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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, this could be deja vu to a lot of members, but my coolant level just disappears. i've not noticed any leaks under the car nor have i seen steam escaping. I bought my Cruiser a few weeks ago and SORN it until the nex road tax month...
I topped up all my fluid levels, the coolant bottle was bone dry so i filled it halfway between Hi n Low...

Went for a spin around the block to "boost the battery" and put the car to bed. The next morning, i noticed the coolant bottle was empty?? ok ..(with hindsight, I wasn't running the engine when i topped up).. so i topped up again...(and still didn't run the engine)
Went round the block and the bottle was empty!
Now i'm worried.. so i looked under the oil filler cap for THE sludge... nothing...where's the coolant mix going? IF there's air trapped in the system, where does the water go ?
I'm not noticing any overheating lamps... I CAN hear the bottle "bubblin" but unlike the threads I've seen up to now, the bottle bubbles when i have just started the car.. NOT while driving and NOT when i just get home. The oil seems clean not coffee coloured sludge, so i'm hoping that means the Head Gasket is ok??
I've waited so long to get another cruiser, now i'm scared to use it.
Can anyone advise please.

Thank you
 

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Welcome :cool:

When the engine is cold, and you remove the radiator cap, where is the coolant level then?

It should be up at the bottom of the radiator cap.
 

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Virginia Gentleman
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Went round the block and the bottle was empty!
If it leaks that fast, there almost have to be a trail behind the vehicle.

Crack in the overflow? Crack in the line connecting the radiator to the overflow? Loose clamps somewhere? Bad hose? As ElectricBlue posted, have you checked the coolant level in the radiator? Diagnose first before making assumptions. I'd check all hoses, clamps and the radiator for any sign of leakage.

If coolant isn't mixing with the oil, if it is indeed a head gasket failure, then it would point to exhaust gases getting pushed into the coolant passages in which case the coolant level would be overflowing out of the overflow. The old 2.2/2.5L engines were notorious for this when the headgasket blew - not always, but a good percentage of the time.
 

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Coolant system pressure tester. But, rent, or borrow one.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Welcome :cool:

When the engine is cold, and you remove the radiator cap, where is the coolant level then?

It should be up at the bottom of the radiator cap.
First things first eh? Thanks for your response... i can't get the rad cap off !!! (it turns but wont lift off.) shall i simply prise it off?
 

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Virginia Gentleman
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First things first eh? Thanks for your response... i can't get the rad cap off !!! (it turns but wont lift off.) shall i simply prise it off?
Most radiator caps loosen via a two stage process. First turn counterclockwise until it stops, then press down on the cap and continue to turn counterclockwise. The cap should release and come off.
 

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First things first eh? Thanks for your response... i can't get the rad cap off !!! (it turns but wont lift off.) shall i simply prise it off?
No, because you will most likely damage the neck where the cap is attached and have to replace the radiator too.
 
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You should take it to a shop that knows these cars. I'm sure they can get the cap off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Most radiator caps loosen via a two stage process. First turn counterclockwise until it stops, then press down on the cap and continue to turn counterclockwise. The cap should release and come off.
DOH!... why did i overlook that!.. thanks for reminding me, the cap will come off and YES i can see water down there but not upto the cap ... & is that evidence of a leak that i can also see? Maybe what i should be doing is gettin the car off the incline of the driveway, toppin up the coolant and idling the engine... to see what happens? As i initially stated, the bubbling happens in the first few minutes of idle
 

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Virginia Gentleman
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Normally the coolant level should be within an inch or so of the neck of where the cap attaches. So about even with the top of the radiator or just below where the overflow tube integrates into the radiator. If it's lower then yes it could be sign of a leak. As Valiant suggested you could rent or borrow a coolant pressure tester.

I would thoroughly check for leaks wherever there is a clamp and check all hoses for cracks. Check the water pump weep hole (most usually have one - not sure about the PT engines - never had one) - any wetness would indicate the water pump is failing and replacement is needed. Look for tell tale coolant stains (hard to see I'd admit).

However, if the overflow container is draining as fast as you indicate (after only driving around the block), then there is a massive leak somewhere. I'd be surprised if there wasn't a trail of coolant/water on the road though if the pavement is hot it would probably evaporate pretty quick.

