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Losing Coolant

 
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  • 1 Post By Chriscokid
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Old 21 Sep 2013, 06:05 pm
Fk5 Fk5 is offline
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Default Losing Coolant

I have a new problem. '03 GT 5 speed. 116,000 miles. Had the timing belt and water pump etc, done around 100K. Excuse the novel, but...

Recently the car started running slightly hot. The first time it happened I dumped water in the overflow and under the cap and it cooled down. It was just getting up to the line over the middle on the gauge. I have an ultragauge and it eventually hit up to 240 which is when I shut it down. Initially I thought that filling the overflow was enough. There never seems to be any water under the car.

I filled the radiator which was also low and drove it for 4 hours stayed at 204 the whole time. What seems to happen is that the water drains out of the car when hot and then disappears. If I fill it, I can drive an indefinite period a/c on and no issues. I've driven NY to DC multiple times with no trouble.

If I start and stop it a few times it seems to need water. I'm assuming that it is pushing the water out and not sucking it back as it cools. The pressure on the cap doesn't seem high - you can pull the cap with the car fairly hot with no trouble. I started measuring the amount of water it takes and it is right around 1.5 liters.

Recently I did a couple of starts and it seemed fine, but as I had not filled after my test run and my trip to work it was a little high 212-225. Stopped for gas and the temp started rising. I could see on the ultragauge that it was around 235 and up and it was rising over the mid-level on the factory gauge. Stopped when it hit 240. I let it cool down and since I was on the side of the road I didn't let it cool too much and when I started putting water in the overflow it was just dumping on the floor. I couldn't see where it was coming from. Crack in the overflow or the hose. Drove it hours and it never went over 212.

I have since resorted to just filling it whenever it cools down and it seems to run fine and never gets over 212. Usually it runs at 204 or so. I think it lets the car get up to 212 before the fan starts running. The factory idiot gauge doesn't leave the middle until it is pushing 225. I simply can't find any leak. I guess I will have to pull the overflow and hose, but is there an easy way to tell what it is? It could be the cap. I've dealt with plenty of rough cars, but I'm no mechanic and have (knock wood) not had many cooling issues.

Any ideas on the best places to start? Can autozone or one of those places test the cap?
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Old 21 Sep 2013, 06:35 pm
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Default Re: Losing Coolant

Kinda weird isn't it? I'd go ahead and just buy new cap and see what happens
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Old 21 Sep 2013, 07:54 pm
Fk5 Fk5 is offline
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Default Re: Losing Coolant

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Originally Posted by Chriscokid View Post
Kinda weird isn't it? I'd go ahead and just buy new cap and see what happens
I guess I will, but I was hoping that somebody might have an idea why the coolant was blowing right out of the overflow when the car was hot. I guess it is possible the overflow was overfull at that point. I thought it would indicate a leak other than at the cap.

FWIW, my overflow seems to be held on by one nut, not two and it doesn't seem to be a 10mm. It's one of those weird studs with a nut that is hard to access. Guess I will try a new cap and cut an inch of the overflow hose and stick it back on as suggested in another thread.
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Old 22 Sep 2013, 08:10 am
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Default Re: Losing Coolant

Coolant blows out the overflow because it's the easiest outlet to get to. Mine did that when the radiator fan quit. I took a 90 mile ride to Orlando to meet up with some friends many years ago and not until I reached the destination did I hear the gurgling sound of overheating and splashing sound of most of the red coolant spitting out the overflow tube all over the engine.

The whole thing is due to something causing your PT to overheat of which there's a whole list....non-working radiator fan, radiator car, loss of coolant, air in the coolant system, non-functioning water pump, blocked or partially blocked radiator and last but not least, a cracked head gasket.
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Old 23 Sep 2013, 03:47 pm
Fk5 Fk5 is offline
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Default Re: Losing Coolant

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Originally Posted by CREWZIN View Post
Coolant blows out the overflow because it's the easiest outlet to get to. Mine did that when the radiator fan quit. I took a 90 mile ride to Orlando to meet up with some friends many years ago and not until I reached the destination did I hear the gurgling sound of overheating and splashing sound of most of the red coolant spitting out the overflow tube all over the engine.

