What Is a UV Leak Detection Kit and How Does It Work?

What Is a UV Leak Detection Kit and How Does It Work?

6th Jan 2023

Mechanic checking car engine oil level during routine vehicle maintenance

Leaks are downright frustrating. Your vehicle is leaking fluid, you'll need to fix it as soon as possible. Allowing even minor leaks to go unnoticed can result in costly damage while potentially leaving you stranded on the side of the road. Before taking your vehicle to a mechanic, though, you may want to use an ultraviolet (UV) leak detection kit.

What Is a UV Leak Detection Kit?

A UV leak detection kit is exactly what it sounds like: a kit containing everything you need to find common automotive leaks via UV light. Before you can fix a leak, you'll need to find out where the leaking fluid is coming from. Maybe it's coming from a hose, or perhaps it's coming from a worn gasket. A UV leak detection kit simplifies the process of finding fluid leaks.

How UV Leak Detection Kits Work

They may sound complex, but UV leak detection kits use a simple process to detect leaks. Most of them come with UV-illuminated dye, a UV flashlight, UV glasses and, in some cases, an injection gun.

If you're dealing with a stubborn leak, you can add the UV-illuminated dye to your vehicle. The UV-illuminated dye will then mix with the remaining fluid. As the remaining fluid begins to leak, so will the UV-illuminated dye. Once the sun goes down -- or you can park in a dark garage -- you can put on the UV glasses and use the UV flashlight to find the leak. The UV flashlight will illuminate the dye.

The UV flashlight makes it easy to find fluid leaks. As you shine it over any leaked-out fluid, the flashlight will illuminate it. You can then pinpoint the origin of the leak so that you can get that part fixed.

Choosing the Right UV Leak Detection Kit: What You Should Know

When choosing a UV leak detection kit, you should check to ensure it's compatible with the problematic, leaking fluid. Most UV leak detection fluids are compatible with air conditioning (AC) system refrigerant. AC systems require refrigerant. Some vehicles use R134A refrigerant, whereas others use R1234YF refrigerant. The good news is that most UV leak detection kits are compatible with these common types of AC refrigerant.

In addition to AC refrigerant, some UV leak detection kits are compatible with engine oil, power steering fluid, coolant and even gasoline. Of course, you should choose a UV leak detection kit that's compatible with the fluid that's leaking out of your vehicle.