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Auto losing coolant, no apparent leak on ground....

05/10/2022 7:59 PM

Long time no post.....

My son's girlfriend has a car (don't remember make) that has overheated due to loss of coolant. Has been filled a couple times. Does not seem to leave puddles on the ground.

I worry it is an internal seal in the engine.

Is there and 'easy' way to determine? And does it sound like a major $$ repair??

She doesn't have money flow to buy something else right now!

Many thanks!! ss

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#1

Re: Auto losing coolent, no apparent leak on ground....

05/10/2022 9:11 PM

Crack head, or blown head gasket…

pull your spark plugs, and check if they have a green tint… if they do, that’s it.

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#3
In reply to #1

Re: Auto losing coolent, no apparent leak on ground....

05/10/2022 9:21 PM

Engine appears to run smoothly - had a car once with blown head gasket and it did NOT run.

Are you pointing at a smaller leak??

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#6
In reply to #3

Re: Auto losing coolent, no apparent leak on ground....

05/11/2022 3:18 AM

It may well <...run smoothly...> until the coolant level gets so low that it expresses itself as a high temperature warning up to, and including, steam coming out of the coolant circuit in undesirable ways from undesirable places.

There is good advice elsewhere in replies to this thread. Please let the forum know how the investigation turns out.

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#23
In reply to #3

Re: Auto losing coolent, no apparent leak on ground....

05/12/2022 11:02 AM

This is over time small leak, it was a recall on the engine in all models except the Cougar… said the dealer,… how is that? They looked into it and it was put on the list.

The biggest issue is not catching it…

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#2

Re: Auto losing coolent, no apparent leak on ground....

05/10/2022 9:13 PM

Also check if there’s a recall.

I girl I used to date had a cougar, it had the same issue… so I googled it, and they had a recall on the 302 engine for that. But not for the cougar… it took one phone call, it it was covered.

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#4

Re: Auto losing coolent, no apparent leak on ground....

05/10/2022 10:25 PM

I had a problem like that once, the radiator fan had quit working... it would heat up and overflow the overflow container or something, never could find the exact location of the discharge, and drip out coolant, but only when the engine was hot....the coolant is clear, no color and feels like a light oil, it appears like water from the AC condensate so it's hard to spot...

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#5

Re: Auto losing coolent, no apparent leak on ground....

05/11/2022 2:14 AM

Hi Sid,

If the cooling system is losing coolant (not leaking), it has to be going somewhere - the cooling system is a pressurized closed system. That somewhere could be the oil or out the exhaust. Here are a few things to test.

1. Leaking to the oil. If you pull the dipstick, you'll see a brown creamy substance that looks like a milkshake. Or if you open the oil cap, you'll see a brown milkshake on the underside.

2. Leaking to the exhaust. When the motor is warm, you'll see white coming out the exhaust pipe. If the leak is small, you may not see the white smoke. You may see the exhaust pipe dripping too. When the motor is cold and it's cold outside, you'll most likely see white smoke, even if the motor is good, so do this when the motor is warm.

You can also test the system for combustion gasses leaking into the cooling system. There's a tool that fits on the overflow tank neck. You fill the tool with a special liquid. Turn the motor on and let it get hot enough for the thermostat to open up. Then watch the liquid to see if it changes color. If combustion gasses are leaking into the cooling system, you'll also see bubbles. Be careful, because I've seen bad leaks, where the coolant will bubble up and shoot out - remember, it's at least 180 degrees and it'll burn you.

My gut feeling is that you have a major problem. If she needs a quick fix - I've seen this last up to 2 years - buy a bottle of Bars Leak Carbon Fiber Head Gasket repair. Follow the directions exactly. Yes, there are leaks so bad that it won't work, but it's worth a try. There are other brands, but this is the one I've heard works the best.

Let us know how it turns out.

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#7
In reply to #5

Re: Auto losing coolent, no apparent leak on ground....

05/11/2022 4:18 AM

"buy a bottle of Bars Leak Carbon Fiber Head Gasket repair."

Does that work without having to remove the head?

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#8
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Re: Auto losing coolent, no apparent leak on ground....

05/11/2022 6:34 AM

Bars Leaks gets mixed in with the coolant then circulates & plugs any leaks that it finds. I've used it successfully in the past when I was motoring on a strict budget. It can cause problems if you have a particularly fine heater matrix.

barsleaks

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#14
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Re: Auto losing coolent, no apparent leak on ground....

05/11/2022 3:31 PM

Make sure you use the carbon fiber version. Regular Bars Leak is an old fix, but the carbon fiber works much, much better.

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#15
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Re: Auto losing coolent, no apparent leak on ground....

05/11/2022 3:37 PM

This stuff also doesn't clog up an old radiator or heater core. It's the same stuff that we in California used to kill motors on that Cars for Clunkers program - the dealer had to pour this stuff into the engine oil, which caused the motor to freeze up - CA didn't want these cars being put back on the road or the motors being re-used.

