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How Much Does it Cost to Fix a Coolant Leak? Signs, Prices & FAQ


Every vehicle has a cooling system in its core that helps your car maintain an average operating temperature. The cooling system contains a coolant or antifreeze fluid that goes through your entire engine and keeps the temperatures optimal. When it comes to a coolant leak, it is essential to notice it in time, as it may be a symptom of a more significant problem that can cause further damage. It depends on the make of the car, but you can expect to pay between $55-1$1000.

If you suspect there might be a coolant leak on your car, continue reading this article to learn the signs of a coolant leak, how you can fix it, and how much this investment may cost.

divider 7 What is a Cooling System?

Since all vehicles require a properly working engine to run, it is also crucial to have a properly working cooling system. The cooling system is one of the main components of a healthy engine. The primary purpose of the cooling system is to allow a machine to heat up as fast as possible and maintain that optimal temperature throughout the entire engine.

The primary parts of a cooling system are the radiator, the water pump, and a thermostat. A cooling system wouldn’t be able to work correctly without the coolant fluid running through and keeping the water at about 115°F.

The Importance of Coolant

Coolant is vital to your engine and it’s important to change and maintain it regularly. Antifreeze is necessary since water alone is not enough to maintain temperatures in an engine. If you only use water, it would boil in hot temperatures and freeze in the cold.

The coolant fluid can be colored green, orange, blue, and sometimes even pink. Water pumps ensure the coolant runs through the entire engine, into the radiator where the temperature is adjusted, and then goes back circulating through the engine. If the temperatures that run through the engine get extremely hot, it would quickly destroy the engine. If the cooling system starts to fail, the entire engine may seize.

The 4 Signs Your Car Has a Coolant Leak

If you suspect that your vehicle may have a coolant leak, there are a few signs to look for to ascertain whether this is the case. By finding it in time, you will ensure no further damage is done to your engine.

1. Smell

The first heads-up you may encounter is the odd smell after turning off your car’s engine. The antifreeze has a particular, sweet scent that you can easily recognize if it starts leaking. This scent might be strong enough to smell even from inside the car.

2. Stains under the car

The second most common symptom of coolant leakage is the stain under the car after you’ve parked it. The coolant will be different in color from any other fluid running in your vehicle. It can be greenish, blue, orange, or even pink.

3. Your engine may start overheating

Since the primary purpose of a cooling system is to maintain an optimal temperature in your car’s vehicle when it starts leaking, you will notice it quickly by your vehicle overheating. If it lets off a strong scent or even starts smoking, this is a sure sign you have a coolant leak.

4. Discolored radiator

If your car has a coolant leakage, one way to find out is by looking at the radiator. There will be clear signs on the radiator if there is a leak since the fluid may stain or even cause some rust to it.

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How Much Does Fixing a Coolant Leak Cost?

The costs of repairing a coolant leak will depend mainly on the type of car you drive. The labor alone will cost on average $100, while the parts for fixing the leak will be charged individually depending on the model. We made a list of average prices of specific models while considering both the labor costs and the parts.

Model Lower cost average Higher cost average
BMW $750 $1,000
Volkswagen $150 $786
Audi $55 $69
Nissan $650 $720
Chevy $44 $56
Ford $670 $750
Jeep Grand Cherokee $751 $823

Additional Costs to Anticipate


Labor costs are an unavoidable part of fixing a coolant leak. They may cost you anywhere from $165 to $900 if you go to a mechanic. Even though it may sound a bit pricey, it is crucial to choose the right mechanic for this project, as this job is not simple. They will need to find the leak, remove any damaged parts, and install new parts.

Replacing a car radiator

If your mechanic finds out there is a coolant leak, there is a possibility that even your car’s radiator may be damaged. Replacing an old car radiator may cost you $300 to $900. This includes the complete service that the mechanic provides, including the part itself.

man opening car radiator
Image Credit: My Photo by me, Shutterstock

Air Conditioner

Sometimes you may even need to replace or fix your air conditioner. Getting this part fixed costs about $150 to $275, but if you need to replace it, it may cost a bit more, closer to $750.

How Often Should I Change the Engine Coolant?

Even though your car is running correctly and everything seems okay, you should replace the coolant fluid fairly frequently. It is vital to change the coolant accordingly to prevent any potential problems or failures in the engine, depending on which model you own. Manufacturers recommend changing the antifreeze every 30,000 miles, while some vehicles can go up to even 12 or 15 years without changing the engine coolant.

divider 7 Final Thoughts

If you suspect you have a coolant leak in your vehicle, being able to recognize a problem is the first step to solving it. Hopefully, we gave you an insight into how to handle a coolant leak and how much it might cost depending on your car’s model.

Featured Image Credit: Pawel Radomski, Shutterstock


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