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Old 08-19-2006, 05:24 PM   #1
ggking7
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Default Green Asphault (better than red, worse than black)

A short while ago my engine started overheating really quickly and constantly once I started driving around. This was separate from the "overheating when idling" problem I posted about a few days ago. I checked the cream-colored coolant tank under the hood and sure enough it was bone-dry. I put most of a big $11 bottle of antifreeze into it until the level was where it was supposed to be. The problem was immediately gone but the next day the antifreeze level was much lower. I put the rest of the bottle into it and it was at the right level again. The level seemed to stay pretty much the same over the next few days until today I walked out of work and found my car (on a slight decline) with a fairly large stream of antifreeze running out from under it. I checked the level and it was very low. I made it home without the temperature going over 25% by keeping the heater on full blast.

I seem to have a bad ECTS that needs replacing and I remember somebody wrote that my ECTS problem could cause a coolant leak, but could it cause this much leakage?
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Old 08-19-2006, 05:51 PM   #2
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Default Re: Green Asphault (better than red, worse than black)

the hole in your system is causing the leakage.

If your ects failed cold and your fan wasn't working, an otherwise properly working car would eventually boil the coolant out the surge tank cap, so look there for starters for the leak. Running that hot stresses the system but the tank cap should be the first thing to "break" under the pressure.

Your antifreeze is either leaking from something external or you have a motor problem that's combusting it... in which case you'll see white smoke out the ehxaust if it's bad enough.
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Old 08-19-2006, 06:36 PM   #3
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Default Re: Green Asphault (better than red, worse than black)

eljefino,

How can I check my surge tank cap for a leak? That's the cap on the plastic cream-colored coolant container right? There doesn't appear to be anything wrong just from taking it off, looking at it, and putting it back on.

I don't think the engine is combusting the antifreeze since its running down the asphault in a green stream.

The only thing I've ever done under the hood before on any car is check the oil so I'm a total beginner. Considering all of this, do I have a chance of fixing this problem myself or is a mechanic required? I'd really like to be able to fix it myself.
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Old 08-19-2006, 07:42 PM   #4
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Default Re: Green Asphault (better than red, worse than black)

good thing to do is park your car over a piece of cardboard then follow the leak upwards.

Good place to look is on the radiator, driver's side, near behind the headlight, up top. If you have an automatic transmission there are two solid pipes that go up to the radiator and above where these meet it is a typical radiator failure point.

If you can take pictures and post them here, someone might be able to help better.
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Old 08-19-2006, 08:05 PM   #5
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Default Re: Green Asphault (better than red, worse than black)

I just drove about 12 miles, stayed for about 15 minutes, and drove 12 miles back and on the second half of the trip back the temperature gauge read "as hot as possible" the entire time. There was antifreeze on the ground when I got back into my car for the trip back too.

Ok, cardboard in place. Should I hose the potential area of the engine down, let it dry, put in some antifreeze, and then watch really closely for wet spots?
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Old 08-19-2006, 08:33 PM   #6
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Default Re: Green Asphault (better than red, worse than black)

If it's the reservoir cap, you'll notice a white powdery substance dried on the reservoir after you've allowed the car to cool.

Another common place of leakage is where the transmission cooler lines go into the radiator, which is the drivers side tank. Just look at the black plastic on the driver's side of the radiator, and you'll see where two metal lines go into the tank, and the top one is usually the one that leaks.
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Old 08-19-2006, 08:52 PM   #7
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Default Re: Green Asphault (better than red, worse than black)

you really need to stop driving until you figure this out.

Don't hose anything down.

You seem to be getting in over your head, might be time to tow to a mechanic.
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Old 08-19-2006, 11:31 PM   #8
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Default Re: Green Asphault (better than red, worse than black)

myoung,
Unfortunately no powdery white stuff on the coolant tank.

eljefino,
I really can't afford to take it to a mechanic. I like learning new stuff though. Since I work on the computer all day, working with real stuff in the real world feels good.

Here's some photos that should be helpful.

