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Old 11-19-2001, 10:12 PM   #1
ColinL
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Join Date: Jul 1999
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Location: Wichita, KS and Whoring, OT
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'03 Evo, Rice White
'01 Erion CBR 929

Exclamation serious coolant leak

On the 25 minute drive home from work today I lost close to 2 quarts of coolant. I noticed a bit of steam 2 lights from home and smelled coolant, but the gauge was normal. 1 light from home the temp needle suddenly climbed skyward, and I immediately cranked the heat to full blast but it still spiked while waiting ~30s for the light. Once rolling at 40mph it dropped to normal within 60-90 seconds but began climbing again as soon as I did 50yds @ 15 mph into my cul-de-sac.

Stopping in the garage I could see the coolant dripping and boiling on the left header, and both fans were working normally. I shut it off but turned the key back to ON to allow the fans to keep going and watched more coolant drip and boil.

Overflow tank is at the full line and not one bit high or low. I just flushed the system *extremely* well about a month ago to convert to DexCool antifreeze-- yes I know what dexcool and normal antifreeze do when mixed. Leak is coming from the back of the engine, under the left cylinder head. If you look at the back of the LH head from the top, look right past the end of the casting and that's where it's leaking, right onto the crossmember. Sure doesn't seem to be leaking nearly fast enough to be a freeze plug. No leaking at all until today, by the way.

Unfortunately the crossmember is blocking my view. Re-adding coolant immediately resulted in visible dripping and the 75% of the LH head that can be seen from below unobstructed by the crossmember looks free of coolant. The coolant looks very clean and the oil is also very clean (Mobil 1 10w30 done same weekend as the flush&fill) with no sign of coolant.

Possibilities that come to mind:

freeze plug from head or block
heater core or bypass hose
head gasket

Where are the heater lines? Are there any other coolant connectors or plugs in the immediate area of just under the left cylinder head?

Any other suggestions appreciated too.
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Old 11-19-2001, 11:21 PM   #2
lark6
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70 911T

Unhappy

Well, Colin, you know from my own recent past experience I'd say look to the head gasket first. After that I'd venture freeze plug.

Have that puppy towed* to your dealer or other competent service facility and have them run a leakdown test.

As such a scooby newbie I've looked to you for direction, so now I'm pulling for you - keeping my fingers crossed.

Good luck,
Ed

*towed - you know I mean flatbedded.
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Old 11-19-2001, 11:38 PM   #3
ColinL
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Am going to have a good look myself first, but probably won't do major disassembly if I can't find something obvious. I can't wait that long and putting in the time (to say pull the head) over the thanksgiving weekend would be a really good way to get divorced.

I'm not sure about the dealership though. If it is billable work, then they're really damned expensive and besides I'd rather not give them my patronage over a trusted independent. Some dealers are great and a pleasure to work with, and I haven't gotten that sort of feeling from mine although this is the first serious issue.

Think I'll call the dealership tomorrow and talk to the service manager and see what he/she thinks; DexCool is going to immediately put alarm bells in their head and reduce my chances of warranty coverage though.

But there's no way I'm flushing again and putting standard coolant back in-- for one, I don't know I could flush it properly with this coolant leak and two, there's orange stuff sprayed in various places and cooked on the header. Three, it's not exactly honest.
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Old 11-20-2001, 12:00 AM   #4
Eric SS
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swap and N20. gone. : (

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I doubt it is a freeze plug unfortunatly. Those things are very tight and gasketed on our cars.

Hopefully it is just a heater hose or something but Does anything run behind the LH head??? I think most of the stuff are behind the right head.

Is there any moisture coming out of your exhaust? I hate to jump to conclusions btu it sounds like a head gasket to me possibly.

How much coolant did you have to add?

If the head gasket blew and is leaking into the cylinder, you can do one of two things to test it. you can either bring it to a radiator shop and they will put a sniffer into the coolant to smell for Carbon monoxide in the coolant, or you can fill your radiator all the way and fill the coolant overflow all the way and if you see bubbles rising from the overflow or top of the radiator (If you keep the cap off and do it that way) you definetly have a blown head gasket.

Sorry to hear about your misfortune. I hope you solve it soon and all the advise I just wrote doesn;t apply to you!

Eric
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Old 11-20-2001, 12:36 AM   #5
BG5
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Heater hoses: Look for two hoses starting just behind the left cylinder head that take several turns and go to the firewall. Beyond all the other coolant hoses (throttle body, radiator) you might to look at the coolant manifold under the intake manifold and the bypass hose connected to it. There is a hose between the manifold and a bypass pipe which connects to the heater hose and the thermostat -- this is in the area you described.

I've been running Dexcool for a while and have had to use a little BarsLeaks Radiator Sealant in regular size tablets, half dose (one tablet instead of two) to keep everything sealed up everytime it gets changed out .
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Old 11-20-2001, 12:43 AM   #6
Eric SS
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2000 2.5RS w/ EJ22T
swap and N20. gone. : (

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We are talking about the passenger side Cylinder head right?

Eric
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Old 11-20-2001, 12:59 AM   #7
BG5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Imprezinator
We are talking about the passenger side Cylinder head right?
left side as in left-hand-drive Otherwise we'd be in Japan all driving STi's on the left side of the road
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Old 11-20-2001, 01:00 AM   #8
Eric SS
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Location: 2013 335i, 2011 G37 coupe
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2000 2.5RS w/ EJ22T
swap and N20. gone. : (

Default

OK. I;m an idiot. Just one of those brain farts considering I work on cars all day every day What the hell was I thinking.. come kick me

Eric
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Old 11-20-2001, 01:12 AM   #9
BG5
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Actually to modify what I said, the heater send or return connects to the coolant manifold (behind the LH head) and there is another pipe next to it for the other heater line which goes to the thermostat and there is a small branch off this pipe which has a hose which I think is for the throttle body.
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Old 11-20-2001, 04:23 AM   #10
HndaTch627
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*kicks eric in the head*

sorry eric


sounds like a heather hose to me....oh yes if you want to keep you car running cool, you are better off cranking the heat and turning hte A/C on...this will get both fans a turning.

Jeremy
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Old 11-20-2001, 10:41 AM   #11
ColinL
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Jeremy-- both fans were already turning, and running the heater is usually great because it uses the core as a second small radiator. Unfortunately in my case it sounds a lot like the heater hoses were at fault (thanks BG5) so running the heater wasn't good for a different reason.

Checking it out this evening...
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Old 11-20-2001, 03:35 PM   #12
Drac9
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If your head gasket was bad enough to leak that much coolnat than the engine would no run properly. Sounds more like a coolant hose to me. Also, you can buy a pressure pump and pressurize the cooling system to help identify leaks. Hope that helps a little. I know it's pretty much been said already.
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Old 11-21-2001, 04:48 PM   #13
ColinL
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'03 Evo, Rice White
'01 Erion CBR 929

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Update:

BG5, where do you have coolant leaks from? My leak does not seem to be from any of the lines, so unfortunately I am thinking it is the left head gasket.

I may try the radiator sealant this weekend. I'm not pulling the head though, I've already made arrangements for a shop to look at it on Monday if I can't get anything figured with a low amount of time invested. (see first post, getting divorced. ) I trust these guys and their rate is fair, plus I'll go ahead and get a clutch installed at the same time.
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