would leak out and run down the hot radiator.

Another time -- still some years ago but more recently than the leaking radiator -- on a hot day was around my car and smelled antifreeze. Took the car to the very nearby dealer and a tech got it up on the lift and started checking. Spotted leak sign at the water pump. A lump of antifreeze "residue" had formed where the coolant would leak out past the seal and run down and evaporate. The water would that is while the antifreeze would remain behind.

Yet another time with yet another car I would very very rarely smell antifreeze. No apparent loss of coolant. Long story short I did a "hot" cooling system pressure test and it turned up the leak, a split along the mold seam of the bottom of the plastic coolant tank. Only when I shut off the engine very hot which was not often did the pressure build enough to open the tank just enough let some coolant leak out. When I did the hot pressure test I got the engine hot enough for the radiator fans to come on then shut off the engine. As the heat load of the engine raised coolant temperature and pressure the bottom of the tank opened up and gushed hot coolant. Emptied the tank. After I let the car sit overnight to cool down I refilled the tank with a gallon of distilled water started the engine -- no signs of any leaks -- and drove the car several miles to the dealer. The tank remained leak free the whole time but of course the engine didn't get that hot.

After the tech removed the tank it was clear from the build up of antifreeze residue -- similar to what had accumulated on the water pump of the car I mentioned above -- the tank had been leaking some time.

To help you find the leak -- if you want or if you prefer you can take the car in for this -- my technique is to top up the coolant with distilled water. Do not overfill but you wsnt as little free space in the tank as is possible. Turn off the A/C. Drive the car around town in just normal stop and go driving until the engine is up to temperature and enough the radiator fan comes on. With my previous cars this was 212F. With my Hellcat it appears to be 216F. At home raise RPMs to just over 1K -- fast idle -- and hold the RPMs at this level until the radiator fan comes on. Shut off the engine.

Wait.

As the heat load from the hot engine raises coolant temperature and pressure if there is a leak the coolant will seep, drip or as I mantioned above even gush out of the leak. You need a bright flash light and the hood open to check the radiator, hoses, around the water pump, heater hoses, etc. Be careful. The cooling system is under pressure and you don't want your face to be in the path of any hot coolant that might leak out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
348 Posts
The 3.6’s are notorious for this issue. My 2015 Jeep Wrangler Sahara has done this since day one. I’ve head just about everything replaced under warranty in the coolant system even the oil cooler. Still there! Many others do the same. Every time I walk by a Jeep with the 3.6L wrangler and grand Cherokee’s Same smell.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TheHorse13

·
Registered
Joined
·
515 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The 3.6’s are notorious for this issue. My 2015 Jeep Wrangler Sahara has done this since day one. I’ve head just about everything replaced under warranty in the coolant system even the oil cooler. Still there! Many others do the same. Every time I walk by a Jeep with the 3.6L wrangler and grand Cherokee’s Same smell.
So it's like a badge, only for your nose? Guess I'll wait til it starts losing coolant and look again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
515 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Just got back from a 1000-mile road trip. Smelled coolant a couple times, but that was mostly because the extra jugs I took spilled in the trunk. No coolant loss.
 

·
Registered
2020 Dodge Challenger Hellraisin Scat Pack
Joined
·
4,425 Posts
Just got back from a 1000-mile road trip. Smelled coolant a couple times, but that was mostly because the extra jugs I took spilled in the trunk. No coolant loss.
That happened to me. Sort of. Got in my Porsche 996 Turbo to return to CA. I was in MO dealing with my deceased parents' personal property and houses and cars and such. As I was loading the car I noticed coolant under the front of the car. Looked at the radiators, what I could see of them, and spotted wetness along where the bottom tank joins the core. With some care I drove around 60 miles to the nearest Porsche dealer in Springfield MO. There after a day I got all 3 radiators replaced.

As is my habit after having one of my cars worked on before heading out on the open road I drove the car around town to get the cooling system up to temperature. Not easy as it was winter and cold. Stopped and when I got out of the car I smelled antifreeze. Back to the dealer. Tech checked and found no sign of any leaks. He said when he added coolant to the tank he spilled some. He rinsed the engine bay and the coolant tank and started the engine and let it come back to temperature. No odor of antifreeze.

It was the spilled coolant I was smelling. I eventually headed towards home and for the 2K miles and beyond the cooling system proved to be coolant and pressure tight.

I seldom carry antifreeze on the car. I carry a quart or two of oil for just in case. But I carry it in a plastic tub large enough to hold the jugs upright and with a lid to seal the tub so if one of the oil jugs develops a leak any oil stays in the jug.

In the future if you are going to carry antifreeze you need to consider carrying it in a tub or if it will fit in the trunk a bucket large enough to hold the jug and contain any fluid that might leak out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
515 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I only carry it because it's that goofy purple stuff you can't find anywhere, especially out in the williwags where we were. My brother lives so far out in the sticks people in Dogpatch think he's out in the boonies. Bucket ain't a bad idea, though.
 

·
Registered
2020 Dodge Challenger Hellraisin Scat Pack
Joined
·
4,425 Posts
Update: The new pressure cap is bad. New, new cap fitted and no more smell.
Thanks for the update. One of my cars has what proved to be a bad pressure cap. I never smelled antifreeze but the level would drop considerably over time. The low coolant level light came on and sure enough when I checked it was quite low. Took around 1 gallon of distilled water to top up.

I looked as best I could for leaks but spotted no leak sign. And there had never been any coolant on the ground.

Drove the car as usual. In around a month the light was back on. In this car the design was mid-engine. In the rear trunk there as a dipstick, oil filler tube and a coolant filler tube. These were in a enclosed area that was sealed off from the rest of the trunk when the trunk lid was closed.

As an aside I could check the oil level from behind the steering wheel and thus seldom used the dipstick.

But at some point upon opening the rear trunk lid I spotted water droplets on the bottom of the lid in the area of the lid that covered this enclosed area. Topped up the coolant level with more distilled water. Ran the engine to bring it up to temperature. Put a tent of aluminum foil over this enclosed area. After just a few minutes water drops were present. There was a leak. I removed some paneling and as best I could tell the coolant tank filler tube and tank were leak free. Replaced the cap. The original cap had part # ending in 0. The replacement cap had a part # ending in 2. So there had been some change in the cap. With the new cap there was no more low coolant level issues.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
515 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
We've only had pressurized cooling systems since about 1940, I guess they need time to get it right.
 

·
Registered
2020 Dodge Challenger Hellraisin Scat Pack
Joined
·
4,425 Posts
We've only had pressurized cooling systems since about 1940, I guess they need time to get it right.
The best system is only as good as its weakest part. Not a failure to get the pressurized cooling system right just a failure to deliver a working pressure relief valve in the cap.

With the new cap the cooling system was fine. Well, until the coolant tank developed a crack/split along its bottom along the mold seam. But that was just another part of the system manifesting weakness. But this happened at some big miles, over 170K miles IIRC. Between the water pump at 172K and the fuel pump at 200K.
 
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top