Antifreeze smell outside the car

I know if you smell antifreeze when you turn on the heater that is a bad thing. I don’t have this issue, but when I walk into the garage after my wife turns off the van I get a whiff of what smells like antifreeze. There isn’t a leak that I can find and nothing on the floor the garage out the normal.
2006 Dodge GrandCaravan
80K miles


This has happened twice with my 2000 Blazer. The first time it was a leak in the intake manifold gasket (well known problem for GMs of this vintage). There were no external leaks, but the level in the coolant tank was dropping slowly. I marked the tank with a Sharpie to track the level. The second time, it was the radiator. The composite side tank had a hairline crack near the top and was leaking slowly. I found the leak from the stains on the tank’s surface.

Open the hood and check the hoses and clamps also.

Ed B.

Nope you got a leak, it may be small but you have one. Just hope its not a head gasket/intake gasket. my advice is to get some ultravilot dye and poor it in, drive around a few days and with an ultra vilot light you should be able to see the leak… If not you then a Mechanic… It can be ANYTHING from a small hole in the rad, to a bad hose, to as I said before a bad head gasket or anything in between.

There is another, very simple, possibility that needs to be looked into, namely a hose clamp that needs to be “tweaked”.

This exact issue was driving me crazy a few years ago with my last car. I would only smell antifreeze after the engine was fully warmed-up, and it was much more noticeable when the car was parked in my garage. There were no visible signs of leakage/seepage.

I feared the worst, but it turned out to be merely a hose clamp that needed to be tightened and repositioned.

If your van has a rear heater, check the steel lines leading from the engine to the rear heater core. These frequently rust out and may be seeping just enough to make a smell and not a puddle. If this is the case, fix it before they blow. If they blow, it may cost you your engine via massive coolant loss and severe overheating.

thanks for all the hints! it is the water pump and is leaking from the weep holes. I was going to change it myself till I watched a video and I have to drop the engine. I still might, but i am going to call around first to see how much it costs to get a pro to do it!! Thanks again!

okay – i want to meet the engineer that designed the location of the water pump! I changed it myself last and saved $270 but would gladly use that money to get to the guy that designed this car to kick him in the shin… or watch him change an water pump…

I feel your pain. I had to change a water pump on a 1990 Mazda Protege, my wife’s car. It took me ALL F’N WEEKEND, about 12 hours total, to do this!!! A $42 water pump that book price listed as a 10 hour job, about $690 to $800 labor charge for a shop to do it!. Insane! Especially since the pump was not timing belt driven, but did require the timing belt to be removed, as well as all the mounts, brackets, and accessories on the front and sides of the engine. That was years ago, but it still stings!!