Question about 2003 Chevrolet Malibu

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Water leak coming from under driver's side of manifold.

I noticed a leak but could not see where it was coming from. I used some Bars leak to stop any leaks in the cooling system. This did not work. I have been traveling and I am now about 900 miles away from home so I do not have my tools and any place to investigate what the problem may be. This afternoon I noticed when looking at the manifold from the drivers side fender what looked like a hole, whether this hole is intentional or not, I could see with a flash light inside what I think is the bottom of the manifold. I could see a small stream of water shooting from the center towards the back about 3 or 4 inches in from the throttle body. I am driving the car and am constantly looking at the temp, guage so no over heating will occur. I add about 3/4 of a gallon of water about every 20-30 minutes. Unfortunatley, I am in Eugene, OR with night temperatures of 30 degrees so my heater is requred. The heater runs fine when I have filled the water tank but after running the car for about 10 minutes, even with the heater on high, it blows cold air until I replenish the water again.
I hope you can resolve my problem quickly as I need to return home by Tuesday morning Nov 6.
My car is a 2003 Chevy Malibu 3.1 litre V6

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  • 2 more comments 
  • dbarbara74 Jan 04, 2009

    It seems to be further in from the mounting sleeve where the thermostat is mounted.

  • dbarbara74 Jan 04, 2009

    At this time there is no anti freeze in the cooling system because it leaks out and would be costly.

  • dbarbara74 Jan 04, 2009

    Let me try to explain as best as I can what I see. When I look at the manifold from the firewall side, I see a pool of water under the manifold; when I look from the timing
    belt end I again see a pool of water under the manifold; when I look from the drivers side front corner I see water running down onto the transmission to the ground. Commenting on scary66613, this could be the answer but I have not checked this out or anything because I am vacationing and don't have the means. I appreciate any advise because it will help me determine what I will need to repair instead of taking out parts I don't need to.

  • dbarbara74 Jan 04, 2009

    I saw no leaks from the radiator but as I wrote before i saw a stream of water, approximately the diameter size of 2 #2 pencil leads, when looking at the manifold from the drivers side fender.

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7 Answers

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HI
there are oil galleries in the had so that the valves and cam can get some lubricant so it maybe that in one of those oil galleries has a crack and same with the head gasket so it could be either one 

Posted on Jan 04, 2009

  • ABHISHEK.C
    ABHISHEK.C Jan 04, 2009

    IF YOU CHECKED Check your coolant level and see if it is down. If you have checked heads you will notice your engine oil beginning to turn milky white.

    If you want a more complete check for cracked heads, plug all spark plugs, and if you can get a coolant pressure tester, pump it up to 12 or 13 psi and then crank the engine over. Watch for water to spray out of one of the cylinders.



    AND A friend of mine has a 96 A4 with an automatic, with basically the same symptoms as you are seeing. What we found on his car was that the TCU (transmission control unit) was bad. It's under the carpet, passenger front. Pull up the carpeting and you'll see a black box with a big cable going into it - that contains the TCU. We put a TCU from a tiptronic car in, and the behavior of the transmission changed dramatically. It was not a fix (tip and non-tip TCUs can't be interchanged) but we did see that it wasn't a band problem in the transmission - whereas with his original TCU he had to drop it to low gear and get the car moving before it'd shift for itself, with the tip TCU the car would start out in drive just fine, but wouldn't go over 3rd gear. He's sourcing a TCU now to replace his.
    Your alternatives for this would be (in my recommended order) - rebuild your TCU via www.modulemaster.com, buy a used one with matching numbers from www.shokan.com, or cringe as you go to a dealer to shell out almost $1600 for a new one. ModuleMaster has a great reputation in the Audi community for quick turnaround, great work, and warranty-backing of its work, and Shokan is an Audi-specific salvage yard in upstate NY that deals in these cars exclusively. Check them out and I am sure that either can supply you with a functional TCU.

  • ABHISHEK.C
    ABHISHEK.C Jan 04, 2009

    Radiator's with auto trans vehicles have transmission oil coolers built into one end of them,or top or bottom,and this is how the transmission fluid is cooled.I have seen a few over the years,where the tank in the radiator developed a leak,and engine water based coolant enters the transmission.Very bad,as clutch plates and bands have mostly paper,sometimes kevlar or high energy linings that are glued onto the steel clutch plates with water based glue.Well,when the water from the engine finally gets to this glue,it dissolves,and the linings just fall off the steel plates,and the trans no longer functions.If you catch it very early,this can be headed off by doing a total trans flush to remove any and all coolant from the transmission.Make certain this includes changing the filter..And of course replace the radiator with a new one.








    freeze plugs checked they are fine all 3 of them. and nope the air conditioner isnt running. example: if i start it and let it idle it will leak visibaly but not a steady stream. after the motor starts to heat up the stream gets bigger and bigger but no gushing. oh and i forgot to mention the water is just water not other fluids in it. not to sound stupid but im not sure about which of the hoses are heater and radiator but we checked them all. there is a plate covering the face of the big end of the transmission and a pipe coming out of it and looks as if it is going into the motor. its leaking at the plate and entrance of the plate is what it seems like. 