The whole thing is due to something causing your PT to overheat of which there's a whole list....non-working radiator fan, radiator car, loss of coolant, air in the coolant system, non-functioning water pump, blocked or partially blocked radiator and last but not least, a cracked head gasket.
It doesn't overheat. The temperature only rises if it is low on coolant. It has never "overheated" but it has started to run hot, at which point I had to let it cool and refill. I know most of the potential the reasons, but I am trying to narrow it down.

The fact is, if I fill the cooling system and bleed it, I can drive the car indefinitely and it will not run hot. As in HOURS of driving in 90 degree weather with the A/C on without the temperature rising past 204. This makes me think that the problem is the water leaving the rad when hot and then not getting sucked back as it cools. The thing that makes me wonder about this is the fact that in the old non-recovery systems they would lose a certain amount and satbilize and be fine. This car seems to continue losing and slowly run hotter. Is there a reason it would keep pushing out the overflow even when low on coolant?

I am hoping <fingers crossed> that it is the cap and that a replacement will do it. I was thinking that the fact that when hot the water poured out the recovery tank on the floor was a hint, but now I think it might have just been that the tank was full and extra water poured in was just going out the overflow.

Of course, maybe it is just something more serious and slowly getting worse...
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Old 23 Sep 2013, 04:01 pm
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Default Re: Losing Coolant

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Originally Posted by Fk5 View Post
It doesn't overheat. It has never "overheated" but it has started to run hot, at which point I had to let it cool and refill.
Your saying it "never" overheated but from what you said, it sure would have if you hadn't kept an eye on the temp gauge, so it's close enough to that point where the coolant with resulting steam pressure wants to go somewhere and the overflow tank is (as I said) the easiest place to get out.

Your loosing coolant somewhere and not from the overflow bottle until it starts to overheat so I'd look around all over, especially around the cap and the plastic piece under the cap that runs down to the thermostat (known weak point) and look for signs of whitish dried fluid either running down from the cap or around the bottom where the thermostat is. If nothing. it might be a very small break in the head gasket leaking a tiny bit at a time into the combustion chamber and being burned off without the telltale signs out the tailpipe.
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Old 25 Sep 2013, 04:56 pm
Fk5 Fk5 is offline
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Default Re: Losing Coolant

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Originally Posted by CREWZIN View Post
Your saying it "never" overheated but from what you said, it sure would have if you hadn't kept an eye on the temp gauge, so it's close enough to that point where the coolant with resulting steam pressure wants to go somewhere and the overflow tank is (as I said) the easiest place to get out.

Your loosing coolant somewhere and not from the overflow bottle until it starts to overheat so I'd look around all over, especially around the cap and the plastic piece under the cap that runs down to the thermostat (known weak point) and look for signs of whitish dried fluid either running down from the cap or around the bottom where the thermostat is. If nothing. it might be a very small break in the head gasket leaking a tiny bit at a time into the combustion chamber and being burned off without the telltale signs out the tailpipe.

When I say never, what I meant was that if I make sure it is full and bleed, I can drive it all day without the temperature moving even slightly up. It seems to lose coolant when/as it cools. It also seems to lose the same amount of coolant whether it is after a 7 hour trip or a 20 minute trip. As long as it gets up to temp it will lose 1.5 liters. I say seems because I tend to agree that I must be mistaken - fingers crossed it's not the head gasket.

As for temps, what do these things normally run at? I can see that the idiot gauge will be dead middle from around 195 - 225. The car seems to run up to 212-217 ( I assume that is when the thermostat opens) and then drop to around 204 and generally stay there. It may hunt around in a range between 195-208 depending on outside temp/stuck in traffic etc. Anybody else with an ultragauge keep track?
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Old 26 Sep 2013, 09:25 am
Fk5 Fk5 is offline
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Default Re: Losing Coolant

Okay. Some "progress." Put a new radiator cap and drove it around. Temp was perfect, not visible leaks. Parked it and it seemed fine. Came back and there was a puddle. It seemed to be under the driver's side but upon further examination it was dripping into the bottom of the bumper and then dripping out. It seems to be coming from the radiator, but I will have to get it up to check it out. The hoses seemed dry. The radiator cap made some difference. Temperatures were about 4-5 degrees cooler.
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Old 26 Sep 2013, 09:50 am
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Default Re: Losing Coolant

Someone just posted a photo of a leak they were having from the radiator and we've heard it before. The radiator has (I think) two different metals, one being the copper top part of the radiator and the other being the aluminum body or core and it seems to leak where the two different metals meet.
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