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Old 10-14-2010, 06:22 PM   #1
brapple
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Default low coolant warning/sensor

Hi guys. I'm trying to figure out a problem with my fiance's 2004 Ion sedan w/137k miles. recently the low coolant warning will turn on randomly while the vehicle is being driven. The coolant level has been checked and is ok.

I have been reading a number of threads that indicate that the sensor goes bad and that the coolant tank needs to be replaced.

my question would be is the sensor actually going bad? a number of threads indicated the warning would always be on or when cold. I didn't read anything about when the engine is at temp and it randomly turning on briefly.


Also is there some trick to getting the tank out? I went to do this last weekend to clean the tank as suggested and I wasn't able to get the tank out and didn't mess with it to much as I didn't want to get into a situation where the vehicle couldn't be driven. Anyway it appeared that there where only two bolts holding the tank in. The one on the fender was not ans issue, however the one on the strut tower was. I removed the nut but the tank wouldn't release. does the stud or some thing else need to be removed? Should the tank be slotted on that mounting point to slide out of the bracket?

Thanks for the input.

...
2004 Ion 3 Sedan

2k Ford SVT Contour
99 Ford Contour - 3L+turbo
99 Ford Contour Se Sport

Last edited by brapple; 10-14-2010 at 06:29 PM..

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Old 10-14-2010, 09:02 PM   #2
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Default Re: low coolant warning/sensor

Haven't done this myself yet... and I'm sure having it out would provide the best option for cleaning... but have you tried a simple drain/cleaner/rinse/refill with the tank in place?

Maybe with the help of a decent cleaner and a garden hose you'll be able to break up enough build up (if that is the problem)...

This might also provide for a very quick turn around if you want the vehicle available.

It's been years since I've done my own Anti-Freeze (back in the "Green" stuff days) but since you're already at 137K and if the fluid needs changing (coolant around 5/100k) anyway... (Check freeze/boil temp with a cheap gauge that can be had for like $3 at many hardware stores) Maybe consider running something like Prestone Cleaner or Super Flush in the entire system and see if that gets two birds with one stone.

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Old 10-14-2010, 09:47 PM   #3
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Default Re: low coolant warning/sensor

DO NOT FLUSH RADIATORS UNLESS YOU KNOW YOU HAVE A BLOCKAGE. Thank you.

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Old 10-15-2010, 03:22 AM   #4
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Default Re: low coolant warning/sensor

I guess I didn't think of Prestone "Super Flush" or "Cleaner" as really being the same as a "Flush and Fill" like you might see at a shop. Just as a "cleaner" before the "drain and fill" to basically loosen up any build up on the tank sensor and hopefully get a little extra gunk out when you pull the hose/drain...

Course since you mention it... the last Prestone "drain and fill" I did at home was basically an at home "flush and fill"... those cleaners are probably going to recommend/require a "flush and fill"... so that might not be a good idea.

With that said... could the tank (with sensor) be treated to a "bath" of straight "Super Flush" or "Cleaner" for say 4-5 hours (or what ever seems reasonable) and then "drained, rinsed, filled"... so as to avoid any aggressive/excessive cleaning of the rest of the coolant system?

Then maybe perform a "drain and fill" of the old coolant and give the entire system a fresh start? (Assuming it's time for a coolant change.)

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Old 10-15-2010, 06:43 AM   #5
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Default Re: low coolant warning/sensor

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2006 ion2 View Post
DO NOT FLUSH RADIATORS UNLESS YOU KNOW YOU HAVE A BLOCKAGE. Thank you.
do you mean with a cleaner or just a drain/refill and flush with water? I see nothing wrong with running water through the coolant system and radiator when changing the coolant.


so is what happening with the low coolant sensor the typical failure and it just needs to be replaced?

...
2004 Ion 3 Sedan

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Old 10-15-2010, 06:45 AM   #6
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Default Re: low coolant warning/sensor

Quote:
Originally Posted by lgodave View Post
Haven't done this myself yet... and I'm sure having it out would provide the best option for cleaning... but have you tried a simple drain/cleaner/rinse/refill with the tank in place?

