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Old 04-25-2018, 09:05 AM   #1
jwright
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Default coolant leak

As I added coolant to the tank today, I could see coolant leak from the bottom of the tank. The leak is pretty rapid while I am filling it up, but then it stops. It doesn't appear to continue to leak after I fill the tank. Could this be a hose/clamp issue, or is it likely the tank? I have video of the leak, but not sure about the best way to share it here.

I was thinking of taking the tank out myself and inspecting it and the hoses/clamps, however, I've never done this before. Are there any special steps/gotchas I need to worry about? My understanding is that it is is fairly simple -- drain the coolant from the reservoir, disconnect the hoses/clamps and any screws mounting it to the car. Then reverse the process to reinstall. Is that all there is to it?

Last question...I thought this car had a low coolant warning light, but I have never seen one come on. Is there a sensor and could mine be bad?

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Old 04-25-2018, 12:44 PM   #2
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Default Re: coolant leak

In general, if a coolant tank has an electrical connection anywhere on its bottom, this connection usually indicates a low coolant sensor attachment. When GM got rid of the radiator cap to lower hood profiles, a coolant overflow tank was created. A translucent container shows coolant level easily. With the tank pressurized to the same pressures as the cooling system, the cap also serves as pressure and vacuum relief. Adding a low coolant sensor completes the tank.

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Old 04-27-2018, 11:00 AM   #3
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Default Re: coolant leak

Welcome to SaturnFans, jwright! What model car, year, and engine size are you concerned with here. It hasn't been identified.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwright View Post
...I have video of the leak, but not sure about the best way to share it here...
If the website will not let you place a link within the message field - there are some limitations placed on members with less than fifteen posts to curb spamming, although I don't know if this is one of them - you can simply show the web address. A member can then copy it and paste it to a new address bar in another browser tab to see your video.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwright View Post
...Last question...I thought this car had a low coolant warning light, but I have never seen one come on. Is there a sensor and could mine be bad?
Not owning an Aura, I can't answer that question. However, that information should be found within your car's Owner's Handbook. I'm reasonably certain that a brief check of a section relating to either the cooling system or dash console warning lights will provide the answer.

Lastly, please update your profile so that your vehicle's information will appear beneath your login name. After you're logged in, go to the top of the page, >User CP>Edit Your Details>scroll down to Primary Saturn Model Year and Primary Saturn Model Type and fill in the information. Once done, your vehicle information will appear with each post you write.

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Old 04-29-2018, 01:56 PM   #4
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Default Re: coolant leak

My 2007 Aura XE (built in 10/06) has a 3.5 L V6 engine.

Since the original post, it has been driven probably 50-100 miles (I didn't keep track) and the coolant level in the reservoir dropped very low again. Seems like a serious leak. I filled it back up this time, again very carefully, and nothing leaked at all during the refill. Perhaps I managed spill some _every time_ I've filled it in the past, except this one time, but I don't believe that is true.

I left a piece of cardboard under the car last night and found evidence of a small drip. I'm going to run the car for a bit shortly, with clean cardboard under it, and see what happens.

BTW, while cleaning the outside of the coolant reservoir, I found the location of the sensor on the bottom of the reservoir, but there is no cable attached to it. I can't even find a loose cable anywhere in the car. So, I'm wondering if this car should have sensor. If so, where is the power cable?

Suggestions?

Thanks.

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Old 04-29-2018, 02:29 PM   #5
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Default Re: coolant leak

Your engine is probably cramped for space and finding a missing cable to the low coolant level sensor may be difficult unless you remove the coolant container. This may help find the source of the leak since you mentioned leaking from the bottom of the container.

The reason to have a low coolant level sensor has more to do with less maintenance needed for most cars as improvements were made over decades. Less maintenance equates to a tendency to open the hood less to check on oil, coolant and other things. The oil pressure light has always been part of warning lights. The battery light too. Older cars needed owner participation to check coolant by removing the radiator cap but with a translucent overflow coolant tank designed for a quick glance, a low level sensor was needed to alert drivers of coolant level otherwise losing more coolant usually equates to eventual overheating where another indicator turns on, the over temperature indicator. You've been fortunate not to have this situation but a damaged or leaking coolant container can result in losing more coolant while driving, leading to overheating the engine if this problem isn't looked at soon. Summer is just around the corner unless you're already in warm weather where ac may be needed, higher underhood temperatures. Either the low coolant sensor connector fell off or someone made attempts to examine this problem and couldn't reconnect wiring. Better to find out now than face the possibility of engine damage from an overheated engine losing coolant that was easily avoided by looking into it now while you have the time. Preventive maintenance avoids expensive repairs.

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Old 04-29-2018, 02:43 PM   #6
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Default Re: coolant leak

Thanks for the feedback. I'd like to have some idea of what the problem is before I take it in for service though. In the past, I found the Saturn dealer was fair and was always able to fix problems. I haven't felt that way about the nearby GM dealer or the local shops though. So I'd like to be able to narrow this problem down as much as possible.

I just ran the car in the driveway, hood up, for 32 minutes. I didn't see a drop of coolant on the cardboard. Also, the dash "Engine Coolant Temperature Gage" didn't go above the middle mark, which is where is usually sits when things are trouble-free. The coolant in the reservoir rose to about 1/3 of an inch above the "cold full' line on the tank by the end of the 32 minutes. Now I'm really confused. Can I say that the tank is fine? Can anyone suggest a next test?

