My engine coolant is leaking but can't tell where it is leaking. It does not leak all the time. Replaced the thermostat and cap but no luck. It doesn't seem to be coming from hoses or water pump. Any thoughts?
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Hi Jonny, While the engine is cold the thermostat will be closed, allowing coolant circulation around the engine block and cylinder head but not through the radiator. Only when the engine has reached normal operating temperature will circulation be noted in the radiator. A good test is to remove the thermostat while the engine is cold , start the engine with the radiator pressure cap removed and observe flow. If as I suspect it is there, refit the thermostat and check the heat gauge. If all remains well there is no problem. If the engine overheats replace another thermostat. If there is no circulation with the thermostat removed, there is a blockage in the cooling galleries of the engine. If chemical flushing does not clear it, it will require disassembly of the engine with careful step by step inspection at every stage. If the cylinder head(s) had been removed I would suggest making sure of the galleries not being blocked by installing the gaskets incorrectly. Regards John
The rise in engine temp after replacing the radiator and thermostat could possibly be caused by air pockets trapped in the cooling system. You will need to run the engine with the radiator cap off and let the air escape. DO THIS only when the engine is cold, and let it build up to temp. Coolant will over flow during this process, but eventually coolant will need to be added once the air is released.
Likely the heater isn't blowing hot because the coolant level is low. You need to look at everything...hoses, under the pump pulley, radiator, both sides of the engine from underneath and check the tailpipe for steam. No one can tell you what's leaking without looking at it. There are too many items that can leak. Look carefully and you will find the problem. When checking, look first with the engine cold and the cap removed. If you find nothing, put the cap back on and run it to build pressure and look again. (careful working near fan and belt...you can get hurt there)
It takes a lot more than a small leak to consider your engine as "totaled" Have the system pressure tested and carefully inspected. Every leak has a source. some are easy to find, some are a bit more difficult. A shop can use a fluorescent dye and a black light to locate the source if you can't. I'd check the corners of the intake manifold and timing chain housing. Also, check the hoses again. A small pin-hole can squirt coolant far away from the hole itself and is often very difficult to see.
If it's pushing coolant out from under the cap, you may have another problem (head gasket or cracked cylinder head) but if the leak is anywhere else on the radiator (except hose connections) then the radiator needs to be repaired or replaced. Always re-fill coolant with the engine running and heat on high to avoid any air pockets in the system.
If you put the thermostat in correctly (spring towards the engine) that should be OK. Likely if the water pump wasn't leaking or had a bad bearing, you wasted your $ on that. If you re-filled it and did not have the heater on high heat, you may have some trapped air in there. But, still overheating says another thing. If you have a blown head gasket, it can pump compression into the cooling system and drive the coolant from the core. It will also overheat. You can have that tested at most any decent shop that will do a hydrocarbon test to find that.I think someone makes a chemical test kit for that but not sure if it's very expensive or not. White smoke from tailpipe will also be an indicator as will be any coolant in the engine oil or coolant on one or more spark plugs. If it turns out that it has a head gasket problem don't stop looking for problems as often a faulty fan or obstructed radiator can cause the initial overheat that caused the gasket to fail.
I think you need to service the cooling system on this 15 year old car. But first, turn on the A/C and the cooling fan should run continuously. If not, the fan motor is bad, the fuse is blown, or the relay is defective. Also if the fan runs with the A/C on but does not run when it is not on even when the engine overheats, the thermal relay is bad. Check the water pump closely for leaks. If you see a leak at the pump it is bad and must be replaced. If you see white smoke from the exhaust or a white foam on the underside of the oil fill cap, and are loosing coolant with no apparent leak, you may have a blown head gasket. If so, have it looked at by a professional for diagnosis. If you do not think you have a blown gasket then proceed. Inspect all hoses and replace as necessary. Purchase 1 gallon of antifreeze and 1 gallon of distilled water or 2 gallons of premixed coolant. Also purchase a new thermostat. Set the heater to hot, drain the coolant, flush the system, and replace the thermostat. Pour in a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and distilled water. Leave the radiator cap off and start the engine. Keep the radiator topped off and you watch for air bubbles escaping from the radiator. When you see no air bubbles escaping replace the cap and check for leaks.