Maybe with the help of a decent cleaner and a garden hose you'll be able to break up enough build up (if that is the problem)...

This might also provide for a very quick turn around if you want the vehicle available.

It's been years since I've done my own Anti-Freeze (back in the "Green" stuff days) but since you're already at 137K and if the fluid needs changing (coolant around 5/100k) anyway... (Check freeze/boil temp with a cheap gauge that can be had for like $3 at many hardware stores) Maybe consider running something like Prestone Cleaner or Super Flush in the entire system and see if that gets two birds with one stone.
not shure when the last time the coolant was flushed. car has always been serviced at a dealer so I could only assume that its been done once before.

I already have a coolant strength tester so I'll see what it says.

So I guess I see two ways about it. flush the system and replace with fresh coolant and clean the tank. Or replace the tank and do the flush at the same time anyway.

...
2004 Ion 3 Sedan

2k Ford SVT Contour
99 Ford Contour - 3L+turbo
99 Ford Contour Se Sport

Last edited by brapple; 10-15-2010 at 06:59 AM..

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Old 10-15-2010, 07:07 AM   #7
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Default Re: low coolant warning/sensor

A "flush"usually implies a cleaner, there is nothing wrong with clean water, but don't use a cleaner. As far as the sensor, I remember only one or so times where cleaning it worked, out is normal failure, and needs to be replaced.

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Old 10-15-2010, 08:47 AM   #8
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Default Re: low coolant warning/sensor

well sounds like I'll just be ordering a new tank then.

...
2004 Ion 3 Sedan

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99 Ford Contour Se Sport

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Old 10-15-2010, 09:05 AM   #9
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Default Re: low coolant warning/sensor

where do you guys recommend ordering parts from online?

I would just use rockauto but they don't have the hood relase cable and I would like to get both items at the same time.

...
2004 Ion 3 Sedan

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99 Ford Contour Se Sport

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Old 10-16-2010, 11:43 PM   #10
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Default Re: low coolant warning/sensor

don't waist your time with cleaning for this reason. replace the surge bottle and it will be good for another 140K.

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Old 10-17-2010, 12:20 PM   #11
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Default Re: low coolant warning/sensor

Quote:
Originally Posted by bern View Post
don't waist your time with cleaning for this reason. replace the surge bottle and it will be good for another 140K.
So for those of us that haven't noticed the sensor problem yet... Maybe just a "drain and fill" is in order anyway to help keep the existing coolant reservoir cleaner and hopefully "bug free" for a bit longer.

But no extraordinary measures otherwise.

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Old 11-01-2010, 06:51 AM   #12
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Default Re: low coolant warning/sensor

well over the last two weeks the coolant warning was coming on more and more often and for longer. Coolant level never changed. Replaced the tank yesterday and problem should be solved.

also what a pita the setup was. The whole PCM/fuse box bracket has to be unbolted and lifted out of the way to remove the coolant tank? Placement of the lower hose under all of that also is por, imho. Also is that spring clamp suppose to have the tabs bent over so its evern hard to get to and get off? WTF is with that, really ..... anyone else have the clamp stick to the hose?

...
2004 Ion 3 Sedan

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99 Ford Contour - 3L+turbo
99 Ford Contour Se Sport

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Old 11-03-2010, 09:08 AM   #13
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Default Re: low coolant warning/sensor

Quote:
Originally Posted by brapple View Post
well over the last two weeks the coolant warning was coming on more and more often and for longer. Coolant level never changed. Replaced the tank yesterday and problem should be solved.

also what a pita the setup was. The whole PCM/fuse box bracket has to be unbolted and lifted out of the way to remove the coolant tank? Placement of the lower hose under all of that also is por, imho. Also is that spring clamp suppose to have the tabs bent over so its evern hard to get to and get off? WTF is with that, really ..... anyone else have the clamp stick to the hose?
Maybe removing wheel and wheel liner may have been a bit easier?

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Old 11-03-2010, 11:29 AM   #14
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Default Re: low coolant warning/sensor

Quote:
Originally Posted by chilipepper1327 View Post
Maybe removing wheel and wheel liner may have been a bit easier?
what?

