1999 Toyota Camry



February, 28, 2007 AT 10:49 AM


Marked URGENT, because I'm on a cross-country road trip, and have one more full day (about 400 miles) of driving ahead of me.

Last night, after about 400 miles of driving (fifth consecutive day), I noticed a strong coolant smell inside the passenger area of the vehicle.

Yes, I was operating the heater (and had run the A/C during the day - currently in TN, fairly warm during day, cold at night).

This morning, I started the car, popped the hood, and inspected everything I could think of (coolant, oil, leaks, temp. Gauge (inside car), sniffed for smell inside and out, checked for pooled coolant anywhere, checked hoses (connections, for holes) that I could easily see (hose inspection wasn't complete or professional. Just the best I could do as a " non car guy", with a fairly surface level inspection).

My MAIN question is: if I watch coolant levels, should the car be safe to drive (the 400 miles today gets me to my destination, where I can address the issue, as needed).

Beyond that, any other suggestions (is it safe to leave for a while? What is the likely cause, etc?)

Heater Core seems to be the main theory, around the web (and opinion seems to be, it's okay to drive, watching coolant).

I have to check out of my motel in just over an hour (Noon, CST, today, 02/28) -- so any answers before then, would be awesome - thanks.)

I should also note: I'm on an ULTRA-tight budget - so please factor that into your answer (if I could just plunk down a credit card to get the car checked out, I would - but don't have that option).

Thanks very much!

3 Answers



February, 28, 2007 AT 10:54 AM

Check for wetness on the passengers side carpet or floor mat, it seems the heater core may be leaking internally, if you need a quick fix you could clamp off the heater core hoses or get a 2 dollar bypass hose from the parts store and put both heater hoses on that bypassing the heater core but still having flow everywhere else, as far as the trip keep you eye on the coolant every once in a while, a neglected leak could cost you big if unattended to

thanks, jim

oh and if you are happy with the info please leave some feedback we all donate out time here helping people for free



February, 28, 2007 AT 11:03 AM

Thanks, Jim!

I'm very " non-mechanical", and not sure how to manage the by-pass clamp fix you advise (though can presumably figure it out, with a bit of time.)

My question for now: WITHOUT doing that fix, should the car be okay to drive, checking coolant levels, every so often? If so, how often? (Once an hour?)

Also, does running (or not) the A/C or Heat make a difference. I can adjust, as needed (i.E. Wear jacket in car, not run heater).


EDIT: 12: 10 PM, CST -- I checked passenger side floor, and it's completely dry. So, as far as I can tell, except for the smell itself (noticed last night, but not this morning, with the car running for a few minutes) - there aren't any other " telltale" signs of a major problem (though don't know that for sure --- hence my posts here.) Thanks Again.

Thanks again for any additional help!


PS - I will gladly make a small donation in the near future (+/- 2 weeks). I am currently unemployed, and on a critically tight budget (hence the nature of the " what can I get by with?&Quot; aspect of my questions). Thanks Again!



February, 28, 2007 AT 11:11 AM

The bypass fix is minimal you would need a screwdriver and a pair of pliers , its really like a "t"you would take off the hhoses at the heater core located on the firewall and place them on the t with two clamps totally eliminating the heater core and heat?? the cooling system is under constant pressure and the leak may get worse quick or it may not , if you keep and eye on the guages and check the coolant once an hour unless the leak gets worse i would suspect you could make the trip, oh and the doantion is up to you the feedback to me is just saying i helped you


t inbetween the heater hoses


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