'98 A6 Q Wagon - antifreeze smell

Occasionally smell antifreeze in the car (passenger compartment) - is there anything besides a 'broken' heater core that can cause this?
Long version:
- noticed this past winter that the engine temp. wouldn't get very warm, maybe 1/3 of the way tops. Every once in a while it would get to half-way, at which time I'd notice an antifreeze smell while driving.
Now that it's warmer, I'm smelling the antifreeze smell more often, and actually had the warning indicator tell me I was low on antifreeze.
Sooo....there's definitely a loss of antifreeze, although a slow one. Any other suggestions besides replacing the heater core, which I expect to be fairly expensive (parts & labour)?
thanks!
Bart (Canada)
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You might have a very small (pin hole) leak int he cores that only leaks when there is a lot of pressure in the system. A lot of pressure is caused by it being too hot (bad thermostat) too much air in the system. the air compresses causes the excessive pressure. The low coolant is possibly due to the small leak.
I would replace the thermostat and while you are there replace the timing belt, water pump and tensioner pulley.
Tearing the core out varies in difficulty a lot between models. If yours is difficult I would consider adding some Stop Leak. Dost tell anyone that I said to do that :-) It worked just fine for my son's '98 A4 three + years ago and is still fine.
Bart Oleksy wrote:

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I've certainly experienced the antifreeze smell, but I forget if it was with my '95 or '98 (both 2.8 Q wagons). I think that the problem had something to do with the manifold - if that makes any sense. Sorry, but I am not a mechanic and have a poor memory.
Good Luck, Bob

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