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Old 01-11-2011, 11:02 AM   #1
peach_eater
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Dizzy 2002 Saturn SL2 Ghost Coolant Leak

Hi guys. I have an '02 SL2 that started devouring coolant 2 weeks ago.

It's been overheating after about 30 seconds to a minute of driving, and leaks all the coolant out that I put in. When I stop the car, the fan has to keep running to blow out massive amounts of heat (of course).

I checked all the hoses, and they look fine, and I don't see any visible sprays or anything. I see a minor drip drip coming from the water pump, but its so minor that it could just be from something else.

I looked at the coolant reservoir, and I don't see any visible cracking or leaks.

Any ideas guys!?
Thanks.

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Old 01-11-2011, 11:12 AM   #2
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL2 Ghost Coolant Leak

Places for coolant to leak; hoses, radiator side tank, and water pump. Remove the serp belt and rock the water pump from side to side; any rocking means the bearings are worn out and leaking coolant when you're not watching.

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Old 01-11-2011, 11:18 AM   #3
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL2 Ghost Coolant Leak

Soooo you lose all your coolant each time you drive but you can't see any leaks?

Usually the drivers side head tank of the rad goes and sprays coolant when under pressure... But if your losing that much coolant you would have noticed...

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Old 01-11-2011, 11:37 AM   #4
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL2 Ghost Coolant Leak

When I put in coolant, it all empties out, and when I look at the engine, it just looks soaked on the bottom and passenger side. Thats why I was really thinking coolant tank, but I seriously don't see any cracks in it. I started to remove the water pump two days ago, but stopped when I saw how badly the bolts were already stripped, and I didn't notice any rocking.

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Old 01-11-2011, 11:45 AM   #5
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL2 Ghost Coolant Leak

There is no "minor leak" in the cooling system. If you can see the water pump leaking, it's shot, and it's the cause of your loss. It's probably leaking at a rate proportional to engine speed, so it leaks a LOT faster as you drive. No point in even looking for other leaks until you fix what you know is broken.

You might, while the cooling system is drained, consider replacing the thermostat as well.

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Old 01-11-2011, 12:47 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL2 Ghost Coolant Leak

Quote:
Originally Posted by peach_eater View Post
When I put in coolant, it all empties out, and when I look at the engine, it just looks soaked on the bottom and passenger side. ....... I started to remove the water pump two days ago, but stopped when I saw how badly the bolts were already stripped, and I didn't notice any rocking.
Unfortunately, you verified a failed water pump by the description of the engine soaked by the passenger side and more problems with corroded mounting bolts. You'll probably need bolt extractors like these;
Attached Images
File Type: jpg images.jpg (11.9 KB, 56 views)

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Old 01-11-2011, 12:58 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL2 Ghost Coolant Leak

Thanks. I'm calling around to see what kinda $$ I can expect to spend at a repair shop.

The car won't even start now. Same problem, or do you think it's much worse?

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Old 01-11-2011, 01:06 PM   #8
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL2 Ghost Coolant Leak

Ouch!? Now the car won't start? This is something totally different from a leaking water pump.

Check for fuel and spark; fuel spray from the fuel test valve on the fuel rail and spark by removing the coil wires and having someone turn the ignition key to the START position.

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Old 01-11-2011, 01:31 PM   #9
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL2 Ghost Coolant Leak

Well, nobody's open today because of snow and ice in the area. One tech on the phone said he would look at it tomorrow morning and tell me if I'm screwed or not. He seems to think that after so many miles in a Saturn, you just need a new engine.

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Old 01-11-2011, 04:55 PM   #10
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL2 Ghost Coolant Leak

Quote:
Originally Posted by peach_eater View Post
. He seems to think that after so many miles in a Saturn, you just need a new engine.
Er, no. Luke has 640k miles or so on his original engine. Several people are north of 400k miles, and there are enough that are past 250k miles that it's hardly worth mentioning.

OTOH, it does depend on the maintenance in the engine's lifetime

...
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Old 01-11-2011, 08:41 PM   #11
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL2 Ghost Coolant Leak

Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
Er, no. Luke has 640k miles or so on his original engine. Several people are north of 400k miles, and there are enough that are past 250k miles that it's hardly worth mentioning.

