Disappearing Coolant --> SEVERE Coolant Leak



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Thread: Disappearing Coolant --> SEVERE Coolant Leak

  1. #1
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    Thumbs down Disappearing Coolant --> SEVERE Coolant Leak

    So Shipo and I had a conversation a few months ago in a previous thread about possible reasons for a continuously empty coolant overflow reservoir bottle... something that makes us a wee bit uneasy seeing as overheating 3.3L/3.8L are really nasty things to deal with.

    Anyway, last week I was changing my oil (Realized it had almost been 6,000 miles since my last change of Mobil 1 Extended Performance 5W-30 Synthetic). When I went to close the hood I looked at my coolant bottle which I had JUST filled two weeks ago. (I went to the dealer, made the mechanic tell me the SPECIFIC type of fluid needed, bought a gallon of it and filled the bottle.)

    Well when I looked, the bottle was empty! Well, not empty, but the fluid level was way below the MIN line. So, remembering what Shipo said about how the van is probably consuming coolant through cracks in the block (and how there really is no fix), I just went to get my gallon bottle of coolant, and I filled it up again.

    As soon as I was done pouring, I began to walk away and that's when I heard the sound of liquid leaking out onto the pavement at a very steady rate. I looked underneath the van and right in front of my face, saw this:



    There goes my brand new coolant right spot onto the ground. It was a bittersweet moment because I was really happy to know where my coolant was going, and that it wasn't indeed being consumed in the engine, but it was bad at the same time because now I have a MAJOR leak to find and deal with.

    Seeing as it was a cloudy day, 29 degrees and the lighting was bad, I tried my best to get some pictures of where the leak appeared to be coming from. But I'm still at a loss as to where it may be pouring out. Help!!!

    This is what came out of aiming the digital camera up at the bottom of the van directly above the puddle of new, expensive, wasted coolant:





    Is the bottle cracked? Or is the pipe FROM the bottle cracked? Or is the attachment point between the bottle and the pipe loose? I have no idea how to even go about figuring this out without paying to get access to a full vehicle lift which I don't have access to.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    1996 Chrysler Town & Country LX [My lovable Daily-Driver]
    2000 Chrysler Town & Country Limited [Yes, it's still around!]
    2000 Chrysler 300M [New kid on the block...]

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  3. #2
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    kinda hard to tell from the pictures but my first thing would be to check all the coolant hoses, as those could be cracking. It could be the bottle is cracked too, but I've never heard of those cracking, though in car repair there can be some very odd stuff that can happen.
    Im 24 and my parents own a 2007 Dodge Caliber SXT (1.8l 74k miles 5spd), a 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT(3.8l 41TE 106k miles), a 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser ((which is mine) 2.4l 115k miles 41TE), 2000 Ford Mustang base (3.8l, 4 spd auto 26k miles), and a 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport(sold @ 122337 miles)

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    A couple of thoughts:

    - It could very well be coming from the place where the hose connects - especially if someone overtightened a clamp there and broke the bottle... you'll just need to get in there with a flashlight and find out.... The coolant bottle and overflow hose are not pressurized, so if there is a leak, you should be able to find it without much trouble. All you have to do is remove one hex screw to pull the coolant bottle out and inspect it.

    - Oftentimes the coolant level will rise somewhat just after turning the engine off, esp. if the engine was heated up quite a lot. In the minutes after engine-off, the coolant continues to heat up and expand as more heat is absorbed from the engine block and heads. If you top the coolant off immediately after the engine is turned off, there is a slight chance you could end up with an overflow.

    - G
    1998 Grand Voyager @267,000mi, 3.3L FFV V6

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    Can you lift the bottle out from the top (my van is out shopping...)? Lift it out, fill with water and look at it. Those drips appear to be from a little spillage during the refill (again, no van). With the bottle out and the hose disconneted, you can also examine the hose.

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    The expansion tank is held in place with just one self-tapping screw, the bottom
    has a protrusion that fits into a hole in the sheetmetal. Plug the overflow hose
    with something after you disconnect it.
    If that's really the place the coolant is leaking from, the had to be some coolant
    seen on the ground before.

    I found two weeks ago a pinhole leak in that pipe assembly for the rear heater.
    One pipe is badly rusted at one spot, with a bulge all the way around. Wrapped
    it temporarily with plumbing repair tape, now waiting for better weather to
    perform the replacement.

