Of air conditioners and coolant


I was driving my '99 Jetta the other day when I flicked ont he air conditioner, I heard a strange rattle and then not much cool air from the vent. After a few more miles, I noticed white smoke/steam coming from underneath the hood. I pulled over and raised the hood. I heard a hissing that quickly abated and observed coolant leaking but couldn’t see from where. I waited a couple of minutes and started the car with the blower off. It drove fine, and the engine stayed at its normal temp. When I stopped, no more coolant leaking out. Does anybody know if it is still safe to drive my car if I leave the blower off? I’d rather not get the air conditioner fixed/replaced until my wife gets another job.


Sounds like you blew a leak in your AC system and the “coolant” you saw “leaking” was actually refrigerant blowing out and vaporizing.

If I’m right, it’s safe to drive. If I’m wrong, you lose. I’d get it diagnosed before deciding.


When the engine is COLD, check the coolant level in the radiator and the overflow reservoir. My guess is both will be full, in which case you haven’t lost any coolant. If you lost refrigerant in stead, the AC should not be used. You can run the fan, but don’t turn the AC on until you have it checked by an automotive AC shop.


I did check the reservoir, but when the engine was hot, and there was fluid in it. The liquid leaking sure looked like coolant with that classic fluorescent yellow-green color, but I will check the reservoir when cold.