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Old 02-12-2019, 05:11 PM   #1
SlayZombi
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2001 SL
Default Coolant Route Question

So for the bottom radiator house on a 2001 Saturn SL, is the coolant going from the block to the radiator or the radiator to the block? After developing a small leak after a hose/cooling/thermostat replacement, I tightened up some admittedly half-assed hose clamps that I apparently just said "F**k it" when I did the flush and change about a month ago. The coolant was coming from the thermostat housing and hose connection point. If the coolant goes from radiator to block, then it cause of the leak would most likely be the hose since the coolant would be pushing TOWARDS the connector and therefore could seep out of the hose much easier than if it was going from block to radiator at that specific connection point. Am I right in this thinking?

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Old 02-12-2019, 05:47 PM   #2
OldNuc
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1998 SC2
Default Re: Coolant Route Question

In the S-Series cooling system there are 4 separate but interconnected cooling flow loops, 3 external and 1 internal loop. These loops are in parallel with each other and all terminate at the water pump suction and the water pump provides the driving force to the coolant flow in all loops.

1) The deaeration line flow is from the water pump discharge into the block up into the head to the high point of the head(SOHC) or intake manifold(DOHC) to the reservoir then from the reservoir to the pump suction. Flow in this loop is continuous.

2) Heater loop flow is from the water pump discharge into the block up into the head to manifold to heater core to the pump suction and the reservoir also sits on this heater loop line. Flow in this loop is continuous.

3) Internal loop flow is from the water pump discharge into the block up into the head and back down from the head area through an internal passage to the pump suction. Flow in this loop is controlled by the thermostat secondary poppet which is of its seat to establish flow.

4) The radiator loop flow is from the water pump discharge into the block up into the head and out the head outlet into the radiator and back to the pump suction. Flow in this loop is controlled by the thermostat primary and secondary poppet, secondary closing/closed and primary open and controlling temperature.


The radiator loop(4) and internal loop(3) flow are both controlled simultaneously by the thermostat. As the radiator loop flow increases the internal loop flow decreases. The poppet on the back end of the thermostat is what moves to close the internal loop as the radiator loop flow opens. Both thermostat poppets move in the same direction, one is opening increasing loop flow as the other is closing reducing loop flow.

The total cooling system flow passes the ECTS so you should always know what the bulk coolant temperature is. The thermostat control element is sensing the coolant temperature in the water pump suction chamber.


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Old 02-12-2019, 06:55 PM   #3
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Coolant Route Question

It doesn't make any difference which way coolant flows as it leaks out. The entire cooling system is under pressure as the engine warms up to operating temperatures. Cooling system pressure can be anywhere from 15-18 psi, depending on coolant cap rating as specified in service manuals. Let's say yours is 15 psi - that's 15 psi everywhere coolant flows. A cooling system leak means 15 psi is pushing coolant out the weakest point in the system. You found the weak/failure point. Make repairs to eliminate the weak point to restore the system to hold pressure.

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Old 02-12-2019, 07:05 PM   #4
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Coolant Route Question

Below is the service manual description.
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Old 02-12-2019, 08:17 PM   #5
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2001 SL
Default Re: Coolant Route Question

Ok yes, so according to the picture and your replies it looks like 1) It does flow how I thought and 2) It doesn't actually matter which way it flows, it's about pressure.

I don't know if you followed my original logic. I was saying that since the coolant would flow towards a loose hose connector, it would seem much easier for coolant to seep out rather than the opposite. Because if it flowed PAST rather than TOWARD the loose connection the fluid would almost have to wrap around at a 180 degree turn to seep out. But I will take both of your words on it since you probably know what you are talking about. I did tighten all 4 clamps a turn or two so I will update and see where this goes from here. Thanks!

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