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Old 07-01-2020, 11:33 PM   #1
Blumengarten
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Default Where did my coolant disappear to?

Hi all! I'm not a mechanic, but I'm trying to learn and do simple things with your help, and RichPin videos.

I flushed the coolant two months ago, following the videos and advice on this forum, and have put about 20 miles on it since then (so little because of Covid, just half-mile round trips to the grocery store).

I drove the longest since I flushed it today, I was about 2 miles from home when I noticed the thermometer light on, and the temperature needle was up in the red. I pulled over, let it cool, and put in 1/2 gallon of pre-mixed coolant which I had left over. When I got to my destination, another 1 mile, I added about 1/2 gallon of water. I put on about 10 miles after that, and the temperature needle went up a little more than half-way, but the red thermometer light didn't come on.

I parked the car in my driveway for several hours, I put newspaper underneath it to see if there were any leaks, but I didn't see any. How did the coolant just disappear?

It's possible that the plastic drain cap underneath the radiator isn't good any more (it looks like it had been broken by the last person who changed the coolant). Could that be the source? But I think I should've seen some drips!
I tried to tighten everything, but it seemed pretty tight (I had also replaced the thermostat). Since I'm the only one who worked on that, obviously I did something wrong! Can you help me figure out why I lost my coolant when I can't find any drips?

Also, since it was an emergency, I used tap water today, though when I flushed it I used distilled ... will this be okay, or should I flush it again so it's only distilled water and coolant?

Thanks,
Lizzy

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Old 07-02-2020, 12:10 AM   #2
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Default Re: Where did my coolant disappear to?

Usually it sprays out the crack in the radiator near one of the auto-transmission cooler ports. If it's high enough on the radiator you might get away with keeping the radiator cap loose for a little while, if this is where yours is leaking. Some people have made a fix work that didn't require changing the radiator, but for the effort involved I'd just swap it out for a new one.

The other place it likes to spray out of on '00-'02 SC2/SL2/SW2's is the crack in the intake manifold coolant port. There's a guy on eBay (or...used to be on eBay, guess Dorman ran him over) that created and sells the repair kit for $55. Dorman ripped him off and made their own kit for $70ish (not the first time a big-name company has ripped off a custom fix for our S-Series).
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Old 07-02-2020, 12:28 AM   #3
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Default Re: Where did my coolant disappear to?

If you think the cap may be bad, then get that tested. Even if you don't have any reason to suspect the cap, testing it is pretty much one of the first things to do when losing coolant.

If it is the cap, you are not seeing any drip because the coolant is boiling away and disappearing as steam. It isn't really a leak that will cause a drip. Without the cap holding pressure, the system is like a pot on your stove.

Don't worry about using the tap water, assuming it comes from a municipal source. Any water good enough to drink will not bother the cooling system, especially for short term. I live in an area with very good water quality and have never, in 60 yrs, used anything other than tap water in both cooling systems and batteries.
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Old 07-02-2020, 07:26 AM   #4
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Default Re: Where did my coolant disappear to?

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Originally Posted by billr View Post
If you think the cap may be bad, then get that tested. Even if you don't have any reason to suspect the cap, testing it is pretty much one of the first things to do when losing coolant.
I doubt it's the pressure cap, and it's not the cap the OP was talking about any way. I'm assuming the OP was referring to the drain plug, since "bottom of the radiator" was mentioned. My 20 year old plug opened and resealed for me, but I bought a new one ahead of time.... which is probably why mine was fine

Quote:
Don't worry about using the tap water, assuming it comes from a municipal source. Any water good enough to drink will not bother the cooling system, especially for short term. I live in an area with very good water quality and have never, in 60 yrs, used anything other than tap water in both cooling systems and batteries.
I've very recently started using distilled, to see if it makes any differance for me, but any water is better than no water, even if it were out of a swamp.
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Old 07-02-2020, 10:00 AM   #5
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Default Re: Where did my coolant disappear to?

Billr, "in 60 yrs, used anything other than tap water in both cooling systems and batteries".
Same with me, only 53 years tho.
However; for the last 30 years, only used well water for everything.
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Old 07-02-2020, 11:39 AM   #6
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Default Re: Where did my coolant disappear to?

My mistake, I misread the OP's reference to the drain plug! Still, testing the cap is always a good "first step".

Private well-water is more iffy, so I used that "municipal" disclaimer. And let's not even talk about rain collected in cisterns or ponds... But I agree that good well-water could be OK, too.

"Any kind is better than too little" also applies to engine/trans oil. Don't let the machine get damaged because you can't find (or afford) your favorite super-duper type/brand right away.
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Old 07-02-2020, 02:40 PM   #7
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Default Re: Where did my coolant disappear to?

All my well water passes through a UV sterilizer before all the faucets.
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Old 07-02-2020, 07:33 PM   #8
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Default Re: Where did my coolant disappear to?

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Originally Posted by toggenburg View Post
All my well water passes through a UV sterilizer before all the faucets.
Why? I've heard of UV sterilizers on fish tanks, but not a well.
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Old 07-05-2020, 12:19 PM   #9
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Default Re: Where did my coolant disappear to?

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Why? I've heard of UV sterilizers on fish tanks, but not a well.
Kills the bugs

http://rainfresh.ca/product/uv-water...ation-systems/
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Old 07-05-2020, 01:32 PM   #10
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Default Re: Where did my coolant disappear to?

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I just never had any idea that was an issue for wells.
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