The carbon fiber is added to the solution to strengthen the glassy substance - the material becomes glassy when it's heated and when it leaks out of the cooling system.

This stuff has a limited life. I've heard of people getting a year to two years out of it.

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#22
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Re: Auto losing coolent, no apparent leak on ground....

05/12/2022 10:38 AM

That glassy substance is in fact glass. It's sodium silicate. Same stuff as muffler patch. I hardens up with some heat and CO2. It will kill an engine in the oil pan but save one in the cooling system.

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#34
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Re: Auto losing coolent, no apparent leak on ground....

05/25/2022 5:09 PM

This is what I love about this site. Very knowledgeable people here and I am confident that the info I'm getting is correct - much different than the internet or ... ummm ... social media or ... ummm ... the news media

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#30
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Re: Auto losing coolent, no apparent leak on ground....

05/25/2022 7:23 AM

The traditional remedy for agricultural ploughing engines that leaked was to tip a mixture of chopped straw, chopped oats and pig sh!t into it before topping it up again. Works every time!

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#31
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Re: Auto losing coolent, no apparent leak on ground....

05/25/2022 8:52 AM

Let’s give that ‘Head Seal’ a try before we do that….

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#32
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Re: Auto losing coolent, no apparent leak on ground....

05/25/2022 12:36 PM

I am sure with that mixture,it would be simple to sniff out the problem.

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#33
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Re: Auto losing coolent, no apparent leak on ground....

05/25/2022 4:32 PM

Well, to be sure… you should give it a lick test first…

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#35
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Re: Auto losing coolent, no apparent leak on ground....

05/25/2022 5:20 PM

Your home made remedy sounds great! I love hearing stories like yours - stuff that actually works and can be made on the spot!

Years ago, I took a trip to Peru. Magnificent place with the greatest people! I loved it!

Anyway, I found out how they make their houses - straw, mud and horse/cow dung! They make up a mixture and form blocks, which they dry in the sun. After the blocks are nice and solid, they make their home out of it. They leave doorways and windows open - most of them can't get the windows or doors, so the house has cloth covering the openings.

When you have a moment, go to Youtube and look up a guy called Project Farm. His older stuff is cool - he tests old stories, kinda like those two guys who blow up stuff on TV. On one of his videos, he tries to run a gas engine on bananas - he purees bananas and pours it in the crankcase. Of course drains the oil first, then pours the mix in. Very entertaining and over the years, he's become very proficient in testing things. In fact, he now tests things to see which product is the best - he buys the items himself and conducts the tests independent from the manufacturer. Recently, he tested knives - anywhere from the cheap made in China stuff to Milwaukee and then some esoteric specialty manufacturers. I thought the Milwaukee would be pretty good, but the specialty knives were much, much better.

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#10
In reply to #5

Re: Auto losing coolent, no apparent leak on ground....

05/11/2022 10:24 AM

I will second Bars Leak.

My girlfriend had a leak around the head gasket which was caused by an overheat when she let the coolant level get low.

Bars Leak kept her in business for over a year until she could afford to fix it, a $1,000.00 job.

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#20
In reply to #10

Re: Auto losing coolent, no apparent leak on ground....

05/12/2022 8:59 AM

I hope your girlfriend is better now and not overheating.

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#17
In reply to #5

Re: Auto losing coolent, no apparent leak on ground....

05/11/2022 5:53 PM

Thanks, I knew there were products like that, but just had not gotten auto parts store......

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#36
In reply to #17

Re: Auto losing coolent, no apparent leak on ground....

05/25/2022 5:26 PM

A lot of the auto store stuff doesn't work. This is one that does.

When I was a teenager, we would buy that VX4 (or something like that) at JC Whitney's - it was suppose to fix a bad battery. Well, you can guess how good it worked. When a battery has a bad cell, pouring magic fluid in won't help.

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#9

Re: Auto losing coolant, no apparent leak on ground....

05/11/2022 9:10 AM

Sometimes the radiator cap will fail to maintain pressure in the system,this will cause coolant to overflow into the reservoir when the engine is hot,and overflow while driving,leaving no sign of a leak when parked,and when the engine is cold,it will suck fluid out of the reservoir back into the engine,and continue this cycle till the fluid gets extremely low.I have seen this occur.Not often,but it does happen.

If you have no signs of water in the oil,as suggested,and do not see other signs,replace the radiator cap.Cheap fix if that is the problem.

Sealer additives are my last resort.They work for a while,but inevitably fail,in my experience.

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#11
In reply to #9

Re: Auto losing coolant, no apparent leak on ground....

05/11/2022 1:37 PM

I have also seen a leak from the bottom of the water pump weep hole.The coolant leakage was blown back and scattered on the engine where it evaporated,leaving no trace.When the engine cooled,there was no pressure in the system to force the antifreeze out so it did not leak out under the car.The leak is very hard to see on some vehicles.

