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Losing coolant

2921 Views 12 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  rlitman
My current truck (the one I will soon be getting rid of) is starting to lose coolant over a rather short period of time. For the past few years I've had to add coolant about 1 or maybe 2 times a year, never really thought anything of it as it wasn't that often that I would have to add some. Well, I just added coolant back in mid-January when my "low coolant" light came on. And just yesterday my "low coolant" light came on again! I just added coolant 2 months ago and now I had to again?!

I can't see any leaks on my garage floor and it doesn't appear to be leaking while the truck is parked. I have a feeling that this will be a fairly expensive repair.

Anyone have any idea if this actually will be an expensive repair or what might be the problem?
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If the coolant was in your oil. you woud know just by pulling the dip stick.
The oil would look milky.
And you'd have a mayonnaise like goo on the bottom of the oil cap, and might be blowing lots of white smoke out the tailpipe.
All three of these things though, can happen in an engine that gets water in the oil through condensation too, and I've had a dealer try to tell me these were signs of a blown head gasket, when it turned out to be a bad radiator, and a vehicle only driven on short around-town trips (which don't get the oil hot enough to boil off the water).

Coolant leaks can be tricky. You may have more than one (very common). Often, the system only leaks under pressure, so if you fix one leak, the pressure goes higher, and new leaks appear.

I'd get a radiator pressure test kit. They run about $80+. It replaces your radiator cap, when the engine is off and cold. You use a small included pump, to raise the pressure up to operating pressure (this can vary depending on the vehicle), and that may make the leak appear. Pump it too high, and you can damage things.

Check the easy things first. Heater hoses, radiator hoses, thermostat gasket, and radiator end caps. After that, there's the heater core ($$), head gasket ($$$), and radiator ($-$$).
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Very true. Used oil is carcenogenic BTW, and ethylene glycol is incredibly toxic.
They say lead acetate is sweet tasting also, but its not something I'll ever find out.

I was saying that seeing signs on water on the oil cap, or in the oil, aren't necessarily signs of coolant.

YMMV with fluorescent dye. I've tried that, but aluminum oxide (which is going to be present all over an aluminum block) is fluorescent under UV as well.
Parked indoors, with zero ambient light, and a quality blacklight, with a small enough leak, everything may appear to glow.
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