This is the carboard sitting on the ground under the engine. You can see a drop of antifreeze on the bottom left-hand panel of cardboard.
saturn1.jpg

This is a closer view of the same thing. The shiny area on the underside of the car above the drop is very wet and possibly green. It's hard to tell because it's so dirty, even when I touch it and look at my fingers.
saturn2.jpg

Here's a closer look at the shiny area. It looks like the antifreeze was leaking through here and being blown back as I drove around.
saturn9.jpg

This is a view of the cardboard through the top of the engine compartment. You can see it in the diagonal brown line near the bolt. That's the cardboard.
saturn3.jpg

This is a closer view of the same thing. You can see the antifreeze drop on the cardboard.
saturn4.jpg

Peering around the engine compartment, I noticed two particularly wet-looking areas. One was this.
saturn5.jpg

Here's a closer look at the wetness.
saturn6.jpg

The other wet area is in the bottom left-hand corner here.
saturn7.jpg

Here's a closer look.
saturn8.jpg

I can provide higher resolution images if that would help, and I'm happy to take any additional photos. What should be my next step in pinpointing the leak?

This is a 1991 Saturn SC twin-cam coupe with a manual transmission and ~145,000 miles.

Also, someone I was talking to today said there is stuff you can buy and put in your radiator that will stop coolant leaks. Would that work for a leak of this magnitude?
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Old 08-20-2006, 01:32 AM   #9
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Default Re: Green Asphault (better than red, worse than black)

The pics you posted and described as showing the areas that are wet would indicate leaks from some of the most common leak areas.

(1), the drivers side. The radiator end cap, (the plastic part). Look down past the radiator hose. You will see what looks like fittings for lines into the end cap. These are for transmission fluid lines to cool the transmission fluid on automatic transmissions. You don't have an automatic so these fittings will not have any lines going to them. HOWEVER, the radiators on these cars are known to develop cracks in the plastic end caps in this area. Shine a light down in that area and you will see either coolant, a white residue or both if you have a leak in that area. If this is the case, the radiator needs replacing. Some people have had limited success with epoxies for temporary repairs but I don't advocat that. But I guess as the old saying goes, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

(2) Passengers side. Water pump. Looking down at the pullies, the one just below the air conditioner compressor is the water pump. Often a leak from the pump shaft will show in the engine cradle member that runs forward and aft just below the water pump. It will also often appear in a line that runs foward and aft from being slung off the water pump pulley. A leak here can only be resolved by replacing the water pump.

(3) Also passengers side. A cracked coolant jar or coolant cap. As someone else has posted, a bad cap can cause you to have coolant or residue on the top of the jar. A cracked jar will have coolant running down the fender below the jar.

NOW, how to actually find all these. As opposed to what eljefino said, I WOULD wash it all down. Right now you have so much coolant all over everything it is hard to tell where it came from. Air current blowing around in the compartment will take that stuff all over the place. Start fresh. Now I do agree that if it is leaking that bad and causing that severe an overheat, you do not need to be driving it. Get somebody to take you to an Auto Zone, O'Reillys, or similiar parts store. These places often loan or rent tools. You need a cooling system pressure tester. This is a hand pump device that attaches to the cooling system resevoir jar in place of the cap. On the cap it states the system pressure. In your case it should be about 15 PSI. With the engine COLD, pump the pressure up in the system with the hand pump. There is a pressure gauge on the hand pump. With the system pressurized, now you can take a flash light and start looking for where the coolant is comming out. Since it is cold, you don't have to worry about burning yourself.
Look at all the hoses where they are clamped. Look at all the areas I described above.

On the water pump, look below it to see if fluid is dripping off it on to the engine cradle.

If your system is leaking that bad, it will not hold pressure so you may have to keep pumping it up. DO NOT over pressure it, just keep the pressure up. In a good system that is not leaking, the system will hold the pressure.

This pump tool can also be used to test the cap. There should be an adapter to screw the cap onto. Pump it up to the rated pressure. It should hold the pressure.

The beauty of testing like this is that you don't have to run the car. It stays cold so you can work on it immediately after finding the leak. You also don't have to risk overheating it. But again, before you do this, I would rinse all the old coolant off and let the engine dry so the new leakage will be immediately evident. Also top off your cooling system before doing this so you have fluid to leak out. Personally, I wouldn't put coolant in it for this test. Just use water. You are going to have to drain it out anyway to make what ever repairs are needed. No use wasting good coolant.
...
1999 SC-2 280,000 miles -mine now also dead, RIP
1995 SL-2 296,000 miles - my wifes totaled, RIP
1993 Chevrolet S-10 Pick-up - mine
2003 Harley Davidson Low Rider - mine

