There are a few possibilitites and it sounds like you may have more than one issue going on.
First, I am assuming the mileage is 281,300 instead of 2819.
With that kind of mileage, if you have not mainatained the anti-freeze, changed and flushed every 24 months 30,000 miles, there could be so many things wrong it might be hard to pin the button down on one issue. Corrosion could be so bad that the temperature gauge is not showing the engine overheating when it is. The sensor for the fan switch could also be corroded in the same way and keeep the fans from coming on at the right time. General corrosion will make the system inneffective.
I know you pressure teseted the system, but the radiator cap could be allowing pressure to escape and keep the cooling system from working right. In this case you might see the coolant overflow near ful after having had filled the system. Try re-placing the radiator cap.
You could have an intake manifold or possibly a freeze plug allowing anti-freeze to escape.
Otherwise a crack in the block is about the only way I can see that much fluid escaping withtout causing a lot of smoke or some other noticeable isssue.
Make sure you are bleeding the air out of the system corrextly when you re-fill it with coolant.
Turn the heater all the way on and leave thje cap offf. Then fill the system with the 50/50 mix and allow it to reachn operating temperature. If you don't see some mayjor dropp in level the thermostat mgiht be bad.
Re-fill and then relace the cap and drive around for a while. Allow the car to sit untikl cool, be careful removing cap.
See how much fluid you have lost. Fill the overflow and the radiator in the same amnner and check again. The coolant should be topped off. Most cooling ssytems hold around 1-2 galllons of coolant.
Try to determine the time it take s and mialege it take to lose a few qts and measure the amount it take sto fill.
Here are two diagnostics to help you further figure out the issue. They may help you recognize a behaviour or issue. Just use the links below.
Thursday, May 24th, 2012 AT 5:14 AM