...
2004 Ion 3 Sedan

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Old 11-08-2012, 11:17 PM   #15
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Default Re: low coolant warning/sensor

I ordered a new Tank from Amazon and am getting ready for the remove/replace and a drain/fill. Hoping to use the pitcock and hopefully find the bolts holding down the Fuse Box and Tank are easy to reach (not hidden) and doesn't result in creating more problems then if I didn't have to move the thing at all (loose or broken wires).

Probably should have attempted the Drain and Fill a few years ago... (Keep some fresh Coolant on that Sensor) but I suppose it was going to happen sometime...

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Old 11-09-2012, 08:49 AM   #16
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Default Re: low coolant warning/sensor

Quote:
Originally Posted by lgodave View Post
Hoping to use the pitcock and hopefully find the bolts holding down the Fuse Box and Tank are easy to reach (not hidden) and doesn't result in creating more problems then if I didn't have to move the thing at all (loose or broken wires).
The bolts aren't tough to find, they're all out in the open. It's still a PITA...the hose underneath the tank is the real problem. There isnít much room and itís tough to get enough leverage to re-attach the hose to the tank. It's definitely doable, but you will have to loosen the bracket holding the ECM.

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Old 11-09-2012, 02:37 PM   #17
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Default Re: low coolant warning/sensor

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Originally Posted by Tubagod767 View Post
The bolts aren't tough to find, they're all out in the open. It's still a PITA...the hose underneath the tank is the real problem. There isnít much room and itís tough to get enough leverage to re-attach the hose to the tank. It's definitely doable, but you will have to loosen the bracket holding the ECM.
See that is helpful. I was assuming just 3-4 bolts holding down the Fuse Box... so is the ECM tied into those some bolts or is this a nested doll situation where I need to unbolt the Fuse box and then the ECM so the Fuse Box will lift out? Smart thinking Saturn/GM.

RE: Underneath Hose
I've been reading where it might be easier to just cut/replace the hose going to the Tank... (with the understanding there is more room on the other end to remove/replace that clamp.) Allowing for the Tank's Clamp to be removed/replaced outside the vehicle (assuming the hose can easily be feed in/out... my luck Saturn snaked it around and didn't make it a straight shot).

I also like the idea of installing a fresh hose in an area that isn't easily accessible or inspected. So that should be the "easy" part of this fix.

Since I've had problems finding video/photos of this specific repair I'm probably going to have to take some... so any suggestions/tips anyone thinks I should focus on or include during the swap out?

I'm expecting the tank to be here next week (11/14/12).

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Old 11-09-2012, 03:34 PM   #18
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Default Re: low coolant warning/sensor

Well, the ECM is on bracket that you have to unbolt. I think it was about 3-4 bolts to loosen it and then be able to manuver the surge tank. I thought about replacing the whole hose as well, but when i tried removing the clamp located at the engineblock it was melted on. I just left that alone because i didnt want to try cleaning melted ruber off of the engine block at that location. Good luck either way you choose to do it.

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Old 11-10-2012, 12:29 AM   #19
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Default Re: low coolant warning/sensor

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Originally Posted by Tubagod767 View Post
I thought about replacing the whole hose as well, but when i tried removing the clamp located at the engineblock it was melted on. I just left that alone because i didnt want to try cleaning melted ruber off of the engine block at that location. Good luck either way you choose to do it.
So in your opinion if it hadn't melted on OR if you'd decided to take the time... would you say removal "access" on that end of the hose was a serious concern or not? Good to have an early heads up I might need a High Temp version of hose... reduce the potential melting problem.

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Old 11-12-2012, 09:32 AM   #20
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Default Re: low coolant warning/sensor

Once I undid all the bolts and loosened the bracket for the ECM, I realized that the hose removal/replacement from the tank was going to be a struggle. I then tried undoing the hose at the block and then realized it was more than just the clamp that was holding the hose to the block... i.e. melted rubber, so i just went back and struggled removing the hose from the tank. I didnít have a replacement hose on hand, but since you do or are planning on replacing it anyway, you might have better luck with removing the hose from the engine block.

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