How to Find a Vacuum Leak
Vacuum leaks can cause a variety of engine problems, and pros charge money to find them. Here's how to track them down yourself—armed with nothing more than a spray bottle.
Photo: Family Handyman
Locating a vacuum leak
A vacuum leak can cause a rough idle, high RPM, poor gas mileage and even trigger a check-engine light. Pros find leaks by filling the engine with smoke and looking for wisps of it. But you can search for leaks on your own with an ordinary spray bottle using this technique.
Start the engine and spray
Scope out all the vacuum lines under the hood. Then start the engine and spray each connection with a light stream of water. If a connection sucks in the water, you’ve found your leak. Then get help at the parts and accessories department of the dealership where you bought your car or local auto centre to replace it, or do it yourself.
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