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Old 10-24-2018, 01:16 AM   #1
JFS
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2008 Astra XR
Default "Low Coolant" Message

Since I have had this car, I have had a low coolant message a couple times on the screen. Both times, the coolant level was right at the low marking, and about ten ounces of H20 added seemed to make the difference.

This happened again this past week and of course I added more water. In this case, the message came right back on within a half hour of operation, but the coolant level was fine. I have had it stay on for a couple days, where I dismiss it in the cabin via the infotainment system knob, but it regularly returns. The car is responding normally by getting up to operating temperature in a normal time and it is not overheating (confirmed with OBD2 device and the Torque app.).

Being a good Boy Scout (Actually I got thrown out of Boy Scouts in Wisconsin because at 2:00 am, 7-8 of us took the biggest innertube at camp and paddled a half mile over to where the Girls Scouts had their camp), I had a new thermostat and O-ring already on hand. I followed Chris Fixx's Superflush method on YouTube (you know, the guy who drinks wudder) and have put on about 200 miles since. I have been melting a bit because I have made sure to have the heat on high for 50-60 of those miles.Duplicate situation on proper temp range and time to get up to temperature, but there is still notifications popping up and nearly the same rate.

I have tried "belching" the tubes, but cannot hear any air movement. I am curious if the car has bleed valves for air that I am missing. I think a Russian video show them on an Opel Diesel Mk 5.

So I am throwing this out to the rabid and versatile hive mind present on this forum, as I gently ask......

For some freaking help!!

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Old 10-24-2018, 01:32 AM   #2
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Default Re: "Low Coolant" Message

Somehow, I did fail at making clear I actually installed the new thermostat and gasket.

Just soze youse knows.

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Old 10-24-2018, 02:08 PM   #3
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Default Re: "Low Coolant" Message

My mechanic said coolant runs through the heater core 100% of the time in the z18xer so running heat does not change coolant circulation.

Also I read that getting the airbubbles out of this system is a bit of work. There are posts here of others doing a full coolant flush so do a search. My mechanic said garages today use some type of vacuum system so bubbles are not an issue for them.

___
The "low coolant" message is a popular error in these cars. The sensor in the tank fails. You can try removing and cleaning the tank but that does not always work. There are plenty of posts and maybe a video on that. You can also replace the tank with an identical one.

Or simply disconnect the sensor wires (I think I soldiered a jumper wire but can't remember) and made the connection weatherproof. This requires that you keep an eye on coolant level manually looking under the hood.

If you have an automatic transmission, this is a bit more critical in my view due to the cooling-transmission fluid mixing debacle.

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Old 10-26-2018, 09:04 AM   #4
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Default Re: "Low Coolant" Message

AstraFasta,

I think there is something to your explanation that the tank and sensor needs cleaning. And I had missed the fact about constant circulation through the heater core. Thanks for next time.

I have had the Prestone cleaning and flush product in for five days now and I have not had a "Low Coolant" notification since just after I put up that post. I think the sensor got cleaned and I have not needed to add a drop. The solution in the tank looks like a brew I would not want to drink. I'm going by my DIY garage this morning and flushing the system at least 2-3 times.

I think my choice with what I am replacing instead of using Dex-Cool could be controversial. Instead of a 50:50 mix of anything, I'm choosing to use Valvoline's Pro-V Racing "Super Coolant" product. My Astra is no longer going to Tahoe and it has been 15 years since the Santa Clara Valley had a freeze long enough to influence cars. So I am only concerned with heat and corrosion protection. The Pro V has just a bit of ethylene glycol and asks for a 10% dilution. I will be watching things close while attempting an 11-12% dilution and do a change in a year for good measure.

Thanks again.

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Old 11-01-2018, 08:59 PM   #5
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Default Re: "Low Coolant" Message

Quote:
Originally Posted by JFS View Post
Since I have had this car, I have had a low coolant message a couple times on the screen. Both times, the coolant level was right at the low marking, and about ten ounces of H20 added seemed to make the difference.

This happened again this past week and of course I added more water. In this case, the message came right back on within a half hour of operation, but the coolant level was fine. I have had it stay on for a couple days, where I dismiss it in the cabin via the infotainment system knob, but it regularly returns. The car is responding normally by getting up to operating temperature in a normal time and it is not overheating (confirmed with OBD2 device and the Torque app.).

