Question about Buick Skylark

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I was driving a 1997 Buick Skylark Custom 3.1 less than 5K when white antifreeze smoke started filling inside the cabin of my car. It appeared to be coming from inside the dashboard and the windows were covered in condensation in no time. I continued the drive home which was right around the corner, and because it was late evening, I let it sit until the morning. I bought a premix of antifreeze and topped up the fluid when it started pouring out on the passenger side? The leak would be located about even with the back of the front passenger seat? What are the possibilities?

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  • lady_doris Aug 03, 2010

    A damaged hose is the most obvious 'guess' and I'm not looking for short term additive advice. I'm looking for expert advice on the mechanical front 'before' I get the vehicle taken to a garage tomorrow morning. Thank you anyway, and I appreciate your time and effort just the same.

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The "smoke" you saw was your coolant. The vehicle uses engine coolant piped into the cabin of the car and through a little radiator under the dash for the heater. The blower in your car forces air over this radiator and this heated air is what you feel at the vents.
If you're lucky then one of the hoses has sprung a leak. This is a relatively uncomplicated cheap fix. The other thing that could have happened is that the cabinheater radiator has sprung a leak. If the leak is serious then the heater radiator will need to come out for repair or replacement.
You could try running some radiator stop leak(I've used Wynn's before) through the system and see if it helps. If the leak is on the radiator it might just work. On the pipes it will not be successful. Buy a bottle at your local spare shop/Autozone. Put it in the cooling system(do not open a cooling system with the vehicle hot!) and let the vehicle idle for a while. (Read instructions on the bottle) If it does not work, have the heater radiator removed and repaired.

Posted on Aug 03, 2010

  • Rene Rossouw
    Rene Rossouw Aug 04, 2010

    There are 2 places the coolant can come from. The cabin heater radiator under your dash or the pipes leading to it so my "guess" would be pretty much spot-on.
    Your cooling system is now leaking and will cause the engine to overheat. I would not recommend driving the vehicle unless you have done something, short term or otherwise, about this leak. You could damage the engine and may even end up with a steam burn to boot.
    Please tell your mechanic to replace the cabin heater and its pipes after you have had the vehicle towed to his shop.

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Hi!!

Your heater core has a leak. The best way to fix this is replacing it with a new one.

Now if you do not need the heater right now, get a hose repai kit from any hardware (it is cheaper than the AutoParts), the kit comes with a nipple and two clamps. The nipple should be of the same inside diameter of your hose 5/8" or 3/4" are the most common sizes.

Under the hood, passenger side firewall, you'll see two hoses held by hose clamps, loosen the clamps and remove the hoses using a twisting motion and pulling at the same side, use the nipple and clamps to join the two hses together. Doing this will bypass the heater core. Once the leftover antifreeze is drained, your leak will disappear,

Good Luck!!!

Posted on Aug 03, 2010

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