How to Repair a Leaking Radiator

A Quick Auto Fix With Pepper!

Nobody likes when their car breaks down, but it can be a good idea to know about a few quick fixes should you get in a bind. One remedy for a leaking radiator could be found in your glove compartment -- that is, if it includes a stash of pepper packets at the ready.

If your car begins hissing and steam erupts from under the hood, you probably have a radiator leak. If the radiator is leaking, you will probably find coolant spilling out from underneath the car. Once you determine if you have a radiator leak, do you need to have it towed and then install a new radiator?

What to Do If Your Radiator Is Leaking

First, pull over. Many thousands of dollars are wasted on major engine repairs only because the driver "tried to make it" someplace while the car was overheating. When coolant is escaping from your radiator, your car's ability to stay cool goes with it. If your engine becomes too hot, the engine will start to distort, melt and break. That kind of damage can cause some very costly repairs. Radiator repair is far less expensive than replacing an engine.

Before you do anything, wait about 15 minutes for your vehicle to cool off. Hot coolant could burn you.

If you notice that there is coolant gushing all over the place or you can see a broken or split radiator hose, you should try a radiator hose emergency repair patch or some duct tape. But if you have a pinhole leak, which usually appears in the radiator itself, you can save the day by using the condiment that may be in your vehicle already ... all you need is some pepper.

Repair a Radiator Leak With Pepper

Once your vehicle has cooled off, open the coolant filler cap and pour in as much pepper as you can find, up to a full shaker's worth of pepper will help. Start the car and let it warm up, allowing the pepper to circulate through your coolant system. With a little luck, the little pepper pieces will find the pinhole and clog it right up, giving you a chance to get to the shop for a real fix.

Don't fool yourself into thinking that the pepper is a permanent solution. Not only is it unlikely to last long, you will later need to get all of that pepper out of your car's cooling system by flushing it eventually. Though the pepper probably won't cause any damage, it ultimately will need to be flushed when you install a new radiator and coolant.

Pepper is not the only quick fix for a radiator leak. Did you know that an egg yolk, should you have one on hand, can also provide a temporary seal? If you are worried about a radiator leak stopping you on the road, be sure to keep a small container of radiator sealant in the vehicle. It's the surefire way to make sure that you have what you need to temporarily seal a leaking radiator.