Last edited by Sky King; 08-20-2006 at 01:39 AM.
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Old 08-20-2006, 01:35 AM   #10
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Default Re: Green Asphault (better than red, worse than black)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ggking7
Also, someone I was talking to today said there is stuff you can buy and put in your radiator that will stop coolant leaks. Would that work for a leak of this magnitude?
I really wouldn't use that stuff. There are several products out there that claim to do this such as one calld Barsleak. I have heard people say they have had trouble down the road such as small passages being plugged up with the stuff such as in the heater core. Look at it this way, the stuff is supposed to stop fluid from going out a leak, what is to prevent it from stopping fluid from going through any other small passage?
...
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1995 SL-2 296,000 miles - my wifes totaled, RIP
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Old 08-20-2006, 02:55 AM   #11
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Default Re: Green Asphault (better than red, worse than black)

I've got to try Bar's Leaks or Aluma-Seal first. If that doesn't work I'll dig in to a real repair.

Using water instead of coolant along with a cooling system pressure tester does sound pretty slick. I found this which outlines this same type of repair:

http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/ab_aut...276327,00.html

It says a cooling system pressure tester can be had for around $35.

It's interesting that you mention the water pump. I was pulling up to a parking area "checkout" a few months ago and my car was making a weird sound. The parking attendant said it sounded like the water pump.
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Old 08-20-2006, 05:46 AM   #12
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Default Re: Green Asphault (better than red, worse than black)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ggking7
I've got to try Bar's Leaks or Aluma-Seal first. If that doesn't work I'll dig in to a real repair.

Using water instead of coolant along with a cooling system pressure tester does sound pretty slick. I found this which outlines this same type of repair:

http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/ab_aut...276327,00.html

It says a cooling system pressure tester can be had for around $35.

It's interesting that you mention the water pump. I was pulling up to a parking area "checkout" a few months ago and my car was making a weird sound. The parking attendant said it sounded like the water pump.
Well again I just can't in good conscience agree with your decision to use any of those products but that is your decision.

As for the pressure tester, I really don't know if one can be had for that price or not. I own my own and it is a bit more elaborate than the one shown in your link. Not to say there is anything wrong with the one they use, they both accomplish the same thing. What makes mine a bit more functional AND much more expensive is that it is a KIT that includes several adapters so it will fit a variety of types of coolant resevoirs including the adapter to test the cap. The one shown doesn't look like that it will work on a variety of cars. SO with that said, make sure, especially if you intend to BUY one, that it will fit the coolant jar on your car. One you would rent or borrow from an auto parts store will also probably have the selection of adapters.

As for using water instead of coolant, like I said, all you need is something in there for the test. After all it is either going to be pushed out with the tester or you will be draining it out to do the repair so why waste coolant? Just understand that after the repair, you will want to put the proper mix of coolant and water back in. Which by the way is 50/50 mix of water and coolant. And you DO want a MIX. 100% coolant will not cool your car as well as a 50/50 mix.

Good luck, you can do this.
...
1999 SC-2 280,000 miles -mine now also dead, RIP
1995 SL-2 296,000 miles - my wifes totaled, RIP
1993 Chevrolet S-10 Pick-up - mine
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Old 08-20-2006, 06:43 AM   #13
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Default Re: Green Asphault (better than red, worse than black)

Sky King knows what he is talking about here...... I hope that you have not used any of those additives to stop a water leak.. think about it.. engine blocks are machined to exacting specs... right? But one thing that [U]no[U] manufacturer can do is smooth out all the cavities that cooling fluid is supposed to flow thru... therefore... that same thing you put into that radiator also goes into the block... looking for a plug somewhere? You will have one... and not where you might think... find the leak and those pics that you posted were really well done... but the fact remains.... clean it off to find where the real problem lies.... you will come out better in the end....
btw..if you have a waterpump going out? There won't be any doubts of it... whatever sounds you might hear.. or some pumpjockey telling you...

Last edited by Sir Trews; 08-20-2006 at 06:50 AM.
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Old 08-20-2006, 12:36 PM   #14
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Default Re: Green Asphault (better than red, worse than black)

Alright I'm going to at least try to find that leak before I use the magic leak stopper.

First I'll check the cardboard and spray down the engine compartment and let it dry. Would it be useful to put some water in the coolant tank after the engine compartment has dried to try and spot the leak that way, or will it only leak under pressure?

If I can't spot the leak that way, I'll see if I can find a coolant system pressure tester for rent or loan. If that doesn't work out I'll have to use the leak stopper unless you guys have a better idea. I really can't afford a mechanic right now.