Being a good Boy Scout (Actually I got thrown out of Boy Scouts in Wisconsin because at 2:00 am, 7-8 of us took the biggest innertube at camp and paddled a half mile over to where the Girls Scouts had their camp), I had a new thermostat and O-ring already on hand. I followed Chris Fixx's Superflush method on YouTube (you know, the guy who drinks wudder) and have put on about 200 miles since. I have been melting a bit because I have made sure to have the heat on high for 50-60 of those miles.Duplicate situation on proper temp range and time to get up to temperature, but there is still notifications popping up and nearly the same rate.

I have tried "belching" the tubes, but cannot hear any air movement. I am curious if the car has bleed valves for air that I am missing. I think a Russian video show them on an Opel Diesel Mk 5.

So I am throwing this out to the rabid and versatile hive mind present on this forum, as I gently ask......

For some freaking help!!
Sorry, a little off topic. What Boy Scout camp did your little misadventure happen? It was not Gardner Dam, that is on a river, maybe Bear Paw Lake or Camp Rokilio?

...
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Old 11-11-2018, 11:36 PM   #6
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Default Re: "Low Coolant" Message

PaulR, I do believe it was Camp Rokillo. My Troop was in Brown Deer, WI and I remember seeing the stacks at Port Washington on the way up before we diverged. We must have taken 43 to 57 north.

My big brother encouraged me to join a marching band instead, where they had leggy girls in boots in the color guard and twirlers wearing one-piece bathing suits all year round. Just what a former 11-12 year old Star scout needed at the time.

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Old 11-12-2018, 12:05 AM   #7
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Default Re: "Low Coolant" Message

Well, after three weeks with the new coolant aboard, I found my coolant absolutely clouded with dark precipitate.

Damn.

As stated, I ran the Prestone product twice with five flushes/changes of solution each time. I am having a difficult time remembering my solutions chemistry and rates of reaction of Fe2 and Fe4 solutions and whether this type of product is a chelating agent like EDTA or an acid like citric acid (C6H8O7?). I am betting on the acid, because of the black precipitate. I believe an EDTA solution removing rust would have a red color to it. I need a smart sophomore chemistry student to ask, but all the kids in my family are beyond that now.

Part of me is happy to keep seeing participate loosening and dislodged, then into my bucket after flushing (https://goo.gl/sxupKQ). This photo link shows the first water flush after I decided to dump my new coolant and try anew. The question is whether to:

1.) Just keep flushing the system everyday for a week (I'm using deionized water from work) or until clear, or

2.) Try a second flushing product, this time from Evapo-Rust (https://www.evapo-rust.com/thermocure/).

I am hauling so much water to have it recycled I feel like I am in another century hoisting these containers to the county pit.


All thoughts and advice welcome.

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Old 11-12-2018, 12:29 AM   #8
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Default Re: "Low Coolant" Message

The Saab garage that repaired my Astra's cooling circuit did the following, as best I recall:

1. Flush with water a few times.

2. Added a coolant flush chemical and asked me to drive for a week or two, with significant highway miles.

3. Replaced virtually all the hoses (the two hoses to the heater core are NLA. Replaced coolant tank for visual purposes. Can't recall exactly at what stage he replaced the hoses.

4. Flushed with water again.

5. Added new Dex-Cool. He said this worked fine for him, just need to follow proper maintenance.

That was about 18 months ago and coolant is still perfectly clean.

A master mechanic buddy told me that modern rubber cooling hoses are essentially "lifetime" products. But, modern hoses tend to swell/sweat/fail rapidly if oil gets inside (e.g. contaminated coolant, in my case transmission oil leaked into coolant). Actually he told me to junk the car after the transmission oil failure due to risk with contaminated hoses and gaskets; he refused to do the work lol.

If you had no oil or contaminants in the coolant and your hoses don't look swollen/sweating I would keep the old hoses. Otherwise you might consider some quality aftermarket replacements (the OEM hoses cost me a small fortune).

Finally, the yellow cap on my plastic tank failed. I replaced that for $20 shipped and it seems to be a part with a limited lifetime based on Euro forums. If you are doing all this coolant maintenance, I would replace the cap. Check my recent posts for part numbers (for the Automatic model). Else, the codes are stamped on the black plastic of the cap; note there are similar looking caps with a variety of PSI specs.

