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Radiator broke on new Car: How to get rid of antifreeze smell?

Hi! I have a new 2018 car. At 600 miles the seam of radiator broke and antifreeze got all over the engine compartment. Dealer replaced the radiator but I still smell anitfreeze when I park in my garage after coming home from work (after 5 days and driving 200 miles since getting the car back and taking it to the car wash to get the undercarriage washed). How long will it take for the smell to go away? The dealer suggests that they could put a pressure hose to the engine to try to remove any remaining antifreeze stuck to the engine but is that a good idea for a new car? Any suggestions?

Normally I’d say no, but since this is all under warranty I’d say go for it. They’ll be responsible. They should have cleaned it in the first place before returning it to you, seeing as how it’s brand new and all being done under warranty.

As always, keep all information and your copies of the shop orders. This is always prudent, and a good habit to get into.

Let us know how you make out. We do care.

+1 for the power wash, and for the same reasons mentioned. The dealership will do it right or they will fix anything they damage with water. I suggest you keep all receipts, and get one any time you go in for warranty work. Something like this could develop into a lemon law issue, and you need all your receipts if it does. I’m not saying this car will be a lemon, just cautioning you to be ready if it does. Also do a web search for lemon law requirements in your state to make sure you know what is required.

I wouldn’t use a power wash for that problem myself, too much risk of water getting forced into the electrical connectors. Instead what I’d do w/that problem, just turn on a garden hose and let it run over the area affected. The anti-freeze is water soluble, so that should wash it away pretty effectively. Note that anytime water gets in the engine compartment there’s a risk of adverse consequences, especially to the electrical system. In any event only do this when the engine is cold; you don’t want to risk cracking the head or the block by pouring cold water over a hot engine.

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If you’re not keen on the pressure washing drive another couple hundred miles and see what happens. If the odor lessens keep driving some more. If antifreeze got into the engine compartment insulation power washing won’t help much. Eventually the smell should go away. That said, you might just want to take a look to see if you can spot antifreeze that’s pooled in any recess and if you find any you can just hose it out. If you do go for power washing, tell them to be gentle.

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I agree with @George_San_Jose1- a garden hose should do the job just fine. no need for high pressure.

I would be hesitant to do a high pressure wash, If you smell it in the garage my first concern would be a possible leak, keep an ey on the fliud level, if no new fluid is leaking a couple more weeks at most the smell should be gone.

The smell may be minor problem that is likely to go away with time (this was my experience after repairing a heater core leak under the dash). Power washing risks compounding the problem as the high pressure has been known to force water into alternator bearings and could cause problems with electrical connectors, etc. which might show up much later (bad bearings, corrosion) and too late to associate with the cause. Be sure to document in writing all communication and repair history associated with this problem.

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I strongly suggest you keep a close watch on the coolant level. A burst radiator is usually the result of a seeping head gasket and the odor may be from a continuing seep which could result in a seriously catastrophic failure soon. And I agree with the non pressure method of cleaning the engine when you’re certain there are no other problems.

Hi Everyone,
Thanks for all the suggestions and ideas. I did take the car to the dealer today and as some of you were suggesting the new radiator also is leaking (at the same place the first one failed) :frowning_face:

Dealer will be getting another new radiator tomorrow but manufacturer has told them to not install it until at least Tuesday (after the long weekend) when they will be sending someone to dealership to review the failures. Not a nice way to start with a new car…
Thanks again,
SkiMan18

Hope they gave you a loaner car as a courtesy for the inconvenience. If not, you should ask and get one.

Any time you do anything with antifreeze, remember common household pets may die a horrible death if they ingest a small amount of antifreeze.

I’d take it to a manual car wash and use the high pressure washer and first spray soap and then water to get rid of the antifreeze on the engine, just be careful where you spray…

Not sure it’s water soluble since it contains water pump lubricant.

Old news. New antifreeze isn’t green and isn’t toxic.

This is a 2018 vehicle so if the owner messes it up and voids the warranty that will be a costly mistake. The dealer has offered to take care of it so they will be responsible for damage.

You may well be correct. I have not been in the US for a year, but when I was last time they were still selling the same old stuff. When I go back in March, I will check it out. Thanks for update.

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The Prestone aintifreeze/coolant safety data sheet says the product has 75% to 95% ethylene glycol. The SDS also says the product is poisonous if ingested orally. They didn’t say anything about dogs, but it is a good bet their antifreeze is still poisonous to them because it is toxic to people, rats, and rabbits.

The Ethylene Glycol type is still available and is very toxic, wrecks kidneys, and its sweet taste appeals to children and other wildlife. Newer versions contain a bittering agent to discourage consumption, but the toxicity remains.

Propylene Glycol itself is much less toxic though other additives combined with it in coolant may be toxic to varying degrees. It’s certainly safer, but one shouldn’t claim non-toxicity.

If uncertain, look up toxicity of the individual contents.