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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Anyone (besides me) smell antifreeze when the engine is hot? When I park in my garage and walk towards the front of the car I smell antifreeze. There's no signs of a leak or drip on the floor, just the smell. (2016 ST with 3300 miles)
 

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same
 

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Perfect timing for your post. I have a 2016 with 5300 miles. Noticed a coolant smell for the first time when I pulled into the garage yesterday. Sniffed around and looked around with a flashlight and didn't see anything. Had the same deal with my Mazda 6. Smelled coolant, never found a leak. Added 2-3 cups of water to keep the expansion tank topped off over 10 years of ownership. Bugged me that it smelled of coolant, but glad it never showed a leak. Will continue to keep an eye on the ST.


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I hvae the same thing happen to me. It scared the hell out of me I was thinking something was wrong with the car I bought.

However it makes sense if its just the expansion tank vent. I have zero leaks, car performs flawlessly.
 

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Bumping this up because I have the same problem, and curious if others have had a common failure point they could share. 2016 ST1 with ~17k. The symptom is a noticeable coolant odor from the front grill area when the car is hot. When I have the windows down and take a turn slowly, it will sometimes waft back into the car and I can smell it. Its really pissing me off - my new car shouldn't smell like a 1990s Cavalier. No drop in the coolant level or overheating. I don't buy the venting theory - its a closed system and it should only vent if there is severe over-pressurization in the system. There is no odor around the cap or overflow tank when hot.

I dropped it off at the dealer once 5k ago and they pressure tested the system and it was fine, or at least they said they left it pressurized for half an hour and the pressure didn't budge or leak down at all. I've replaced the radiator cap just in case that was it. I recently added dexcool antifreeze uv dye and bought a black light. For the life of me I can find no leaks, and I've looked while the car is hot in a dark garage on ramps with the belly pan off. I even dropped the cradle under the radiator and can't see any leaks. No coolant was soaked into the foam padding on the cradle. The plastic line going into the radiator by the passenger headlight and on the side of the head is clean and dry. No leaks at the plastic flange bolted to the side of the head on the driver side. No leaks around the turbo, or water pump. All hose connections seem fine.

If I immediately open the hood after stopping, the smell seems to be from the front of the engine, making me think there is the tiniest of leaks along some seam on the radiator. I do have the Mountune alloy CSF radiator sitting in my closet, but I was planning on holding on to it until my 36 k warranty was out. I wouldn't think a better radiator would cause issues with warranty claims, but my car is stock currently and I bought a new car because of the warranty and don't want to shoot myself in the foot for any potential engine or turbo problems they could blame on an altered cooling system. I may drop it off at the dealer again, and if they still can't find anything, I'll change the rad anyway.
 

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My ST does this, my SE did it, too. No leak, temp is fine, it does need a very occasional add of a small amount of coolant, but too little to be a leak and a head gasket would have shown another symptom by now. It's probably fine, just keep an eye on things. Better than Subarus, which do the opposite—head gasket with little indication until it suddenly shoots into the red (I theorize that the primary failure is the compression ring, so combustion gases get into the coolant, but there's no mixing of oil in it to give the milkshake appearance and coolant doesn't get into the combustion chamber, so no white smoke or appreciable loss of coolant. Instead, the gases build up at the water pump impeller housing until it's cavitating too much to circulate the coolant).
 

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I posted above at 5.3k. Now at 17k with the same problem. Got the same response from the dealer - couldn’t find anything. Haven’t tried the dye yet, but I’ve done lots of sniffing around the engine bay and front of the car and I’ve convinced myself that it’s coming from the drivers side. This is due to the fact that I can smell coolant fairly strongly sometimes at the drivers side wheel well. I have a notion to pull the nose off and see if that reveals anything. I’d really like to be able to walk into the dealer and say “I told you so” and show them pictures of the leak.

To the best of my recollection, I topped the coolant off back in September. It’s dropped to basically the same point now.


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For the sake of this before I took mine if to get checked under warranty, I added coolant, was just a tad low. Took with complaints of smelling coolant. Pressurized system and found nothing. But also haven’t really smelt coolant since I dropped it off either.
2016 model


Sent from somewhere in southwest Oklahoma
 

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Bumping this up because I have the same problem, and curious if others have had a common failure point they could share. 2016 ST1 with ~17k. The symptom is a noticeable coolant odor from the front grill area when the car is hot. When I have the windows down and take a turn slowly, it will sometimes waft back into the car and I can smell it. Its really pissing me off - my new car shouldn't smell like a 1990s Cavalier. No drop in the coolant level or overheating. I don't buy the venting theory - its a closed system and it should only vent if there is severe over-pressurization in the system. There is no odor around the cap or overflow tank when hot.

