2002 Saturn SL2 Excessive coolant usage

Tiny
MAJORTUSA
  • MEMBER
  • 2002 SATURN SL2
  • 1.9L
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 101,526 MILES
I recently replace my water pump and radiator, sine then my car coolant level goes down every couple of days, there is no visible leak anywhere, also there is no indication of water in the oil, or oil in the coolant reservoir. Is not overheating either.
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Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 AT 4:23 PM

5 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Consider adding a small bottle of dark purple dye to the coolant, then you can search a day later with a black light. The dye will show up as a bright yellow stain that you can follow back to the source. Don't overlook checking inside the tail pipe. Auto parts stores will have the dye, and those that rent or borrow tools will have the black light.
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Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 AT 6:07 PM
Tiny
MAJORTUSA
  • MEMBER
I will try your recommendation and let you know, However if there excess of water on the tail pipe as you mention what does that mean?
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Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 AT 6:46 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Just to add to this one lets not over look a bad radiator cap not holding the correct pressure you can loose coolant that way.A new radiator cap for that car is only about 6. Also the coolant bottles get old crack and leak on those cars.
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Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 AT 7:07 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
It's not excess water you'll see. Most of the time when there's a continual loss of coolant with no obvious cause, it's the tail pipe where people forget to look. If the dye shows up there, a cylinder head gasket is leaking 99 percent of the time. For the other one percent, a cylinder head could be cracked or warped.

The classic symptom of a leaking head gasket is white smoke from the tail pipe. Antifreeze is alcohol and will stay a vapor longer than water will. The smoke will dissipate but the dye will remain. That's what makes the dye so useful.

It would be quite the coincidence for a head gasket to start leaking just when the other repairs you listed were done. What is more likely is the coolant wasn't replaced often enough and corrosion led to the water pump leaking, AND the acids were working on the head gasket at the same time. The antifreeze will always be antifreeze, but it's those additives that wear out and is why the coolant must be replaced periodically. The additives include water pump lubricant and corrosion inhibitors.

To add to the misery, most GM vehicles came with the red "Dex-Cool" antifreeze that many of us call "Dex-Mud". GM advertised that as "lifetime" coolant to make their cost of scheduled maintenance look lower than that of their competitors, but then right on the reservoir they put a sticker that says to replace it every three years. Even the Dex-Cool company didn't recommend running it for three years.
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Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 AT 8:00 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
The saturn cars never advertised lifetime dexcool 72,000 or 5yrs also I have never really seen the dexcool eat head gaskets on those cars. If you want to test the head gasket rent the block tester at auto zone.
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Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 AT 9:04 PM

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