Your vehicle has several different liquids running through it to keep it operational.
It requires fuel to run in gas-powered engines.
It requires oil in gas-powered engines to stay lubricated.
There’s even liquid in your transmission and brakes to keep the parts moving efficiently.
One of the most important fluids in your car is in your radiator.
As the car operates, it becomes extremely hot.
The radiator delivers cool temperatures to the engine in the form of water.
To ensure the engine stays cool, most car owners use antifreeze, coolant, or some mixture of the two.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to spill antifreeze.
If you have a puddle on your driveway, then you may wonder if it will evaporate and disappear.
Here’s what you need to know about the properties of antifreeze.
Does Antifreeze Evaporate?
No, antifreeze does not evaporate.
At least, it doesn’t evaporate in the same sense that water evaporates.
That’s because antifreeze contains several chemical properties that are unable to evaporate well.
They’re more likely to sink into the soil or attach themselves to other surfaces and spread around than they are to evaporate.
That said, if you notice that the antifreeze in your radiator seems to be disappearing even if the car isn’t in use, then you may wonder if it’s evaporating.
If anything, it’s the water inside of the radiator that may be evaporating.
Most antifreeze containers suggest mixing one-half water and one-half antifreeze in the radiator.
Although the water remains contained inside of the chamber, there’s always a chance that it may evaporate slowly over time.
In most cases, if you notice that your antifreeze is disappearing in your radiator without using your car, then it’s probably because of a leak.
Antifreeze doesn’t evaporate, so you’ll need to use other methods to clean up a spill or consider a leak if it’s disappearing from your radiator.
How To Clean Up An Antifreeze Spill
Antifreeze spills can become dangerous.
The chemical itself is extremely toxic.
You should never touch it with your bare hands.
Even inhaling it can be dangerous.
When you realize there’s a spill on your driveway or in your garage, then you need to know how to dispose of it properly.
Here are the steps you should take to clean up an antifreeze spill.
1. Put On Protective Clothing
You should never let antifreeze touch your bare skin.
Because the skin absorbs what’s on it over time, it will also absorb the harsh chemicals found in antifreeze.
The chemicals in antifreeze are toxic and can cause serious damage to your body.
It’s even said to have been used as a murder weapon.
Before you attempt to clean the spill, you’ll want to wear protective gloves.
These should be large and thick gloves that cover your hands and wrists.
It’s also worth changing your shoes if they expose your toes or feet.
Wear covered shoes to prevent the spill from making contact with your bare feet.
Finally, consider wearing a respirator.
While it’s safer if the spill is outside, you’ll still be close to it.
The fumes from the antifreeze aren’t safe to breathe in.
A respirator can keep your lungs, throat, and eyes safe while you clean it.
2. Pour Absorbent On The Spill
Once you’re safe, you’ll need to use a liquid absorbent.
You can find it at most hardware stores.
Even some grocery stores sell it in their home department.
Cover the spill with the liquid absorbent until it’s completely encompassed.
Take a look at what the container says about how long you need to let it rest.
In most cases, it should only be a few minutes.
Next, you’ll need to fill a bucket with warm water and some detergent.
The type of detergent that works best is one that can form foamy suds.
The foam does a better job of covering the spill and picking up the stain left behind.
Take a brush and scrub into the area.
This step of the process will take time.
You want to scrub until you remove any lingering residue.
Because antifreeze is a toxic substance, you can’t dispose of it with your garbage.
Instead, you’ll want to take the sudsy mess that you made and secure it.
You’ll need a top for the bucket.
You can even label it for reference later.
Depending on where you live, you should have a local recycling center or a toxic clean-up office.
They take the toxic waste and dispose of it for you.
Take the bucket with you and leave it with them.
If you’re unable to take it to them immediately after cleaning the spill, then you’ll need to store your toxic waste in a safe area.
It needs to be far away from animals and children.
5. Buy Coolant Cleaners
You can prepare for future spills by buying coolant cleaners.
At most stores that contain an auto section, you should find various cleaners that work with specific cleaners.
These cleaners do most of the hard work for you.
They allow you to clean up a spill quickly and effectively.
One example is SpillFix.
What Does Antifreeze Do?
Considering how dangerous antifreeze is, you may wonder why car owners bother to use it.
Antifreeze plays an important role for your car during extreme temperatures.
Antifreeze on its own helps lower the freezing point of the water inside of the radiator.
This is helpful in certain climates where freezing temperatures are common, especially during winter.
Since the freezing point is now lower, it takes even lower temperatures to actually start to freeze the water.
If the water turns to ice, then it’s unable to do its job of keeping the engine cool.
You may face overheating problems which can cause a series of other problems.
A frozen radiator is also delicate.
Its parts might break under the pressure.
That’s why many people who live in areas that have cold winters will put antifreeze in their cars at the onset of winter.
Another version of antifreeze is a combination of antifreeze and coolant.
This type of antifreeze serves two purposes.
It lowers the freezing point while also increasing the boiling point of water.
This is helpful for car owners who live in areas that see extremely hot temperatures.
When the temperatures rise, the engine becomes hotter.
Water on its own can’t do the job of cooling it well since it’s also boiling.
Coolant helps increase the boiling point of water.
This means it takes higher temperatures to make the water start to boil.
Not only does this mean the car loses less water due to waste, but it also does a better job of keeping the engine cool.