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  • Master
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Hello,

From what you stated regarding a stream shooting out from under the manifold it suggests you have a pin hole corrosion leak starting in one of the freeze plugs.

These can be easily discovered and repaired and a replacement plug that has an expanding rim. A garage mechanic can have that fixed in ten minutes so don't let money scare you and have it taken care of right away.

The keyword in the was your stating a stream of water, tht is almost always from a pinhole leak and they almost always come form a freeze plug but could be form some thing else. Have it looked at soon. These are not costly repairs.

Regards,
Worldvet

Posted on Jan 04, 2009

  • Glenn Rogers
    Glenn Rogers Jan 04, 2009

    Just a note, normally you won't see a leak from a freeze plug when the water and engine is hot and the water level is above the freeze plug hole as the water is vaporized by its heat and the proximity to the manifold.

    You will only see a leak from that when you fill the system up again and the water is still cool enough to not vaporize on exit. Then, it appears as a stream as you described.

    Another thing, when you loose heat form your heater the water level is low enough to not fill your heat exchanger, a sort of radiator, the water in this is too low to overcome the cool air passing through it.

    Best thing to do is see a garage mechanic soon. I'd call tripple A, whether a member or not, you will at least get to a good shop who will easily diagnose your problem and avoid all these preposterous complicated issues that are rarely seen upon a simple issue.

    Keep in mind Ahcehm's Razor where the more complicated a problem appears the more simple the solution.


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Well just for emergency purposes you need to slow the water leak down.... If I were you I would accomplish this by removing the thermostat this will allow free flow of coolant/water and should last longer in your system due to no backpressure from thermostat...Make sure when you remove the thermostat that you use a 50/50 antifreeze mixture after you monitor the loss of coolant that is incurred... If you are still loosing to much back off the radiator cap ti the first click position so you will have as little pressure as possible... Be very careful to monitor temp and rest assured that this is by no means a fix for your problem... You should have it checked by a professional as soon as possible.....I hope that this helps you get home....Good Luck!!!!

Posted on Jan 04, 2009

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Hi and welcome to FixYa,

Your particular model is not very common in my country. However on known issues with similar year/make, a common fault is on the intake manifold gasket itself degraded by the "Dex-Cool" coolant. You would be very interested with the pages here and here.

Temporary/emergency workaround for your current concern (how to get home) since the Bars Stop Leak did not work, use chicken eggs if the hole is not that big yet.

Good luck and Thank you for using FixYa.

Posted on Jan 04, 2009

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Did you check if there are any leaks form the radiator ? How can you be sure its from manifolds? It might just run along the pipes outer surface.
I think the radiator is leaky. Might have to replace it.

Posted on Jan 04, 2009

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Well, it all depends on how you define a "water leak". First of all, is it coolant, or actual water? Second of all, is the vehicle four wheel drive or two? Third, if the truck has a 6 cyl, or 4 cyl. Now, if you have a two wheel drive with a 4 cyl, they have been known to blow head gaskets. If the truck is a 6 cyl, with 4x4 or 4x2, you may have leaking oil cooler lines. The previous alligations only count if you are leaking coolant. Now, regardless of the combination of drivetrains, if you are leaking water then it could either be the condensation from the air conditioning system (Normal), or you have a leak in your washer fluid reservior. Or, you may have a small leak in your exhaust system which can cause water due to condensation to leak out. Ultimately, have the Head Gasket, Cooling system, Washer Reservior and Exhaust System checked.

Posted on Jan 04, 2009

  • technodeal Jan 04, 2009

    there is a cup in the rubber windshield pilar mldg. There is a drain hole there, If the cup is slightly folded over by the side roof w/strip instead of sliding in to the cup water will come inside the car instead of draining out. I have seen this happen and it is easy to correct by making sure the side w/strip slides into the cup. Pull the top back a bit to showing the exposed rubber cup that holds the side roof rail when completly closed.

    If it is cool outside after washing the rubber may bend over and block the hole, just simple watch for it and if it happends you need to reposition the lip of the cup.

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Welcome to Fixya! Ok This Water Could be coming from the Mounting Sleeve Where the Thermostat is Mounted. Have you Looked There?

Posted on Jan 04, 2009

  • 2 more comments 
  • Travis Humphries
    Travis Humphries Jan 04, 2009

    Dude has no Idea! Ok there should not be any Water or Coolant in the Manifold Area Unless it is Spraying from another area. Do you see any Pooling at any Certain Area?

  • Travis Humphries
    Travis Humphries Jan 04, 2009

    Have you got it Running to build up some Preassure so we can narrow this down? Makes it a Lot Quicker.

  • Travis Humphries
    Travis Humphries Jan 04, 2009

    It is not Uncommon to Develop a Leak at the Point That is Said Before. The Hole could be just so Small that you really can't Locate it right now But, Under Preassure it will lose a Considerable amount of Water Pretty Fast. You May need to wait till first light to Really get a grip on this Leak.

  • Travis Humphries
    Travis Humphries Jan 04, 2009

    For a Quick fix you could stop and get some JB Weld and try to cover those Holes and see What you can get. May hold you long enough to get Back a ways.

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