OTOH, it does depend on the maintenance in the engine's lifetime
More like 140K. Maintenance hasn't been perfect, but I definitely expected it to last longer than 140. If I seized the engine by overheating it, I'm definitely in trouble.

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Old 01-12-2011, 12:56 AM   #12
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL2 Ghost Coolant Leak

Quote:
Originally Posted by peach_eater View Post
If I seized the engine by overheating it, I'm definitely in trouble.
And this is also a possibility. While you were down there messing with the water pump, you should've taken out all four plugs/wires (noting which plug came from which hole and the firing order) and turn the crankshaft pulley by hand. If it won't budge, it's siezed.

+1 to Chaos; there is NO defined magic age/mileage that automatically turns a car into a money pit (though to be fair with a V6 timing belt car at 100k you're looking at spark plugs/wires, coolant flush, new timing belt and pulleys, water pump, thermostat, etc... all in the same job. consider that you have to remove the intake manifold to get to the spark plugs, and yeeeeeeeeah. this all unfortunately probably leads into the popular perception of it's 100k it's a money pit now time to trade it).

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Old 01-12-2011, 09:10 AM   #13
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL2 Ghost Coolant Leak

Well if you want the car to last longer then 140k don't run it with no coolant... That goes for any engine, whether it was built in asia, europe or america....

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Old 01-12-2011, 12:38 PM   #14
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL2 Ghost Coolant Leak

Quote:
Originally Posted by frogman View Post
Well if you want the car to last longer then 140k don't run it with no coolant... That goes for any engine, whether it was built in asia, europe or america....
Original VW Beetles and Porsche 911/912 seemed to run just fine without coolant

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Old 01-12-2011, 03:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
Original VW Beetles and Porsche 911/912 seemed to run just fine without coolant
Hehe they have coolant... Air is a fluid, to bad for the topic creator that the s series needs a bit more then just air

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Old 01-12-2011, 08:05 PM   #16
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL2 Ghost Coolant Leak

Definitely. and I have a '00 with a cracked head gasket. I'm a sad little man.

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Old 01-13-2011, 10:53 AM   #17
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL2 Ghost Coolant Leak

Quote:
Originally Posted by peach_eater View Post
Definitely. and I have a '00 with a cracked head gasket. I'm a sad little man.
How was this determined? Do you see any signs of oil in your coolant, or coolant in your oil? Large plumes of white steam coming out of your exhaust?

Quote:
Originally Posted by frogman View Post
Hehe they have coolant... Air is a fluid, to bad for the topic creator that the s series needs a bit more then just air
<smacks forehead> D'Oh! I knew that wasn't thinking clearly

By curious coincidence, I believe that was a question in a Jeopary show I watched recently - something about fluid dynamics having two main divisions, hydrodynamics and aerodynamics.

...
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Wait, what, I actually won that eBay auction?
12/2008 silver 1998 SL2 5 spd 102k, now 172k
7/2010 white Craigslist 1997 SC2 5 spd

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Old 01-13-2011, 06:26 PM   #18
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL2 Ghost Coolant Leak

Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
How was this determined? Do you see any signs of oil in your coolant, or coolant in your oil? Large plumes of white steam coming out of your exhaust?
The entire coolant tank was full of oil and the oil dipstick showed nearly no oil. White smoke coming from the reservoir as it overflowed.

As far as the 2002 goes, I just realized I hadn't put the serpentine belt back on during last tests. It still should've started, right?

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Old 01-13-2011, 07:14 PM   #19
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL2 Ghost Coolant Leak

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As far as the 2002 goes, I just realized I hadn't put the serpentine belt back on during last tests. It still should've started, right?
Yes. as long as you have proper oil pressure, a crankcase full of oil, and a stone cold engine, you can run the engine without the serpentine belt for up to three minutes (mostly for testing of belt driven accessories to see if it's the engine or the accessories; though 30 seconds should be more than enough in most cases).

...
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Old 01-17-2011, 11:37 PM   #20
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Default Re: 2002 Saturn SL2 Ghost Coolant Leak

It looks like there's oil looking somehow too.

I can definitely see a nice oily sheen dripping down the driveway from my car, not a huge puddle, but still, its coming out somehow.

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