I dropped it off at the dealer once 5k ago and they pressure tested the system and it was fine, or at least they said they left it pressurized for half an hour and the pressure didn't budge or leak down at all. I've replaced the radiator cap just in case that was it. I recently added dexcool antifreeze uv dye and bought a black light. For the life of me I can find no leaks, and I've looked while the car is hot in a dark garage on ramps with the belly pan off. I even dropped the cradle under the radiator and can't see any leaks. No coolant was soaked into the foam padding on the cradle. The plastic line going into the radiator by the passenger headlight and on the side of the head is clean and dry. No leaks at the plastic flange bolted to the side of the head on the driver side. No leaks around the turbo, or water pump. All hose connections seem fine.

If I immediately open the hood after stopping, the smell seems to be from the front of the engine, making me think there is the tiniest of leaks along some seam on the radiator. I do have the Mountune alloy CSF radiator sitting in my closet, but I was planning on holding on to it until my 36 k warranty was out. I wouldn't think a better radiator would cause issues with warranty claims, but my car is stock currently and I bought a new car because of the warranty and don't want to shoot myself in the foot for any potential engine or turbo problems they could blame on an altered cooling system. I may drop it off at the dealer again, and if they still can't find anything, I'll change the rad anyway.
Powertrain warranty is 5yr/60K.

Sent from another garage.
 

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Thanks for the replies. I would accept it as a quirk of the car except that it definitely was not present the first ~5000 miles. I'm thinking I will do one more comprehensive check with the UV light and glasses, and if I don't find anything, then just replace the radiator with the Mountune one I got on sale. Given that it is Mountune brand, I would hope I could make a compelling argument for any needed warranty repairs in the future even though that part is not listed by Mountune as warranty friendly.
 

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I also have had this problem since the car was new. I took it to my dealer last week. I handed them two clear data points: I can smell coolant, and the level in the reservoir tank has dropped. The genius tech at the dealer did a pressure test, which passed, so he declared there was no leak. Arguing with the service writer was a fruitless endeavor; he's not much smarter than the computer screen he stares at.

I also had an oil leak at the junction of the turbo supply line and the block. I found that leak on a visual inspection while changing the oil, meaning that it was obvious where the leak was sourced. The same genius tech put UV dye into the crank case to confirm the leak that was obvious to the naked eye. Ironically, he refused to do the same thing to the cooling system, despite the clear evidence that the car is slowly losing coolant.

And these guys wonder why I won't even pay them to change my oil?

I've thought about purchasing the UV dye and a blacklight to take a look for myself.
 

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If your interested, I used AC Delco 10-5046 uv tracer dye, and a uv dog pee light kit (lmao) from Amazon. I used a half bottle of the dye and probably could have used less. The advertisement says it doesn't change the color of your coolant, but it turns it green. Supposedly there is no harm in leaving it in the system in perpetuity. Its not Motorcraft/Ford approved, but it is compatible with the Dexcool coolant that the Focus uses. Anyway, if you add the dye and intend on taking your car back to Ford, you should plan on changing the coolant beforehand because the color will be green throwing a red flag to them that you've messed with the cooling system.

I also have had this problem since the car was new. I took it to my dealer last week. I handed them two clear data points: I can smell coolant, and the level in the reservoir tank has dropped. The genius tech at the dealer did a pressure test, which passed, so he declared there was no leak. Arguing with the service writer was a fruitless endeavor; he's not much smarter than the computer screen he stares at.

I also had an oil leak at the junction of the turbo supply line and the block. I found that leak on a visual inspection while changing the oil, meaning that it was obvious where the leak was sourced. The same genius tech put UV dye into the crank case to confirm the leak that was obvious to the naked eye. Ironically, he refused to do the same thing to the cooling system, despite the clear evidence that the car is slowly losing coolant.

And these guys wonder why I won't even pay them to change my oil?

I've thought about purchasing the UV dye and a blacklight to take a look for myself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Who dug up this fossil of a thread? :wink:
OK, it's not that old, and I might as well update my experience. I've got 11,000 miles now and I still smell coolant. They looked at my first service and didn't find anything amiss, and I slowly lose antifreeze to a certain point, then it stops and doesn't go any lower. If I top off the reservoir it loses down to where it was before and stops. Weird but apparently not really a problem other than the smell.
 
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