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If you're going through 1/2 gallon every few weeks - you've got a leak. Since you smell it from the heater vents - it may very well be the heater core ($$$) that is leaking. Usually, you'll notice that the windows will fog up heavily as the coolant is very hot / steamy once the engine has warmed up fully.
Look for coolant puddles under the truck to get an idea as to where it is leaking from. If closer to the front bumper - it's probably not the heater core - if closer to the firewall - it could be the heater core.
Hi Mary, I'm glad to help! Mary, this is a common problem that occurs after flushing the coolant system. The heater core was corroded and the cleaner removed the rust from it and now its leaking and that why you smell coolant with the heater on. Unfortunately the complete dash will have to be removed to fix this problem. CAUTION: Do not put STOP-LEAK in the system, this only causes engine overheating problem. Instead, if you don't have the money to repair it right now, then you can have someone BY-PASS the heater core under the hood. This will give you time to save up for the proper repair. CAUTION: Do Not continue to drive it with that way because you are losing coolant everytime you drive the vehicle and will cause overheating and damage to your engine and that will be really costly. Hope this helps and have an awesome day Mary. To bad you don't live in the St Louis Mo area.
When you said that sometimes you smell coolant you do mean that whilst you are in car or with bonnet open in front of the engine?
If the smell you do get is whilst you are in car then means that you do have a coolant leak from the heater matrix. Check you floor mats whether are wet,if they are,means you do have a problem and the person who will help you is your electrician.
Unfortunately this will be kind of hard but, it sounds like you may have a blown head gasket depending on where on the passenger car it's leaking? Drive the car get it hot. Leave it running get out and pop the hood. Start looking for leaks. Use a powerful flashlight to help look. If it doesn't leak while you're driving and only after the car is shut off then I'd say you're creating a vacuum in the coolant system, change your coolant cap at that point.
The heater hose that run behind and below the engine has a plastic Y split where the hoses run to the thermostat and in to the firewall to the heater core. The plastic piece can crack and cause leaks as well as overheating. Easiest way to see it is standing on the driver side of the car and looking down behind the engine with a flashlight while it is running.
If you smell it in the cabin you probably have a leak in the heater core which is up under the dash. Look under the center portion of the dash on both sides and try pulling the carpet back in that area. Chances are you will find evidence of a small leak. Check all hoses for tightness that run along the firewall in the engine compartment as well.
That is the area the air conditioner vent drains. There aren't a lot of fluids possible - coolant, power steering fluid and transmission fluid are the only ones that would be in that position unless your windshield washer fluid leaks from the tubing. Brake fluid would be closer to the wheels. If the air conditioner runs at all it removes moisture from the passenger compartment and drains near the passenger side firewall. All the other fluids would hae a definite smell.
Air conditioning drain stopped up with debris (leaves,pine straw,sticks). Small tube sticking out from firewall with rubber elbow pointing down behind engine, passenger side. If elbow missing air will cause water to back up into vehicle. Another possibility, if your coolant is low heater core leaking.