I always thought if you smell coolant under the hood, it's leaking

We have a 2016 Outback with 4 cylinder engine. After driving the car, if we put our noses to the grill or open the hood, we can smell coolant. I thought that meant a leak. The service manager at the dealer said absent a puddle on the ground that’s normal so I figured she was getting out of a warranty repair. We took it to our local mechanic and he said the same. Can anyone tell us what’s going on?

The leak may be small enough that it evaporates quickly and will never leave a puddle.

Is the radiator low?

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Also, if the radiator cap isn’t holding pressure properly, it can spray a tiny bit of coolant so that you smell it but there’s no puddle on the ground.

Years ago, I had the same symptom shortly after replacing a radiator hose. After I “tweaked” the position of the hose clamp, the problem went away. Whether the OP recently had a hose replaced–or not–it would be a good idea to check the hose clamps.

A pressure test for the system is needed.

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