Unfortunately I need 15 posts to share images. :-(

Last edited by jwright; 04-29-2018 at 02:57 PM..

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Old 04-29-2018, 03:10 PM   #7
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Default Re: coolant leak

I took another look and found coolant under the tank, but collected on one of the surfaces. That narrows this down to the tank or the hose that connects to bottom of the tank. Can anyone recommend a place to purchase these? I'd prefer high quality parts at rock-bottom prices. ;-)

I also noticed moisture around the joint of the coolant reservoir, where the two pieces come together. Could that be condensation, or a problem?

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Old 04-29-2018, 03:28 PM   #8
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Default Re: coolant leak

Unless you are willing to remove the coolant tank to examine it yourself, relying on any dealer or repair shop places a certain trust in any business to deliver service. There are just as many reputable dealers and repair shops as there are many dealers and repair shops that are dishonest. Dishonest as in providing services over and above a problem that either corrects it or doesn't with no return of money for failure to correct the original problem. What may occur in dishonest repairs is the assurance of examining the problem again but billing for labor hours used while in contact with the owner. Additional charges ensue due to placing the vehicle owner into a corner to either replace parts or accept the fact that the problem may not be corrected yet still continue to find the problem on your dime. A large gray are exists between providing services and correcting a problem whether unnecessary parts were needed or not. This might be described as getting caught up in a circle jerk. Personally, I view dealers and repair shops with a certain disdain unless I know them to be reputable and make money by providing honest repairs. To wit, the auto repair business is in business to make money, period, regardless of whether or not a problem is corrected. Think about it. No auto repair business is going to give away free info to help anyone make their own repairs to fix a problem. Repair shop estimates can go either way, fix a problem yet still make money or not fix a problem yet still charge for labor hours used since 'time is money' along with marked up parts. In a negative way, pay more to get more until a problem is solved. A customer is at the mercy of dealers and repair shops unless well aware of where service should stop to take the vehicle away. A free estimate is just that, an initial assessment but no guarantee of anything. Entering into an agreement for service opens a binding agreement with the least service being labor rates for a shop to initiate further assessments and repairs as authorized by the owner - the phone call either discussing the best guess repair or additional services that weren't assessed in the estimate. If you see the gray area developing, there's no definitive method for cookie cutter service when a problem occurs that isn't as clear in black and white. Simple oil and filter changes are cookie cutter services. Your problem doesn't fit cookie cutter services. I or anyone else here on these forums can tell you where your problem lies since no one here is looking directly at the problem you're describing, taking accepting your best descriptions as is (it may be incorrect). My assessment may be completely wrong but its based on your descriptions. It may be a hose or water pump leak. If you're willing to pay for my flight ticket, rental car, meals and return flight home, I'd be willing to determine where your leak is but I have a sneaking suspicion you aren't likely to have a complete stranger fly out to your home and examine your coolant leak. Well, that's just another way to describe what we all face if we visit a dealer or repair shop, just not as dramatic yet still pay for services. It comes down to either diy or pay someone to find and fix the problem.

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Old 04-29-2018, 04:03 PM   #9
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Default Re: coolant leak

I'm perfectly happy to buy the parts and replace the tank and hose myself. What I need at this point is information on the proper way to replace the hose and tank. I doesn't seem like it would be difficult at all, but it would be good to get clear instructions, as I suspect there are a few critical steps.

If there are still problems beyond that, I'd just take it to another shop. This time, I hope, armed with a clear(er) diagnosis.

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Old 04-29-2018, 04:43 PM   #10
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Default Re: coolant leak

If I had service manuals for Auras I'd post or send files. Perhaps another member has this info and can comment otherwise there are alternatives for procedures; just go ahead and anticipate any issues, subscribing to alldata or Mitchell or search online for info, maybe youtube.

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Old 04-30-2018, 07:37 PM   #11
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Default Re: coolant leak

No worries. It was easy. I did it in an hour.

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Old 05-01-2018, 09:05 AM   #12
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Default Re: coolant leak

Excellent, jwright! So what did you replace, or what repair did you make to correct the leak?

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Old 05-02-2018, 11:47 AM   #13
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Default Re: coolant leak

I found the coolant tank(reservoir) had a small leak along the seam in the back of the tank. First thing I did was take pictures of the everything, particularly the orientation of the quick connector clamps on the upper and lower hoses connecting to the coolant tank. I wanted to make sure that I put things back in the right orientation.

I bought a handpump and a new coolant reservoir from one of the large autoparts stores for about $53 total. Then I pumped as much coolant out of the reservoir as I could. Next I removed the upper hose on the tank. That part was easy. Getting the hose off the bottom of the tank was a pain. The quick connector clamp was hard to get at, and even then, it was difficult to slide it down the hose. After I got the tank out, I pumped a little more coolant out of the bottom hose so that I wouldn't spill it everywhere while I was trying to get the new coolant tank attached. Then I put a little WD-40 on the outside of the hose connectors on the coolant tank so that the hoses would slide on easily. Then I basically reversed the steps: reattach the bottom hose and clamp, reattach the top hose and clamp, and add coolant. I ran the engine with the coolant cap off for a couple of minutes just to make sure the level was OK. Then I put the cap on and drove it around a few miles and watched the engine temp...tested heater and AC as well. Two days later, no leaks still.

Engine still seems hot, but the indicator on the dash doesn't go above the half-way mark, so I think it is OK.

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