The Leak Detective
by Pat Goss
Sooner or later just about every car will have some kind of leak under the hood. Now that leak might be engine oil, it might be coolant; it could be refrigerant from the air conditioning system, automatic transmission, power steering. All of these systems can leak. And finding the source of that leak can be a real problem.
One of the things that certainly helps, is to have a mechanics mirror. Especially a lighted mirror such as we have here. This will give you the ability to get down into areas that you couldn’t see otherwise. But that may not be the whole answer. You may actually have so much of the liquid laying around you can’t tell where it’s coming from. Well that means that your best next way to go is with a leak detection kit.
Now these are made with special dyes that go into the system that is leaking and that dye is designed in such a manner that it will glow under an ultraviolet light. So you can buy the appropriate kit and the appropriate dye, they’re made for do-it-yourself and you can do your own diagnosis.
Let’s say you have an air conditioning leak. This is the unit that would install the dye into the air conditioning system. This is actually the dye, there’s an adapter that goes on the end of it and the handle here cranks this in under pressure. Works very, very well. And of course as I say, we have dyes for all of the different systems - for the cooling system and automatic transmission and so on.
Once the dye is installed into the system that’s leaking, the next thing is to drive the car for awhile. Depending on the severity of the leak, well that may be just a couple of miles or it may be a couple hundred miles. But once you’ve driven the car for awhile, the fluid will leak out. It brings some of the dye with it. Then what you need, you need a pair of these special glasses, and yes they do come with the kit, and you need a dye light. This is an ultraviolet dye light. And again, it comes with the kit.
With the dye in the car, you simply start looking in the general area where you suspect the leak is, and as we can see here, we have dye running out of the valve cover on this car. Tells us that that is where the leak is. The highest point where you can see the dye, that is where the leak is coming from. It really and truly simplifies things and it’s inexpensive and easy to do.
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