Mechanics

CHEVY RECOVERY TANK OVERFLOWED AFTER OPENING

1995 Chevrolet Cavalier

Engine Cooling problem
1995 Chevy Cavalier 4 cyl Front Wheel Drive Automatic 89000 miles

I've had a coolant leak for a few weeks, and it's gotten bad in the last week. I did not see any coolant around the top of the overflow tank, like I did two years ago when there was a compression leak, so I wasn't too worried about that. I did, on the other hand, feel coolant around the bottom of the water pump, which is on the other side of the engine, and near where the coolant ends up on the ground, so I assumed it was just a common leak at the water pump gasket and I could drive it for another week before getting it fixed.

I've been checking the coolant level before and after each drive, and it drains quite a bit, but I fill it back up again. Maybe 1 gallon for every 2 hours of driving.

Yesterday I put Stop-Leak in it to try to slow it down until the weekend when I get it fixed. After I drove to work this morning, I shut off the engine and opened the recovery tank, and it was at a pretty normal level. I was pleasantly surprised, since it would be almost empty the last few days when I did this, so I assumed the Stop-Leak had helped.

I went to get the coolant jug to top it off, and when I got back to the front of the car the tank was overflowing.

Would this happen simply because I had opened the recovery tank cap while hot, releasing the pressure and allowing it to boil and push the coolant out? Or is it a compression leak again? Overflowing the tank like this is exactly what it would do when there was a compression leak.

Can I safely drive it home?
Avatar
Arghhh
April 14, 2010.



Its very possible that its both but I would go with you dropping the pressure causing it to boil out.

If you want to check if its combustion gases they sell a little kit at autopart stores, some kind of ph paper. Just hold it over the coolant resevoir and it changes color if it finds combusion cylinder gasses.

Also a compression test is a good test.

Just fill it up and drive you should be good. Just make sure the engine dont overheat.

Blackop555
Apr 14, 2010.
Yeah, I got that once and it didn't work. They have a little tube and you suck gases into the tube to make them bubble through some liquid. I did in fact have a compression leak, but the test didn't show it.

Ok. I filled it up and drove it a few miles, and it didn't overflow with the cap on. So hopefully it will be fine for a few more days.

If I remove the recovery tank cap, does it really relieve the pressure for the entire cooling system? In these cars, there's no radiator cap, right? It's just the recovery tank cap that keeps it pressurized?

Tiny
Arghhh
Apr 14, 2010.
Yes when you remove the resevoir cap it will depressurize the entire system. It woks the same way as a radiator cap and they can be pressure tested too.

Blackop555
Apr 19, 2010.