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Old 10-17-2013, 11:48 PM   #1
j0sh83
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Default Constantly filling radiator reservoir.

2002 SC2 4 Speed Manual with about 126,000miles.

So back in March, my coolant low light came on just before an oil change. I decided to take it in early for the oil and had Jiffy Lube check to see if I had a leak. They said they couldn't see any visible signs of leakage, but recommended a flush since it probably needed it. Maybe a month later the light came on again. I chocked it up to air and bought a gallon of coolant to top off the reservoir. It didn't take much, but since then I have to top it off every so often when the light comes on. A top off usually lasts about 2 to 3 weeks. I had it looked at by Jiffy Lube again at my last oil change in August and asked them to check for leaks. Again they couldn't find any leaks and they also chocked it up to air. They also topped off the reservoir.

The cycle continues and I top it off every 2 to 3 weeks or so. Last week the low light came on again. I am usually johnny on the spot topping off the reservoir the next day when its cold, but I let it go for a few days. The reservoir was near empty and I top it off my second gallon of coolant since this all started. The car seems to normally run between 1/4 and 1/2 on the temp gauge. I did notice a couple of days ago while waiting on a train that when the car was sitting at idle, I was at 1/2. I turned it off and when I drove off it was back to its normal area between 1/4 and 1/2. Tonight I was sitting in line at KFC and I noticed again it was 1/2. When I drove off I watched the gauge and it went to its normal range between 1/4 and 1/2 after about a 1/10 mile. Guess what happened next... The light came on.

I am assuming the thermostat opened while waiting in line at KFC and sucked up some coolant. The light went off a few seconds later, but then came back steady after a little driving.

I've been Googling all night and tomorrow when it's light out, I am going to check to see if there is oil in the coolant or any coolant in the oil. Any other suggestions? All help is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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Old 10-18-2013, 12:03 AM   #2
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Default Re: Constantly filling radiator reservoir.

3rd generation has a plastic intake manifold - there's a coolant nipple on there that cracks frequently. I would check that first. Next check the top driver's side corner of the radiator - that also likes to crack after ~10 years or so. A leaking cap could do it too. The problem with all these leaks is that they can be just steam leaking out and it is very hard to find the source. I have a leaking radiator I just replaced today, the crack was only slightly larger than a hairline but it was loosing significant coolant. If you are unable to deal with the leak ASAP, loosen the cap and bump your antifreeze concentration way up - this de-pressurizes the system and slows leaks.

Coolant and oil are not mixing (or haven't been since March). Yer car woulda done blowed up by now sir!

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Old 10-18-2013, 12:18 AM   #3
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Default Re: Constantly filling radiator reservoir.

Thanks for the response anmasher.

I am not mechanically inclined, so please bear with me... I am car noobie.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anmasher View Post
3rd generation has a plastic intake manifold - there's a coolant nipple on there that cracks frequently.
I am assuming you are talking about the line from the reservoir to the radiator? Sorry I can't post links yet, so I can't post a picture of what I think you are talking about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anmasher View Post
If you are unable to deal with the leak ASAP, loosen the cap and bump your antifreeze concentration way up - this de-pressurizes the system and slows leaks.
I am using a 50/50 premix. I should use straight antifreeze for this operation?

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Old 10-18-2013, 07:20 AM   #4
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Default Re: Constantly filling radiator reservoir.

The line in question is the small rubber hose coming off the reservior follow it to the back of the engine where it attaches to the intake, look if theres any cracks or leakage in that area as it can tell you if the manifold has cracked and needs replacing, secondly your car should be taking Dex-Cool (Orange Coolant), dont use straight antifreeze, the 50/50 is fine however if its the green coolant once the leak is found you will have to properly flush out the system of the green coolant and install the correct coolant for your car as stated above DONT mix coolants...

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Old 10-18-2013, 07:52 AM   #5
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Default Re: Constantly filling radiator reservoir.

I've been having the same issue, and it seems to be the coolant reservoir cap that is causing the problem. I've tried buying a third cap, and it now appears to be solved. We get a lot of CRAP parts from china.....but they were only $5.99 ea.

If it is the cap in your case, you may see coolant around the rim of the plastic tank. I have also replaced my radiator and water pump, T-stat and put in new hoses.

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Old 10-18-2013, 10:39 AM   #6
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Default Re: Constantly filling radiator reservoir.

Quote:
Originally Posted by j0sh83 View Post
I am assuming you are talking about the line from the reservoir to the radiator? Sorry I can't post links yet, so I can't post a picture of what I think you are talking about.
I think it is the very small line running from the reservoir back along the firewall to the engine. I've never seen a 3rd generation intake manifold before though so I cannot confirm. These guys offer a solution that will last permanently and does not require replacing the intake manifold. Heck, there's a video of what you're looking for, too

I am using a 50/50 premix. I should use straight antifreeze for this operation?
The comment above is correct about not mixing coolants, but the car should be running on the universal green stuff, not Dex-cool. If the current coolant is anything but plain green all makes/all models coolant you should flush it out after this ordeal is over and run the green stuff. If the concentration is way up (think >70%) you can loosen the cap without boil-over, that decreases the system pressure and significantly slows the leak until you can find/fix it.

The radiator leak is on the side of the plastic radiator tank facing the driver near the top.

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Old 10-18-2013, 11:59 AM   #7
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Default Re: Constantly filling radiator reservoir.

I think I found the culprit. I need to get my post count up so I can link the pictures.

Ignore the next post.

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Old 10-18-2013, 12:01 PM   #8
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Default Re: Constantly filling radiator reservoir.

Just trying to make my 15 so I can link.

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Old 10-18-2013, 12:08 PM   #9
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Default Re: Constantly filling radiator reservoir.