Sir Trews,
By the way, how far north are you? I'm from Humboldt.
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Old 08-20-2006, 02:18 PM   #15
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Default Re: Green Asphault (better than red, worse than black)

I checked the cardboard this morning and there are a few different wet spots. There are three in a row on the right side of the cardboard and one in the bottom left-hand corner.
saturn11.jpg

The three drips in a row seem to be coming from here.
Attachment 6705

I was snooping around in the engine compartment and I ended up removing this piece. It seems to be attached to the air filter so its either input or output. The unattached end is green and wet like it's either been sucking in or spitting out coolant.
saturn10.jpg

With that piece removed I got a better look at what seems like a leaky area. You can see the newly exposed hose is wet and green.
saturn12.jpg

Here's a closer look. The wetness down there looks a little green when I touch it. You can see the drips on the cardboard in the background.
saturn13.jpg

I'm suspicious of this hose. I think it's attached to the radiator there but I don't really know what that is. The top is dry but my finger comes back wet and green after touching the underside.
saturn14.jpg

This is the same hose with the camera rotated 180 degrees.
saturn15.jpg

After closer examination of this area I pointed out yesterday, I think it's just dirty oil. My finger doesn't look green at all after touching it.
Attachment 6701

This area I pointed out yesterday does look green.
Attachment 6703

Here's a closer look. You can't see it in the picture, but there is some kind of a platform below the round thing that looks like it's holding thick pools of coolant.
Attachment 6704

I'll spray down the engine compartment and start looking for a coolant system pressure tester now. Is it worthwhile to put water in the coolant tank after the compartment dries to try and find the leak if I don't have a pressure tester?
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Old 08-20-2006, 02:33 PM   #16
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Default Re: Green Asphault (better than red, worse than black)

Good news. Auto Zone wants a $75 deposit for a coolant system pressure tester and they refund the entire amount when you bring it back.

So I'll spray the engine compartment down, wait for it to dry, get the tester, put water in the coolant tank up to the indicated level, run the pressure tester according to the instructions in this thread, find the leak(s), and report back here with my findings.
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Old 08-20-2006, 03:22 PM   #17
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Default Re: Green Asphault (better than red, worse than black)

One other thing. When I my car was overheating the first time and I saw that my coolant tank was empty I was desperate for coolant so I bought the only bottle the gas station had even though it didn't say "phosphate-free glycol something something" like the coolant cap says it requires. Could that have caused the leak(s) or is all coolant pretty much compliant with that these days?
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Old 08-20-2006, 04:47 PM   #18
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Default Re: Green Asphault (better than red, worse than black)

you can use any antifreeze in an emergency. Phosphates or not... It's better than running dry. Incidentally it distresses me to see you drove 12 miles with the gauge in the red hot zone... not a good thing for the car.

That thing with the slots under your bumper is there to direct air and deflect snow, you can in fact live without it and it comes off very easily. If you pull this off you might get a better look from below of where the leak is originating. The problem you are facing is that stuff is dripping on this shield and gravity flowing to a different part where it falls on the ground.

They sell a UV dye that you can add to coolant then look for it with a black light, fun stuff. Alternately fill the car with water and park over a fresh piece of cardboard with that shield removed.

DO NOT DRIVE WITHOUT COOLANT, be it 50% antifreeze, or in an emergency, water. Your leak sounds bad enough that you won't make it more than a couple miles without needing to refill.
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Old 08-20-2006, 05:09 PM   #19
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Default Re: Green Asphault (better than red, worse than black)

I just had another look underneath and the spot I cited at the "bottom left-hand corner of the cardboard" is really dripping alot now. I haven't started the car or anything but the temperature outside has definitely gone way up since this morning. Maybe that's why it's dripping so much all of a sudden. There is some kind of a metal plate above the wet spot that is completely covered in coolant and just dripping away. It seems to be directly under the coolant tank. The other "three drips in a row" area doesn't look like it has dripped since I last looked.

The engine compartment has now been thoroughly washed out and I'm waiting for it to dry with the hood up.
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Old 08-20-2006, 09:05 PM   #20
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Default Re: Green Asphault (better than red, worse than black)

1st guess is your water pump is going out. this pic would seem to indicate that coolant is getting flung on that hose by the belt. It can get flung lots of other places too which might be confusing you.

You may have multiple issues though.

How about if you fill the car with water and let it idle and watch? Then it will build up pressure naturally which might enhance the leak effect. Beware if something lets go suddenly you could get steamed, so just be aware.

You should take a peek at your temp gauge every so often and shut it down if it overheats.
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