DIAGNOSE – THERE IS A LIQUID ON THE FLOORBOARD OF MY CAR By Carl
SYMPTOM SUMMARY There is a liquid present on the floorboard of the vehicle. The fluid may be green or clear and may be more noticeable after operating the heating or air conditioning system.
USUAL CAUSE Water present on the floorboard is usually caused by one of two things. Water is circulated into the passenger compartment through the heater core. The heater core is heated by the engine coolant. Air is then blown over the heater core, by the blower motor when the heater is on, to heat the passenger compartment. If this core develops a leak, it will usually leak into the passenger compartment floorboard. A heater core that has only a pin-hole sized leak, may not be leaking on the floor but may produce a fine mist or oily film that collects on the inside of the windshield. The evaporator core is also located in the same housing as the heater core. During normal air conditioning operation water will condense on the core. This water is normally drained out of the passenger compartment through a evaporator drain hose. The hose connects from the evaporator case inside the vehicle to the exterior of the vehicle at the rear of the engine compartment. If this hose becomes restricted, the water that condenses on the evaporator core will leak into the passenger compartment. This is usually clean water that will evaporate as opposed to coolant that will not evaporate and leave an oily film on the floorboard carpet.
You should verify the type of leak present. The heater core contains coolant that will feel oily and may have a green color to it. Water from the evaporator core will be clear with no color. Taking a white piece of paper and absorbing some of the fluid may help determine the fluid type.
The only corrective action for a leak in the heater core is replacement. Do not use radiator stop leak or other sealant products in an attempt to fix a leak in the heater core. If the fluid is clear, the evaporator drain tube may be restricted or plugged. This hose is usually visible at the lower rear of the engine compartment on the right (passenger) side of the vehicle. You can inspect and/or clear the blockage by passing a piece of stiff wire through the end of the hose.
PRECAUTIONS, TIPS, and NOTES
A heater core that is leaking cannot be repaired and must be replaced. On most vehicles, replacing the heater core is an extensive and time-consuming project that may require special tools. The evaporator core that contains the refrigerant (Freon) for the air conditioner may be contained in the same housing as the heater core. On these vehicles, the housing is removed as a single unit and requires the refrigerant to be removed from the air conditioning system using special equipment. You should consult a repair manual specific to your vehicle or consult the advice of a professional technician prior to undertaking this job.