Any sign or smell of coolant in the cabin? There is always the off chance the heater core has a leak (not a pleasant chore on most vehicles).
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
How long have you had your PT?
Hi, I've only had this current PT since mid AUG.. & maybe it hasn't been looked after for a while .. maybe a service at the garage will diagnose the fault .. the PT looks solid enough and that's something to work with.... it's done 111k so i'm expecting glitches but it doesn't put me off.....

I wasnt going to waste two weeks of road tax by paying it mid-month so i waited till 1st sept and then i could legally drop it onto the road where i could tinker around and check the fluid levels....slowly i'm finding my way around.

It's already had a new clutch fitted,(garage) ...as the pedal was higher than i liked.. and i've removed & fitted a door stay (myself) as the cracking and clunking everytime i opened the door was gettin annoying. Other than that I've replaced the chrome trim around the body, and tried to secure the KN filter which seems too high to shut the hood... the bracket it's attached to seems man-made and poorly fitted but... it's now a "bit" better.....having said that, i think i've read somewhere that air intake can influence fluid loss too?...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Normally the coolant level should be within an inch or so of the neck of where the cap attaches. So about even with the top of the radiator or just below where the overflow tube integrates into the radiator. If it's lower then yes it could be sign of a leak. As Valiant suggested you could rent or borrow a coolant pressure tester.

I would thoroughly check for leaks wherever there is a clamp and check all hoses for cracks. Check the water pump weep hole (most usually have one - not sure about the PT engines - never had one) - any wetness would indicate the water pump is failing and replacement is needed. Look for tell tale coolant stains (hard to see I'd admit).

However, if the overflow container is draining as fast as you indicate (after only driving around the block), then there is a massive leak somewhere. I'd be surprised if there wasn't a trail of coolant/water on the road though if the pavement is hot it would probably evaporate pretty quick.

Any sign or smell of coolant in the cabin? There is always the off chance the heater core has a leak (not a pleasant chore on most vehicles).
Hi Doug, thanks for your advice.... I guess that as i cant actually see a leak and as the car certainly hasn't overheated by just going round the block, would i be clutching at straws to say there might not have been any water in it when i got it?... i've put about 2 litres in...is it possible it was bone dry and i still need to put more in?... and maybe theres NOTHING wrong with it at all? or have i got my rose tinted specs on?

There's no smell of antifreeze .. and as the antifreeze shop was shut today i havent had a dabble with the PT..
 

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i've put about 2 litres in...is it possible it was bone dry and i still need to put more in?.
It's certainly possible it is merely low if you don't know the history of the vehicle. If it is indeed that low, fill as necessary with a 50/50 mix. With the engine cold and radiator cap off, fill the radiator. Leave the cap off and start the engine. Let it get to operating temperature. Add coolant as necessary until the level seems to be steady after several cycles of the fan operating - this may take a while as any trapped air eventually works its way out. Fill the overflow with coolant mix to the max line. Install cap.

As the vehicle is operated over the next two weeks, check the coolant level (engine cold) and top off as necessary (It may take several drive cycles to completely eliminate any trapped air). Check the hoses, clamps, etc for any possible leaks. Since the system was low, the missing coolant had to go somewhere. A closed system should not lose any coolant if all the clamps are good, hoses are good and the cap is the proper rating.
 

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Hi, I've only had this current PT since mid AUG.. & maybe it hasn't been looked after for a while .. maybe a service at the garage will diagnose the fault .. the PT looks solid enough and that's something to work with.... it's done 111k so i'm expecting glitches but it doesn't put me off.....

I wasnt going to waste two weeks of road tax by paying it mid-month so i waited till 1st sept and then i could legally drop it onto the road where i could tinker around and check the fluid levels....slowly i'm finding my way around.

It's already had a new clutch fitted,(garage) ...as the pedal was higher than i liked.. and i've removed & fitted a door stay (myself) as the cracking and clunking everytime i opened the door was gettin annoying. Other than that I've replaced the chrome trim around the body, and tried to secure the KN filter which seems too high to shut the hood... the bracket it's attached to seems man-made and poorly fitted but... it's now a "bit" better.....having said that, i think i've read somewhere that air intake can influence fluid loss too?...
Be very careful driving your PT with low coolant, if it overheats, that can cause a lot of damage.

At 111k miles, do you know if the timing belt work has been done? Normally when that work is done, the water pump is also replaced.
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Be very careful driving your PT with low coolant, if it overheats, that can cause a lot of damage.

