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Coolant in Reservoir, Not in Radiator Tube

 
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Old 09 Sep 2016, 01:06 pm
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Default Coolant in Reservoir, Not in Radiator Tube

Hi! I am a new forum user -- a music graduate student who is at my wit's end about car problems. The latest has multiple mechanics and 'citizen mechanics' completely puzzled.

2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser (non-turbo), 182,000 miles.

The neck/tube of the radiator is not holding coolant -- it all goes back up into the reservoir tank. After driving, the tank will be completely full while the neck is empty or nearly empty.

Two different mechanics have said there no leaks in the system and bled it to ensure no air was trapped. The car is not overheating regularly - I only knew there was a problem because it started overheating once I hit city traffic after a 3-hour drive this week. The motor oil looks normal - not watery or milky.

The thermostat and radiator cap were replaced a few weeks ago (mechanic replaced them while replacing the conked-out alternator that stranded me). I am planning to try a cap from the dealership this weekend just in case that is contributing to a vacuum issue.

Any suggestions?
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Old 09 Sep 2016, 01:12 pm
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Default Re: Coolant in Reservoir, Not in Radiator Tube

Welcome to the forum
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Old 09 Sep 2016, 01:27 pm
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Default Re: Coolant in Reservoir, Not in Radiator Tube

Quote:
Originally Posted by cricket12 View Post
Hi! I am a new forum user -- a music graduate student who is at my wit's end about car problems. The latest has multiple mechanics and 'citizen mechanics' completely puzzled.

2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser (non-turbo), 182,000 miles.

The neck/tube of the radiator is not holding coolant -- it all goes back up into the reservoir tank. After driving, the tank will be completely full while the neck is empty or nearly empty.

Two different mechanics have said there no leaks in the system and bled it to ensure no air was trapped. The car is not overheating regularly - I only knew there was a problem because it started overheating once I hit city traffic after a 3-hour drive this week. The motor oil looks normal - not watery or milky.

The thermostat and radiator cap were replaced a few weeks ago (mechanic replaced them while replacing the conked-out alternator that stranded me). I am planning to try a cap from the dealership this weekend just in case that is contributing to a vacuum issue.

Any suggestions?

Do a coolant pressure test & a head gasket test...after that, get the fan checked.



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Old 09 Sep 2016, 02:28 pm
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Default Re: Coolant in Reservoir, Not in Radiator Tube

[QUOTE=LionPT;624009]Do a coolant pressure test & a head gasket test...after that, get the fan checked.

+1

I would suggest doing the coolant pressure test first as LionPT posted and let us know what you find out. You are getting air in the coolant system and we need to find out why.

By the way welcome to the forum.
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Last edited by ptcruisersteve; 09 Sep 2016 at 02:36 pm.
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Old 09 Sep 2016, 02:49 pm
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Default Re: Coolant in Reservoir, Not in Radiator Tube

Why did the mechanic swap the cap and thermostat? The alternator job should not have indicated any cooling problems. I am not sure how confident you are, but you don't seem too thrilled with your mechanics or you wouldn't be trying others.

You can borrow the cooling system pressure tester from the local Auto Zone. They charge you a deposit and refund it when you return the tool. That tool will also test caps. It's possible that the return part of the cap is bad and not letting coolant back.

I have driven mine with numerous leaks, just filling it up as necessary. I think I put around 25,000 miles on it that way. Hopefully, <fingers crossed> I am through with those problems for the next 25-30K miles or so.
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Old 09 Sep 2016, 03:05 pm
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Default Re: Coolant in Reservoir, Not in Radiator Tube

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Originally Posted by Fk5 View Post
Why did the mechanic swap the cap and thermostat? The alternator job should not have indicated any cooling problems. I am not sure how confident you are, but you don't seem too thrilled with your mechanics or you wouldn't be trying others.

You can borrow the cooling system pressure tester from the local Auto Zone. They charge you a deposit and refund it when you return the tool. That tool will also test caps. It's possible that the return part of the cap is bad and not letting coolant back.

I have driven mine with numerous leaks, just filling it up as necessary. I think I put around 25,000 miles on it that way. Hopefully, <fingers crossed> I am through with those problems for the next 25-30K miles or so.
Radiator cap was replaced
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Old 09 Sep 2016, 03:53 pm
Fk5 Fk5 is offline
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Default Re: Coolant in Reservoir, Not in Radiator Tube

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Originally Posted by ptcruisersteve View Post
Radiator cap was replaced
I know, but why? Do you usually swap thermostats and radiator caps when you do an alternator job?
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Old 09 Sep 2016, 04:57 pm
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Default Re: Coolant in Reservoir, Not in Radiator Tube

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Originally Posted by Fk5 View Post
I know, but why? Do you usually swap thermostats and radiator caps when you do an alternator job?
I find most PT Cruisers have more than one problem when they come to our forum.
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Old 09 Sep 2016, 05:04 pm
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Default Re: Coolant in Reservoir, Not in Radiator Tube

Did you ever let the car cool completely down overnight and check the reservoir level again in the morning without opening up the radiator cap? Did the cooling system suck any coolant back in from the reservoir tank?
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Old 09 Sep 2016, 05:25 pm
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Default Re: Coolant in Reservoir, Not in Radiator Tube

Ah yes, to clarify! My boyfriend was driving the car a few weeks ago when it broke down 2 hours away from where I live. It was overheating and the battery light kept coming on, then the alternator gave out. So, that is why the mechanic dug around and replaced the thermostat and cap in addition to the alternator.

I have only been driving it very short distances around town since then, until I took it on a 3-hour trip. I returned on Tuesday, and upon hitting city traffic it overheated. That's when I discovered the neck/tube was dry. After 3 hours at the mechanic the next day -- checking for leaks, letting it run/idle but no overheating, bleeding the system to eliminate air bubbles -- all of the coolant levels were fine.

That night, I drove it to a gig an hour away -- had to put coolant in the neck before driving it back. That was Wednesday night, and I let the car sit and checked it this morning. The reservoir tank was much higher (well above the fill line), then I opened the radiator cap to find that the neck was nearly empty, yet again.
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