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Old 07-26-2017, 10:10 AM   #1
Cavell
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2004 VUE 3.5L
2003 VUE 3.0L
Default surge tank

02 vue, 3.0. is the coolant tank by battery really a surge tank or is it a reservoir? it has 2 hoses so i think is a flow thru surge tank? i have coolant to cold line. than let motor get hot and the level rises about 1" and it does seem to flow/agitate while motor is running. is this normal? my kid has identical vue/motor but i never really look at motor idling for kicks. just wondering if the coolant level rise while hot is normal? i did have heads off for valve issue so i am not 100% positive all is well with cooling system.

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Old 07-26-2017, 11:29 AM   #2
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: surge tank

I use both terms but technically it's a surge tank since it's part of the closed cooling system.

From the service manual;
Surge Tank
The surge tank is a plastic tank that the pressure cap mounts onto. The tank is mounted at a point higher than all other coolant passages. The surge tank provides an air space in the cooling system. The air space allows the coolant to expand and contract. The surge tank also provides a coolant fill point and a central air bleed location. During vehicle use, the coolant heats and expands. The coolant that is displaced by this expansion flows into the surge tank. As the coolant circulates, air is allowed to exit. This is an advantage to the cooling system. Coolant without bubbles absorbs heat much better than coolant with bubbles.

Pressure Cap
The pressure cap seals the cooling system. It contains a blow off or pressure valve and a vacuum or atmospheric valve. The pressure valve is held against its seat by a spring, which protects the radiator from excessive cooling system pressure. The vacuum valve is held against its seat by a spring, which permits opening of the valve to relieve vacuum created in the cooling system as it cools off. The vacuum, if not relieved, might cause the radiator and/or coolant hoses to collapse.

The pressure cap allows cooling system pressure to build up as the temperature increases. As the pressure builds, the boiling point of the coolant increases. Engine coolant can be safely run at a temperature much higher than the boiling point of the coolant at atmospheric pressure. The hotter the coolant is, the faster the heat transfers from the radiator to the cooler, passing air.

The pressure in the cooling system can get too high. When the cooling system pressure exceeds the rating of the pressure cap, it raises the pressure valve, venting the excess pressure.

As the engine cools down, the temperature of the coolant drops and a vacuum is created in the cooling system. This vacuum causes the vacuum valve to open, allowing outside air into the surge tank. This equalizes the pressure in the cooling system with atmospheric pressure, preventing the radiator and coolant hoses from collapsing.

Cooling Cycle
Coolant flows from the radiator outlet and into the water pump inlet. Some coolant flows from the water pump, to the heater core, then back to the water pump. This provides the passenger compartment with heat and defrost capability as the coolant warms up.

Coolant also flows from the water pump outlet and into the engine block. In the engine block, the coolant circulates through the water jackets surrounding the cylinders where it absorbs heat.

The coolant then flows through the cylinder head gasket openings and into the cylinder heads. In the cylinder heads, the coolant flows through the water jackets surrounding the combustion chambers and valve seats, where it absorbs additional heat.

From the cylinder heads, the coolant flows to the thermostat. The flow of coolant will either be stopped at the thermostat until the engine reaches normal operating temperature, or it will flow through the thermostat and into the radiator where it is cooled. At this point, the coolant flow cycle is completed.

Efficient operation of the cooling system requires proper functioning of all cooling system components.

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Old 07-26-2017, 01:39 PM   #3
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Default Re: surge tank

ok, good details. so, how much does the level rise from cold to hot? my caddy had the same design but they called it a settling tank. to remove aeration from the coolant. it used to be translucent but they made it black to reduce the amount of comments from somewhat observant caddy owners about why the fluid looked so funky. dexcool and all that.

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Old 07-26-2017, 04:29 PM   #4
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: surge tank

Hahah, I can understand why anyone asks simple questions dealer service personnel don't or won't take the time to answer. A black coolant tank may work only if the low coolant level is guaranteed to work otherwise a dead coolant level sensor and running low on coolant may make someone unhappy if an engine suffers mechanical failure from an overheated condition without warning.

The surge tank being translucent allows a quick glance to check on coolant level without guessing and before running low enough to trigger the low coolant sensor. The only thing to know about coolant level is to ensure coolant is either at the cold level mark on hot level mark. The difference would be how much coolant expands. As long as coolant level meets the coolant mark, all's well.

On my L300 (V6), my cold coolant level is at the horizontal seam. When hot, coolant level is above it, approximately half an inch higher. My system amount is close if not exactly the same as S-series, just under two gallons. Smaller surge tank, greater differences between cold and hot. Larger surge tank, smaller differences. What matters is coolant temps, not cold/hot levels.

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Old 07-26-2017, 04:43 PM   #5
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Default Re: surge tank

my system was pretty low since heads were off. yes there is some in block. i poured in about 1 gal that i captured from draining the radiator. i did spill a good amount when i drained system. so i ran motor and added maybe 1qt more 2 days ago. yesterday i added maybe 1/2 qt when cold. today it is at cold mark. i will run it to temp today and check the level tomorrow.

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Old 07-27-2017, 12:36 PM   #6
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2004 VUE 2.2L
Default Re: surge tank

After replacing my thermostat I added coolant to the upper rad hose, then poured some into the head/block from the rad hose port using cardboard to funnel it in. Worked well enough I only had to top off the tank once after burping the system and warming it up. Once it reaches a stable level you shouldn't have to add more all of the sudden unless there is a leak.

IMO there really isn't a difference from one tank to another in modern cars they all perform identical functions no matter what they want to call it. The cooling system pressurizes the closer to boiling point you get. Need some way to let out the extra volume so pressure doesn't spike and blow out seals while keeping it contained to suck back in once cooled off so air doesn't get into the system.

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