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No fluid in my radiator

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Old 17 Jun 2009, 10:49 pm
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 21
Default No fluid in my radiator

Having overheating problems as stated in my prev thread so I let the car cool down over the past couple hours and I went and checked the radiator by removing the silver cap and I don't see any fluid at all I have put 50/50 directly in the radiator earlier today so where did it go? My fiance has another kind of car but he opened up his radiator and sure enough he has visible fluid in his. Why do I not have any fluid in the radiator but LOTS of fluid in the reservoir?
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Old 18 Jun 2009, 06:49 am
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Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 27,757
Default Re: No fluid in my radiator

When you overheat (probably because of air in the system which replaces the lost coolant) the rest of the coolant boils and expands and when you shut the engine down it has to go somewhere so it spills over to the reservoir. That's what it's there for. Your loosing coolant and if you can't find any sign of where it's going it's bad news. It's probably leaking into the cylinders from a cracked head gasket. That's my theory. Look ALL over the engine and upper and lower radiator hoses and around the radiator cap for a sign of a leak (green dried fluid).

YES. The fluid (antifreeze) should be right up to the top, and only a certain kind of antifreeze. When you look into the radiator all your seeing is the air that shouldn't be there and like I said, when you add "the right type" of antifreeze, the system has to be bled of excess air. There's a bleed valve right below the radiator cap. First, fix the leak or you'll be throwing your money for new antifreeze away.
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Last edited by CREWZIN; 18 Jun 2009 at 07:07 am.
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Old 18 Jun 2009, 08:11 am
Cool Cruiser
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Augusta, GA
Posts: 234
Default Re: No fluid in my radiator

Make sure it's not going into the oil, as in blown head-gasket....
2005 Limited Turbo-Lite, auto in Cool Vanilla
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Old 18 Jun 2009, 09:45 am
Cool Cruiser
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 394
Default Re: No fluid in my radiator

Another thing - smell the exhaust. Well don't huff it, but if it smells sweet or humid - you might be burning it up - i.e. blown head gasket. Compare it to another car. It's quite distinct.

Note: Normal operation is such - the car drives and gets warm, then up to operating temp. The radiator cap is the "weak link" in the sealed system. As it gets hot the coolant expands. Once the pressure in the system reaches the pressure listed on the cap, it opens a valve to the coolant reservoir and lets a bit out until the pressure is under that on the cap. When the car cools down it experiences a negative pressure and pulls back in any lost coolant. If it had lost a LOT and the coolant bottle overflowed (or has a hole), than it would suck air. This is what happens when the radiator cap has failed and is either open or opens way too early.

Normally after a coolant change or a flush refill - you'll need to check and top it off a couple times as its quite difficult to get all the air out. Your PT should be absolutely filled to the brim of the radiator cap. Anything missing and there is a hole in the system somewhere, either into the engine oil, the combustion chamber (aka head gasket blown) - or in the radiator itself, a hose, or the water pump gasket, or bearing (or via a bad cap as above). These are really the only places coolant can go.

SO check the oil - if it looks light grey and sludgy you've got a bad problem and need the heads off. Same goes for sweet exhaust as above.

Otherwise you must find the hole - it might only leak when at temperature.


Why do I not have any fluid in the radiator but LOTS of fluid in the reservoir?

This reads "get a new radiator cap" to me. Read my "normal operation" paragraph above for why. If its opening too soon, nothing is to say that it would actually work the other way. In fact a bad cap wouldn't suck at all. Well it sucks, but it wouldn't get coolant back into the radiator.

Last edited by bobdole369; 18 Jun 2009 at 09:47 am.
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