Smelling Fishes? Two Reasons Why Your Radiator Smells Like Tuna!

25 May 2016
 Categories: , Blog

First-time car owners often have to start out with an older car that has done many kilometres because it is all that fits the budget. Because of this, it is no surprise your first car is a fixer-upper! However, when your car smells fishier than a Gold Coast prawn boat on a hot summer's day, it is time to pop the hood to take a closer look at your radiator. There could be two reasons for the nefarious odour, so where do you begin to look?

Check Your Coolant

One of the annoying things about buying an older car is you don't know its maintenance history, so you have no idea when the last time the coolant was flushed out. Coolant is the green/yellow liquid which is added to the water in your car's radiator. Because coolant has a high heat capacity, it stops your radiator from overheating.

There are several signs that your coolant needs replacing:

  • You can smell the fish odour after you remove your radiator cap and sniff the water inside.
  • You notice the temperature gauge in your car is running hotter than it normally does.
  • The coolant storage container (which is the opaque plastic container sitting next to your radiator) has a liquid level below the minimum line.

In order for a full coolant flush to take place, you will need to drop your car off at a mechanic. They need to remove some hoses to drain all the liquid out before replacing the water and the coolant fluids. Speaking of hoses, these may be another reason you're smelling strange things.

Check Radiator Hoses

Radiator hoses are the black rubber hoses you can see entering and exiting your radiator, and their job is to move the water and coolant around to keep the car's running temperature down. Because the hoses are exposed to high heat, they do not last forever. You can reasonably expect to get up to ten years of life out of a radiator hose, so if your car is older than this, then the hoses may be starting to break down.

Perishing rubber can emit a fishy smell. Open up your bonnet to look at the two hoses to see if you can see any visible cracks. You may notice small amounts of liquid around the cracks which is a sign the hose is failing. Additionally, if the hose feels soft rather firm when you press it, the hose needs replacing.

A radiator repair expert can make short work of your problems and remove the fish smell in one afternoon. Take your car down for an inspection before you start noticing a flock of seagulls following you everywhere you go.