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    I don't know the underhood location of things 3rd gen, but I think your radiator just peed the bed...

    ----

    BTW - I presume you're cutting that expensive coolant with 50% distilled water, before refilling - or else your putting too much in (coolant & $).

    -Jim

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    A couple of points:

    Quote Originally Posted by Chrysler1924 View Post
    So Shipo and I had a conversation a few months ago in a previous thread about possible reasons for a continuously empty coolant overflow reservoir bottle... something that makes us a wee bit uneasy seeing as overheating 3.3L/3.8L are really nasty things to deal with.

    Anyway, last week I was changing my oil (Realized it had almost been 6,000 miles since my last change of Mobil 1 Extended Performance 5W-30 Synthetic). When I went to close the hood I looked at my coolant bottle which I had JUST filled two weeks ago. (I went to the dealer, made the mechanic tell me the SPECIFIC type of fluid needed, bought a gallon of it and filled the bottle.)

    Well when I looked, the bottle was empty! Well, not empty, but the fluid level was way below the MIN line. So, remembering what Shipo said about how the van is probably consuming coolant through cracks in the block (and how there really is no fix), I just went to get my gallon bottle of coolant, and I filled it up again.
    I'm sorry if I misrepresented what I was trying to say back during our previous discussion on this issue, but at least in the case of my van and a few others around here, I don't believe that the gradual coolant loss is via any "cracks in the block". That said, given that my swap of the head gaskets last summer did nothing to slow the amount of coolant my engine is drinking, our fellow member friscovoyager suggested that the leak may well be past the coolant passage "O" rings in the timing cover.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chrysler1924 View Post
    Is the bottle cracked? Or is the pipe FROM the bottle cracked? Or is the attachment point between the bottle and the pipe loose? I have no idea how to even go about figuring this out without paying to get access to a full vehicle lift which I don't have access to.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    I'm thinking that your bottle has a problem as the drips seem to be directly underneath the bottle. As somebody already said, pulling the bottle for a quick inspection is really easy. Give it a look-see and let us know what you find.
    Sold: 1998 DGC Sport 3.8 (Final odo: 178,000 miles)
    Sold: 1998 Chrysler T&C LXi 3.8 (Final odo: 190,000 miles)
    Sold: 2003 DGC ES 3.8 (Final odo: 172,000 miles)
    1998 Audi A4 Quattro (5-Speed manual)
    2001 Honda Accord EX V6 (4-Speed automatic)
    2009 Mazda3 i Touring (5-Speed manual)
    2012 VW GTI (6-Speed manual)

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    Rethinking this...

    If the coolant is quickly dropping to below MIN (even without running the engine), and then (more/less) staying put at that level - I'd go with "bad/leaking expansion bottle".

    -Jim

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    Quote Originally Posted by JCamasto View Post
    Rethinking this...

    If the coolant is quickly dropping to below MIN (even without running the engine), and then (more/less) staying put at that level - I'd go with "bad/leaking expansion bottle".

    -Jim
    This is what I'm thinking only because the bottle doesn't appear to empty completely. Once the level drains below the MIN point, it seems to stop. Tomorrow I'm going to see if I can figure out how to pull out the container to inspect it.

    As far as I understand so far, the process should go like this correct?

    1. Remove single screw attaching bottle to body.
    2. Take coolant hose off bottom of the bottle and plug it with a cloth or something
    3. Inspect the bottle for leaks
    4. Reinstall
    1996 Chrysler Town & Country LX [My lovable Daily-Driver]
    2000 Chrysler Town & Country Limited [Yes, it's still around!]
    2000 Chrysler 300M [New kid on the block...]

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    Kind of...

    1. Remove bottle
    2. Detach hose by squeezing clamp-ends with pliers while trying to slide clamp up the hose clear of the nipple on the bottle.
    3. Stretch hose while pulling on it trying to get it to come off.
    4. When the hose finally comes off, spashing coolant everywhere, regain compsure and seal the nipple with a finger...any finger.
    5. Drain remaining coolant into a container then rinse the coolant off the paint, engine, windshield, hair, skin and clothes and also the scum out of bottle. Then fill with water and leak check.
    6. Examine the hose as well by bending and twisting to look for cracks and holes.
    7. Hopefully it won't be a big waste of time but it seems like a good place to start...

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