At 111k miles, do you know if the timing belt work has been done? Normally when that work is done, the water pump is also replaced.
Hi.. No i don't have anything confirming belts or filters or maintenance in general has been undertaken... it's tentative steps at this stage and i'm not going to tempt fate and go on a jolly until i'm sure my PT will get me back safe. When i get another vehicle i usually go thru belts, filters, brakes, balancing, fluids, bulbs, exhaust check etc... then i take it in for a pre-test once i've eliminated the "simple things" i'm proud of my motor, i know PT's are not to everyones taste but i think they have character.. i'm not into creating a muscle car, i admire the guys that can... i just want a safe car that turns heads, and round where i live the heads are spinning
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
It's certainly possible it is merely low if you don't know the history of the vehicle. If it is indeed that low, fill as necessary with a 50/50 mix. With the engine cold and radiator cap off, fill the radiator. Leave the cap off and start the engine. Let it get to operating temperature. Add coolant as necessary until the level seems to be steady after several cycles of the fan operating - this may take a while as any trapped air eventually works its way out. Fill the overflow with coolant mix to the max line. Install cap.

As the vehicle is operated over the next two weeks, check the coolant level (engine cold) and top off as necessary (It may take several drive cycles to completely eliminate any trapped air). Check the hoses, clamps, etc for any possible leaks. Since the system was low, the missing coolant had to go somewhere. A closed system should not lose any coolant if all the clamps are good, hoses are good and the cap is the proper rating.
I'll give it a go in the morning, (it's night time here now) i am going to follow your guide and patiently sit and watch what happens. Cheers Doug
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
well i "gave it a go..."...i filled up to the max, which took just over a litre.. ran the engine till the temp needle came up and sat halfway... i thought i'd turn the blowers on too to get everything sloshing around. i switched off, no bubbling noticed, the bottle was still at the max. i've sorted it... yayyy...haven't i? no u aint.... booo

Anyhoo, i thought i'd push my luck and go "round the block", posin at 25mph, like y' do.... i did a trip of no more than 3 mile, watching the temp needle sat at halfway.

When i got back and popped the lid... there was about half inch of coolant in the bottle......? no steam, no wet hoses or puddles on the floor. *sigh*

For a while there i had hoped there wasn't a problem and the PT had been dry as a bone when i got it... but.... it doesn't look good..

I haven't undone the engine cap to look for THE sludge, other than that i'm clueless.
 

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well i "gave it a go..."...i filled up to the max, which took just over a litre.. ran the engine till the temp needle came up and sat halfway... i thought i'd turn the blowers on too to get everything sloshing around. i switched off, no bubbling noticed, the bottle was still at the max. i've sorted it... yayyy...haven't i? no u aint.... booo

Anyhoo, i thought i'd push my luck and go "round the block", posin at 25mph, like y' do.... i did a trip of no more than 3 mile, watching the temp needle sat at halfway.

When i got back and popped the lid... there was about half inch of coolant in the bottle......? no steam, no wet hoses or puddles on the floor. *sigh*

For a while there i had hoped there wasn't a problem and the PT had been dry as a bone when i got it... but.... it doesn't look good..

I haven't undone the engine cap to look for THE sludge, other than that i'm clueless.
Please do what was suggested early on ;)

Coolant system pressure tester. But, rent, or borrow one.
 
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These engines are pretty good about not overheating until there is a lack of fluid. Sometimes it takes a couple times of filling, running, and checking before the level is where it belongs, that's normal. I have had to do this two or three times with mine, but they never were low and overheated from a bubble of air, they purge really well, but levels might drop. Now that the radiator is full, add to the overflow, going above the hot line is OK, the engine has to warm up, push fluid through the overflow line and into the tank,, and there is plenty of room in it so no harm will occur, air bubbles in the hose itself sometimes give a false level, or, expanded fluid is so slow that the bubble still exists sometimes.

The one spot for a small leak is the thermostat housing. it is on the passenger side of the head, the upper radiator hose attaches to it, temp sensor is located on it, and they tend to slowly seep really slow over time and corrode. Who ever thought a steel gasket with rubber on either side sandwiched between aluminum and water going through it is a good idea, I've redone them four times on two PT Cruisers I have in the family. Last time I put a thin layer of #2 Permatex on both sides of the metal gasket to act as a shield against the steel and aluminum from contacting each other and it seems to prevent the corrosion problem.
 
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