Is there a sweet,acorn like smell around the car when hot? If so, it indicates that antifreeze is being blown back against the exhaust...probably the water pump.

If the smell is stronger in the exhaust gas it is probably a head gasket.

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#12
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Re: Auto losing coolant, no apparent leak on ground....

05/11/2022 1:47 PM

Lots of thongs can fix certain leaks.My stepdad was on the way back from the grocery store,about 20 miles away,when the radiator started leaking.

No service station nearby,so he poured a can of black pepper in the radiator and made it home. he left the pepper in it.The radiator never leaked again,and he had the car for years afterwards.

I don't recommend it,but in a pinch,use what you have.

Go figure.

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#16
In reply to #12

Re: Auto losing coolant, no apparent leak on ground....

05/11/2022 4:39 PM

I suppose… thong can replace a fan belt when in a pinch…

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#21
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Re: Auto losing coolant, no apparent leak on ground....

05/12/2022 9:00 AM

Nice catch.I proof read it and didn't see it till too late to edit.

I guess it depends on how strong the thong.If your thong is in a pinch,it is too small.

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#38
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Re: Auto losing coolant, no apparent leak on ground....

05/25/2022 5:37 PM

Cougars and thongs? Interesting engineering site. Indeed!!!

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#18
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Re: Auto losing coolant, no apparent leak on ground....

05/12/2022 4:00 AM

I've never heard of that fix, I wonder what the pepper does to plug the leak.

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#24
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Re: Auto losing coolant, no apparent leak on ground....

05/12/2022 11:35 AM

I believe people used to use mustard powder.

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#26
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Re: Auto losing coolant, no apparent leak on ground....

05/12/2022 5:38 PM

I think the mustard powder and pepper work on the same principle:The powder swells when it gets wet and hot,and forms a dam in the hole,like a strainer getting clogged.
The leak would probably come back if you drained and flushed the radiator.

I guess there is a possibility of blocking small passages if left in the radiator.Both are temporary fixes,but some people have no problem with clogging.I guess it depends on how much you put in and the size and location of the leak.

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#13
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Re: Auto losing coolant, no apparent leak on ground....

05/11/2022 3:25 PM

Yes, this is possible. The smell of a sweet smell will be apparent when you open the hood with a recently turned off motor or with the motor running.

If the OP thinks there's a chance it's a leak, he can do a dye test to find the leak. The kits aren't very expensive and if there's a leak, it'll show.

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#19

Re: Auto losing coolant, no apparent leak on ground....

05/12/2022 8:24 AM

Lots of advice given. I had the same problem, but fortunately under warrantee. Many trips to the dealer. They tried everything including a dye in the coolant to see if he leak was internal and showed up in the oil, all to no avail. Finally they replaced the engine, but never got back to me with the exact problem. Bars Leaks has been around for decades and can extend the time needed until the cash is available for a proper repair or replacement.

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#25

Re: Auto losing coolant, no apparent leak on ground....

05/12/2022 11:43 AM

It could be a leaky head gasket. If you get white exhaust, then it's for sure. I recommend tightening the head gasket bolts, or better yet, replacing the head gaskets. But look carefully below the water pump for leaks there.

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#27

Re: Auto losing coolant, no apparent leak on ground....

05/13/2022 5:16 AM

GM 3800 V-6 engines (late 1980's through 1990's era engines, as I recall) had a known problem with the plastic intake manifold gasket that would fail at various levels which allowed coolant to leak from the coolant passages directly into the cylinder. Antifreeze would exit through the exhaust pipe - no visible leak on the engine or on the ground. Mild leaks could go on for some period of time, with overheating due to coolant loss, but the catastrophic failure of the gasket would flood the cylinder with coolant and in the worst cases, hydrolock the engine at road speed causing all sorts of serious mechanical damage. GM paid out on a class action lawsuit some years ago.

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#37
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Re: Auto losing coolant, no apparent leak on ground....

05/25/2022 5:35 PM

Aaaaah, GM 3.8 V-6. Buick 231 motor, not the Chevy 229.

We had a 1978 Buick Century with the split crank (even fire) 231. Motor blew (rod bearing went) at slightly over 50k miles. Being a loyal Buick (and GM) customer, they agreed to rebuild the motor. We paid for parts and GM paid the labor (or vice versa). Anyway, it was a nice thing they did for us.

To this day, I'm okay buying GM products. I think a lot has to do with my dad being a GM guy and how Buick took care of us with the bad motor.

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#28

Re: Auto losing coolant, no apparent leak on ground....

05/13/2022 6:36 PM

All - thanks for all the suggestions...

I already bought the Bar's, but she beat me to it and bought a new (slightly used) car!!!

Very excited since this is her first car that was not aged and beat up - good for her!!!

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#29
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Re: Auto losing coolant, no apparent leak on ground....

05/15/2022 12:16 PM

Women, they don't mess about like men do. They move on!

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