Good luck

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Old 11-13-2018, 10:27 PM   #9
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Default Re: "Low Coolant" Message

Quote:
Originally Posted by JFS View Post
PaulR, I do believe it was Camp Rokillo. My Troop was in Brown Deer, WI and I remember seeing the stacks at Port Washington on the way up before we diverged. We must have taken 43 to 57 north.

My big brother encouraged me to join a marching band instead, where they had leggy girls in boots in the color guard and twirlers wearing one-piece bathing suits all year round. Just what a former 11-12 year old Star scout needed at the time.
JFS... Yup, you would have taken I-43 North then WI-57 North going up to Camp Rokilio. They split off at Saukville near Port Washington. I was in a Fox Cities troop and we alternated between Garner Dam and Bear Paw camps. For me growing up in the 1970's, it was just not fair to be an early teen boy and be among teen girls in the summertime.

...
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Old 11-18-2018, 05:58 PM   #10
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Default Re: "Low Coolant" Message

Thank you AstraFasta.

I did not know when I started this thread that I would be nearly a month along the process and still dealing with flushing properly after three weeks. I should note that a thread started by smwalker (http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=187195) has been very useful to me. In it, he suggests a 7/16th inch tube to fit the smaller outlet that drains first when loosening the petcock valve, lest the solution dribble onto the dorsal side of the fascia that controls turbulence and then onto the garage floor or ground outside of whatever you are using for containment.

I found that hard to find locally and tried to get by with a 1/2" tube, but things were messy. I ordered a one foot length 7/16th diameter silicone tube (food quality, liked by home brewers) from Amazon and had it for $5.85 delivered in six days. Very flexible and makes all the difference. Available from a vendor called OCSParts (https://goo.gl/yyX1KY).

So I went ahead using the Evapo-Rust product (https://www.evapo-rust.com/thermocure/). I was not prepared for the additional amount of black particulate produced by driving 180 miles over three days with this in the cooling system. It looks like I disintegrated a large charcoal filter in water and added this to the coolant tank. After draining the first time, the smaller outlet first opened by petcock valve is clogged with debris and the coolant tank has quite a bit of residue as well.

This product lives up to its complaints online as to the strong garlic type smell. The MSDS sheet online notes it having a "proprietary" formulation, but I know DMSO when I smell it. In my car, I seem only able to drain about half the volume of whatever is in the system at a time, just a gallon at a time. So I will go by the dilution standard and do five flushes total. I believe this will leave me with 1.25% or less of the DMSO before I move on to adding new coolant.

Sorry I have no pictures for this update.

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Old 11-24-2018, 01:03 PM   #11
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Default Re: "Low Coolant" Message

So... I'm not sure if you solved your original problem or got sidetrack with coolant system flushes.

My experience with this message was about the time I got the car, maybe 4 years ago.

My mechanic at the time was more of a pragmatist, just over file to about 3/8" above the full mark. This was pretty successful, except when going up steep hills or in my parking space which had quite the tilt.

My research, mostly on the EU and UK sites, turned up several things. Reportedly there was a software update, as the test criteria was to sensitive, generating false messages. Additionally there were reports of a redesigned coolant reservoir bottle, as the float was known to bind on the stem inside the bottle. The binding was further aggravated by the slug that builds up in the tank. Still more, the sensor has a very narrow activation range. I confirmed this using a small magnet on the senor. About 1mm between open and closed.

I never did the software, or replaced the tank. Replaced the sensor ($125 if I remember). Message back in a couple of days. Tried one round of flushing. Even took the bottle out and did a serious cleaning of the inside. Didn't make much difference, if any.

In the end my solution was to unseat the sensor from its home position leaving it about 1/4" below where it should be. Once in awhile I do a visual check.

After 4 years my coolant level is still fine, and I still have some goo in the tank. I know I should be all over this, but... I also have a S-Series wagon that's turned 21, 330K Kilometers on it, and it too has goo in the tank.

My Astra has always thrown codes with every season change, then its quiet again. I'd be broke if I changed everything the ECU told me was broken. Bought a scanner instead. It and my old Netbook go for road trips with me when I have to drive to the city.

Probably not that useful to you, but...

...
~I'm not an authority on anything~

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