Edit: I reduced their size by 50% hopefully they aren't so huge now.





As soon as I opened the hood I saw the white spray and knew this must be the crack. In the second picture, I think you can see my crack. It's pretty large (or at least to me it is).

My questions are:
  1. How long can I nurse this?
  2. Again I am car noobie, so what am I looking at if I take this to a shop?
  3. Since I am noobie, how hard would it be to change myself?

Last edited by j0sh83; 10-18-2013 at 12:15 PM..

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Old 10-18-2013, 12:19 PM   #10
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Default Re: Constantly filling radiator reservoir.

I wouldnt drive it around with a crack like that, the radiator needs to be replaced, If you go on youtube RichPin has a video on radiator removal its not hard at all and with you having a manual trans its easier yet so you wont have to deal with the trans cooler lines, Avoid products like stop leak and another other additives for coolant leaks as they clog up the cooling system and will cause you more trouble then the original leak that you currently have.

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Old 10-18-2013, 12:23 PM   #11
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Default Re: Constantly filling radiator reservoir.

You can nurse it for as long as your nerves can take it but it will only get worse and probably leave you stranded somewhere. It is not a technically difficult job but is more difficult with auto trans. Check out the " How to " and video library to see if you think you can do it.

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Old 10-18-2013, 12:27 PM   #12
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Default Re: Constantly filling radiator reservoir.

^^^Also check out the water pump. It may have been damaged.

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Old 10-18-2013, 12:40 PM   #13
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Default Re: Constantly filling radiator reservoir.

Looks like you found the problem. I got a new Delphi brand radiator from Auto Parts Warehouse for $110 shipped. If you haven't changed the water pump, might as well do it too, the GMB brand is what most recommend on here.

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Old 10-18-2013, 12:49 PM   #14
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Default Re: Constantly filling radiator reservoir.

Delphi or Silla only, the current cheapest I found was a Silla for $86 shipped to my door from Ebay.

I think all you need is a standard screwdriver, 10mm wrench, and a 10mm socket+ long extension. You'll also need something (or somebody) to hold the condenser while the radiator is out. Pretty easy job really.

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Old 10-18-2013, 02:07 PM   #15
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Default Re: Constantly filling radiator reservoir.

Thanks for all the replies.

I think after watching Richpins videos, I can tackle this. I went and looked at my Saturn to get a general idea of what Rich covered. I was cleaning some of the spray off the battery and discovered this little guy all corroded and disconnected from wherever it goes. After I cleaned it up I was looking to see where it fits, but couldn't see anything. Does anyone have any idea where it connects? I thought maybe its a ground, but there are two pins and all the grounds I see in the area use grounding straps.

It runs near the fuse box.

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Old 10-18-2013, 02:21 PM   #16
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Default Re: Constantly filling radiator reservoir.

That is your IAT sensor, it should screw into the air intake snorkle to read the temperature of the incoming air. It won't hurt anything to leave it there, some folks tape it to the radiator hose for a mileage trick, others put a resistor in place of the threaded sensor to trick the PCM into seeing hotter air and getting a mileage improvement.

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Old 10-18-2013, 02:27 PM   #17
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Default Re: Constantly filling radiator reservoir.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Banjoman View Post
That is your IAT sensor, it should screw into the air intake snorkle to read the temperature of the incoming air. It won't hurt anything to leave it there, some folks tape it to the radiator hose for a mileage trick, others put a resistor in place of the threaded sensor to trick the PCM into seeing hotter air and getting a mileage improvement.
Okay, thanks. For a minute I thought maybe I have more problems on top of this crack. I guess since the previous owner put in the K&N, the plug from the first picture is where this sensor goes?

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Old 10-18-2013, 02:48 PM   #18
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Default Re: Constantly filling radiator reservoir.

Not familiar with K&N stuff, but it looks like there is a bolt under the K&N sticker which might be for the IAT sensor. Make sure it's airtight, since it comes after the filter.

I used bungee cords to hold up the AC condensor. Was a pretty easy one-person job (followed richpin's video)

good time to rinse out the surge tank, shake it up with soapy water to clean the float, and backflush cooling system.

I shouldn't be surprised that Jiffly Lube missed the hanging IAT sensor and radiator crack, but I am

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Old 10-18-2013, 03:16 PM   #19
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Default Re: Constantly filling radiator reservoir.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
Not familiar with K&N stuff, but it looks like there is a bolt under the K&N sticker which might be for the IAT sensor. Make sure it's airtight, since it comes after the filter.

I used bungee cords to hold up the AC condensor. Was a pretty easy one-person job (followed richpin's video)

good time to rinse out the surge tank, shake it up with soapy water to clean the float, and backflush cooling system.

I shouldn't be surprised that Jiffly Lube missed the hanging IAT sensor and radiator crack, but I am
Thanks for the tip. I was thinking about some safety wire, but a bungee would work too. Yeah Richpin is awesome! I was thinking about doing the reservoir tank as well since I will be draining the coolant anyways. He has a video on this procedure too.

I am not sure how Jiffy Lube could have missed it either. I was the only car in the shop, so they were not busy. But in their defense, I open the hood ever 2 to 3 weeks and never noticed the spray so I am guessing the crack has significantly expanded since August.

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Old 10-18-2013, 03:47 PM   #20
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Default Re: Constantly filling radiator reservoir.

Okay so I am looking at parts and I want to make sure I get it right. Looking at the Silla 2067A. http://www.autopartswarehouse.com/sk...ILLA2067A.html. If that is the correct part, then there are a few on ebay http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw...iator&_sacat=0. I am assuming this is a universal part so the transmission oil cooler will come with a cap? I was reading on another post that they usually do.

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