Antifreeze with coolant is a great chemical that keeps your car performing well and maintains its safety.
Although it may be dangerous, its benefits are considerable.
How To Tell If Your Antifreeze Is Leaking
One of the reasons you might think your antifreeze is evaporating is that it’s slowly disappearing from your radiator.
While your antifreeze does decrease gradually with time and use, it shouldn’t decrease at a substantial rate.
If it does, then it could indicate that you have a leak.
Here are a few signs that indicate your antifreeze is leaking.
1. Sweet Aroma
One of the reasons antifreeze is dangerous is because it gives off a sweet aroma and flavor.
This has led some children and animals to drink it and die unpleasantly.
Because it has a sweet aroma, however, you can often use its odor to determine if it’s leaking or not.
A sign that you have an antifreeze leak is if you smell an odd sweetness around your car.
The smell may come from under your car or even inside of it.
Sometimes, you can even smell it inside of the car while you’re operating it.
You’re not supposed to be able to smell antifreeze.
The substance remains firmly locked inside of your radiator.
If you do smell it, then that means there’s a leak somewhere.
It’s leaking the antifreeze out of the radiator and either inside of your engine or below your car.
You can sometimes smell it while you’re driving because the leak catches the air that’s blowing through your car through the heating or cooling system.
If there’s a sweet smell coming from your car, then there’s a chance it’s because of an antifreeze leak.
2. Colorful Puddle
Another sure sign that you have an antifreeze leak is a colorful puddle beneath your car.
When making the various fluids that run through your car, manufacturers add certain colors to help distinguish them from one another.
That way if there is a leak, then mechanics know what’s leaking.
Oil is black and transmission fluid has a red color to it.
Antifreeze tends to look lime green, but it can also be pink, orange, or even blue-green.
It also shimmers in the light.
If you spot one of these colors in a puddle beneath your car, then you know it’s your antifreeze.
You may also see it on your radiator cap or the tubes connecting the radiator to the engine.
Since the liquid should only be inside the radiator, seeing it elsewhere indicates that there’s a leak somewhere.
3. Engine Overheating/Freezing
Another way that you can tell you have an antifreeze leak is the engine either overheats or freezes frequently.
Keep in mind that only an antifreeze bottle with coolant in it will help keep your engine cool, too.
If it’s only an antifreeze bottle, then it will only help keep your engine from freezing in the winter.
You can see if your engine is freezing by looking at the temperature gauge in the driver’s cab.
If the meter doesn’t rise at all, then your engine isn’t generating enough heat.
That means that the water is too cold.
It might also generate too much heat.
This indicates that the water froze and is unable to cool down the engine.
If the water froze, then the antifreeze either didn’t work or it isn’t there.
The temperature gauge can also tell you if your engine is overheating.
The meter will run into the red when the engine starts to overheat.
You may notice steam or smoke coming from the engine compartment if this is the case.
Since engines can catch fire, it’s important to stop driving and find some way of cooling the engine immediately.
If the antifreeze leaks out of the car, then your engine is sure to either overheat or freeze.
4. Rapid Antifreeze Loss
If you open the hood of your car, then you’ll notice that there’s a translucent container in the compartment.
This is where the antifreeze and water go.
Because it’s mostly translucent, you can see the level of the liquid.
The container will have a fill line that tells you how much the container needs to hold to be able to do its job of keeping the engine cool.
When pouring antifreeze and water into the container, you should watch how quickly it sinks.
If it refuses to stay above the fill line and instead keeps going, even with the car off, then this means there’s a leak.
When there isn’t a leak, you’ll see the liquid level rise higher and higher within the tank.
Then it holds steady while the car isn’t in use.
Even if you do use the car, you should see that the liquid lowers only a small amount.
If there’s a substantial loss to the point where you have to refill the tank every day, then that means there’s a leak somewhere.
How To Look For An Antifreeze Leak
If you’ve gone through the signs and have determined that your car is leaking antifreeze, then you may want to know how to find the source of the leak.
Here are a few steps you can use to look for an antifreeze leak.
1. Let The Car Idle
Put the car in drive and get on the ground.
You’ll want to look for a steady drip at the center of your car.
Most radiators tend to be at the front of the car, but the exact location differs based on the make and model of the car.
If you see consistent dripping while the car is idle, then there’s a chance that it’s the radiator that’s leaking.
2. Check Reservoir
Open the hood of your car and turn the car on.
Keep an eye on the reservoir which is the translucent tank that you fill with antifreeze and water.
Do not remove the cap.
Because the engine becomes hot while running, you can seriously burn yourself by touching the cap.
It also houses boiling water which can erupt and burn your hands if it touches you.
Instead, simply keep an eye on the level of water inside the reservoir.
If it goes down by a lot while the car is running, then it has a leak.
You can take a look at the cap and the various hoses attached from the reservoir to the radiator.
If you see anything dripping, then you know it’s either a cracked reservoir cap or a hose.
Some mechanics will also use dyes to help trace the leak.
Antifreeze doesn’t evaporate because it’s mostly synthetic and doesn’t contain much water.
However, because it’s mixed with water, it can appear as though it’s evaporating.
It’s actually the water that’s evaporating instead.
In most cases, if you notice that your antifreeze is disappearing quickly, then it’s probably because of a leak.